Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Online Book Club: A Lineage of Grace

I've joined an online book club with my fellow blogger friend/military wife, Marie. I've mentioned her before. It was all her idea, so I can't take credit on that, I just really wanted to be involved in something that pushed me to read Christian literature, and be that much more of an encouraging thing in my life. Has it worked so far? YES! Let me share with you the book we read during the month of August. 

A Lineage of Grace, by Francine Rivers. 

My mom and both of my grandmas have read Francine Rivers for years. As I got older, my mom was always saying I should get into her books. She writes a lot of Christian based fictional books. I always just pushed Francine aside and simply just said, "no thanks." I wasn't hesitant, however, when Marie suggested we read this book first. Reading the bio intrigued me, and I was excited to give it a whirl. 

The book is about five characters in the bible, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary, who were all unlikely women who changed eternity. Let me tell you, this book has brought tears to my eyes! Each woman I was familiar with their story in the bible, but never thought of their story in their point of view, in their time period, from their heart. Francine does an amazing job at giving the reader a detailed description, or "story" {based on the bible} of the characters perspective and how God did not turn a blind eye towards their faith, even during times when you and I would be scared to. Let me briefly give a description of each character, telling you what I learned from their perspective.

Tamar

Tamar was one of the stories that I didn't remember right away, until I got more in-depth in her story. Tamar is actually one of the main ones I related to the most. Her faithfulness to the Lord, brought tears to my eyes, as I was literally crying at the end. Tamar was arranged to marry one of Judah's sons, Er {Judah is one of Joseph's brothers, that sold him into slavery}. Er was wicked, and God took his life, so the custom of the time said she married the next of kin, Onan. But Onan refused to have a child who would not be his own heir. The Lord saw that to be wicked, and took his life, too. Tamar was then sent back to her family {which brought shame on them AND for her}. Her family didn't even treat her the same. Judah made a promise with her {which she believed he would keep}, but when he did not follow through with it, she acted as a prostitute to sleep with Judah {custom said if a heir would not produce an heir with you, then the father was the last choice} and kept his staff and necklace {basically how society would recognize you in those times} so that when he lost them and returned them to him, he would know that it was her who had them from that night {kind of confusing, but bear with}. When her family eventually found out she was pregnant {it shows, duh} they reported her to Judah, who they knew would have her stoned {since the custom for adultery was being stoned or just death in general}, he told her father to burn her. She had her maid literally run to Judah's house with his necklace and staff, telling him "the one who has these is pregnant, and that woman is Tamar." Judah eventually ran to her house, just in time to save Tamar, who was beaten up BY HER OWN BLOOD! What I haven't mentioned, is that throughout her whole life, having husbands who mistreated her with no one putting an end to it, she believed in God, never giving up hope. They married, and eventually their blood line would bear the Messiah! All because of their faith!

WOW. I was blown away, tears and all, when I read the epilogue to Tamar. God was so faithful, with her through every beating her first husband would give to her, through every wicked sexual act her second husband would do to her, through the rejection and shame her family bestowed upon her, and all the while waiting on an empty promise by her father in law. God.was.there. AND He blessed her for staying true to Him. Powerful stuff right there. Read Genesis 38 for more on Tamar. 

Rahab

Rahab was born a peasant, sought out by the time she was a young child to be a prostitute to the kings court. I cannot imagine having no say in the choice of who to marry, yet alone your calling! {Thanks mom and dad!!!} She was a beautiful woman and had a life full of luxuries, but did not care for any of what the world had to offer. She believed there was more out there, a God who would save her and her people from the evil the country was causing them. Basically, she helped two spies of the Lord, and God eventually repayed her for believing in Him, when no one, I repeat no one else around her believed. It's almost like one of those thoughts you think about today "How can God reveal himself to a tribe in Papa New Guinea {just thought of a random place} when there is no text, they speak a different language, and they don't take outsiders. But you know what? God instilled in Rahab faith in Him, when no one else did in her land. And God saved only her and her family when the army came and took down the walls of Jerricho. She married one of the spies, Salmon, even though the tribe was freightful because she was from Jerricho, a foreign, AND a prostitute. But none of that mattered to Salmon, because he saw her devought faithfulness to the Lord, and so did the Lord. You know those genealogy chapters in Genesis and even some in the new testament, where you get so bored reading them, that you just don't even read them. READ THIS ONE!:

Rahab and Salmon had a son, Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed;
Obed, the father of Jesse;
Jesse, the father of Kind David.
And from the line of Kind David ofthe tribe of Judah came the promised Messiah,
Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

WOW!!!!!!!

Ruth

I really love Ruth as well. She was born with some statue, yet married a man with less. He died young from a disease, and decided to follow her mother in law back to her home land. When they reached the home land, she was an outcast {since she was a foreigner and not of their blood}. Although she came from wealth, she worked in the fields all day, laboring for wheat just so that they could get by. Boaz {recognize his name from above...} did not overlook her hard work {and her beauty} and decided to make her work come a little easy for her {also because he was kin to her mother in law Naomi}. Ruth choose, key word choose, to follow her mother in law, who was a devout follower, choose to believe in the Lord, and choose to work in the fields like a slave. God did not overlook that. He brought Ruth and Boaz together, blessed them, and did not forget about Ruth's unshaken faith in Him. 

Perez {mother was Tamar}, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, and David, who became kind of Israel. And from the line of Kind David came the Christ, the anointed One of God, Jesus, our Savior and Lord. 

These don't make me want to skip over them or make me bored anymore! They make me cry! How awesome is this!

Bathsheba

This was one character that I was hesitant about reading, before I read. I didn't know what direction she would take it in, because we all know the story of Bathsheba, but do we really? I mean, from Bathsheba's perspective, it really humbled me. We all sin. ALL OF US. We can't deny it. But when we ask for forgiveness, aren't we truly forgiven if our hearts are in the right? Yes, absolutely! So why are we so quick to pass shame on this story, as soon as we read through this story of anger, wrath, revenge, evil, adultery, and ultimately, sin. It all comes down to the point of sin. Bathsheba and David sinned, but with repentence comes grace. However, with David and Bathsheba's sin, they truly had to bear the consequences of their actions, as we all do with our sin. For example, because David noticed Bathsheba lustfully {and bathsheba not hiding when she could have}, it caused for them to have an affair. Then we they could have ended it there, he wanted her as his own wife, and he had her husband killed. But it didn't just end there. Because of this sin, thousands of their people died in a battle that could have been prevented, and so on and so on. But Bathsheba turned herself to the Lord and truly did repent, and she bore sons that were faithful to the Lord, that followed after him {from her example}.  I love this excerpt, Bathsheba praying to the Lord before she passed,

"I know they will remember my sins, Lord, but when they look upon my life, let them see what You did for an unworthy woman. Let them see the hope born from despair. If they must recount my sins, let them count Your blessings more so. You protected me. You raised me up. You gave me sons. Let my name be unspoken, Lord, for what am I that anyone should remember me? But, oh, Lord God of Israel, if they do remember me, let them open their mouths and sing praises for Your great mercy towards me. Let them see Your infinite grace and your boundless love."

This just sounds like a prayer that anyone of us would have; any one of us sinners. I am glad that I turned my mind more softly towards her story, as I read along from her perspective. Her perspective of grace and deliverance, from a sin she was attached to with shame and regret. 

Mary

We all know the story of Mary. The Mary that was the "mother" of the Christ. I really didn't expect to learn much knew from her story, but I did. She was brave to accept God's calling, although she felt unworthy of such. She was unafraid to stand up against her son, the chosen deliverer. She was full of faith that her son was truly THE deliverer, and not just one of the many who claimed he was the one. It was also great to read how Jesus himself humbled her, when feelings of "this is MY son" came into her mind all the time. She continually had to be reminded that this was not her son. This was God's son, who He choose to use her for his enter into earth. I would have to be reminded of that too! I mean, who wouldn't get confused, especially during the whole pregnancy part. She was also humbled, because she had to listen to shame and gossip, as she became with child before Joseph agreed to marry her. I mean, I would be feeling like this "God, why did you have me of all people do this work, and then have to go through all this shame just for you? Why?" Yes, I would bring out that stupid why. I hate why questions. But honestly, I would be feeling that way. But want to know the beauty of her situation. All her shame would be forgotten about, when Jesus would raise from the dead and bring his followers home to heaven. All of her feelings of worthlessness, shame, doubt, oh the doubt!, would totally be forgotten! Oh how powerful and unafraid this woman was! Do we really see that when we read the Christmas story? Sometimes, I truly don't. But now, I won't miss that important part of the story: her faith. 

God showed me through this book, how He can use anyone. ANYONE. A prostitute, a peasant, a carpenter's wife, anyone! How beautiful is that?!? God is so good. To even think He can use someone as wretched as me, blows me away. And I hope He does use me. Although, I know you have to be careful what you ask for and pray for with God. 

God, use me how you want!

2 comments:

  1. so glad you enjoyed the book! It was really wonderful :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, it twas indeed! So encouraged and blessed by it!

    ReplyDelete