It's so easy to read stories in the Bible quickly, get the gist of the story, pull maybe one of two things out of it and move on. I am guilty of this for sure.I have read the story of Sarai and Hagar and Leah and Rachel dozens of times. This weekend though, I got a completely different perspective on who these women were.
The last weekend in Feburary, my mother, sister, a few relatives and some of my mothers close friends joined 300 other women from the tri-state area for the women's retreat called "Flawless." Flawed women who serve a flawless God who sees us as righteous. That was the overarching theme of the weekend. The retreat was held at Tuscarora Inn in Mt. Bethal, PA. We used to come here with our old church when we were a little, but I hadn't been back in over a decade.
In between boat loads of food ( I gained 2 lbs) , activities and games, there were four meetings. The worship for each was led by a beautiful singer from New Jersey, Terry Boch, and the main speaker was Liz Curtis Higgs.
Now, I am going to be honest with you, my sister and I were the youngest women by a good 15 years..and we ain't no spring chickens. So my first thought was, this is going to be boring and with my growing pregnant belly sucking my energy I was preparing for some snooze time.
Boy was I wrong.
Terry's voice was beautiful and the songs she sang were relevant or popular classics, so that was very enjoyable. Then came the action. Liz Curits Higgs walks on stage.
She is a larger woman, and is not afraid to talk and joke about it. Her personality is like a bull and her humor is infectious. She speaks mostly about women of the bible, what she calls "bad women" of the Bible, because she is a self-described "bad woman." For close to a decade she slept with many men, did drugs...even telling a story about working at a radio station in Detroit with Howard Stern years ago and him telling her "Lizzy you gotta slow down, you can't live like this." Now, if Howard Stern is telling you your life is a mess...umm...it probably is. God called her out of it all when she was in her late twenties and since then she has been living, not perfectly, but living for the Lord. So she loves to focus on the women of the Bible and how God shined down on them too.
The first two nights were about Saria and Hagar (If you are not familiar with the story check it out in (Genesis 16 ). The second story that stood out to me, was the story of Leah and Rachel. Both Sarai and Leah did some very "bad girl" type things.
Sarai, who was barren, told her husband Abraham to sleep with their maid servant, Hagar, to conceive a child. He did, and then she hated and mistreated Hagar terribly after she got pregnant. Then, in her old age when she was eavesdropping on God speaking to Abraham, she laughed to herself when God said that she was going to bear a son. Then she lied about laughing. Still, despite her bad girl behavior, God blesses her with a child and her family line was the line of Jesus.
On to Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29). Jacob was in love with Rachel and told her father he would work for seven years for her hand in marriage. On their wedding night (SEVEN years later) when Jacob was waiting for his bride, her sister Leah comes into the room in a veil and they consummate a marriage! That sneaky, sneaky terrible woman!! How could she do that!! Jacob wakes up and is like 'oh crap this isn't Rachel!' So he goes to the father and says 'how could you do this to me!' Then agrees to work for seven more years for Rachel's hand in marriage, because he was so in love with her. The Bible describes her as the more beautiful sister. But now he is stuck with Leah and he treats her terribly! Part of me feels like she deserves this. She shouldn't have been involved in the sneaky plot to begin with! But she cries out to God to bear sons, because she thinks this will make him love her. God blesses her and gives her several sons. Why would God do this? Why would God favor Leah after what she did? It never seemed right to me!
But Liz made it very clear to me, these women of the Bible were no different than us. They made mistakes, they were sinful and sneaky and liars...all things I have been, but God still poured out blessings and mercy on them...so undeservingly. And in each of these stories, the struggles of all of these women brought them closer to God.
These stories of the Bible are not just to tell us about some woman who lived thousands of years ago, but they are to tell us about the character of God...How merciful he is and how even when a woman laughed at him, IN HIS PRESENCE!! ...he still blessed her.
This again, shows me that it really doesn't matter what you have done, who you have been or how many times you have played the Leah or the Sarai...there is always grace from God and when you call on him he is the God that "sees you."
Genesis 16:13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” - Hagar
Lisa has been a print and television journalist for the past 10 years. Currently, she freelances from her upstate New York home while preparing for her first baby. She writes about politics, DIY, God, natural remedies, news and current events. You can find more of her writing on her blog, www.lisammartone.com