September 7, 2018
“I didn’t know any better,” I whispered to my friend seated beside me. We took turns around the table sharing silly stories about our younger days.
And when I told a few details about how, in my twenties, I belly danced for exercise, some giggled. Others gasped in surprise.
Although I never danced in public, my body sure liked the shape it was in. All those moves and shimmies toned up the muscles.
But years came and went, the body lost its youthful look, and shimmies went out the window.
Now, as a ministry leader, remembering that belly dancing episode, regret, embarrassment and a tinge of shame try to barge in. They try but don’t quite make it because I know women in the Bible who also did some not-so-honorable things. And to our surprise, they received God’s redeeming love anyway.
I’m quoting Joseph Prince’s description of these women:
Four women are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (see Matthew 1:1–16). Interestingly, they are not Sarah, Rebekah, Leah or Rachel, wives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament. Instead, they are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, women who had morally questionable backgrounds.
Tamar resorted to deception and prostitution to produce children through her father-in-law. Yet, it was from her line, the tribe of Judah, that the Messiah came (see Genesis 38).
Rahab was a Gentile and a prostitute in Jericho, who became a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Joshua 2:1–21). She also became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth (see Ruth 4:13).
Ruth was morally upright. But as a Moabitess, she was a Gentile and therefore considered unclean. Yet, she became the grandmother of David (see Ruth 4:13–17), whom the Jews regard as their greatest king.
Bathsheba committed adultery with David (see 2 Samuel 11:4). Later, she gave birth to King Solomon (see 2 Samuel 12:24), from whose royal line Jesus descended.
Naughty, naughty gals by some standards. And although society could have pushed them to the side, God didn’t. He saw beyond their activities and bad choices.
But did these gals know what God was up to? Probably not. Instead, they possibly followed their nightly routine, fed their camels, parked them outside their tents, crawled inside and rather than sleep, they tossed and turned, crying out, “Help me God, my life is a mess.”
But God didn’t change the mess itself. Instead, He used them. He had a place for them, even with their tainted past and not-so-pure character. He had designed something big with a divine scenario.
Not only that, but God by using them, had one more purpose: to send you and me a message, loud and clear: even if we’re the kind of women who feel we don’t do enough right, but too much wrong. If we try too hard, or not try enough. If we achieve high goals, or procrastinate instead. If we had foolish ways while we were young, and even more foolish ones as we get older.
God has a plan.
None of that matters because God has a plan. His design includes a bigger picture and a greater purpose. And even when He doesn’t get us out of the mess, He watches how we navigate through it.
And, although, with teary eyes while focusing on the sorry details of our misfortune, He’s at work. He’s putting the pieces together according to His blueprint, guiding each step to make something powerfully beautiful.
In fact, the more we head down the dirty path, the more we need to turn to Him. He will transform the mess into a message to the world that He can use the weak, the fallen and the wrong-side-of-the-tracks kind of gal.
Need more proof? If He can use me, blind and less-than-capable, He can use anyone for His purpose, for His plans and for His pleasure.
Father, thank you for giving me a calm heart even when you don’t remove the mess in my life. I find peace because you erase from your memory the mistakes I made, the wrong paths I followed and the flaws that are ever-present. I ask that you use me in spite of it all. In Jesus’ name, amen.
How will your outlook change, knowing God can use you right where you are?
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