As I sat to do some reading last evening, I came across a familiar story. Though I have previous knowledge of how this story concludes, I was riveted by a new revelation. Just love when this happens don’t you! Ha, this coming from one who craves predictability, there’s just something about surprises.
The story I revisited was the life of Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute. As a quick recap, her story came at a time when Joshua succeeded Moses as the nation’s leader. It came time to attack Jericho. God revealed the plan for attack, a plan that was simply unconventional (Josh. 6:3-4). Before attacking, men sent as spies found room and board with Rahab. They were spotted. Rahab had a choice to make – hand them over or risk her life. She chose to affirm her personal belief,
…the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Joshua 2:11
As a result, she hid the spies, and asked for protection when they invaded. Apparently, the promise given to Moses 650 years earlier was commonly known among the Canaanites. As the sons of the covenant prepared to cross the Jordan River, people living in the promised land understood the significance of their arrival. Rahab, however, responded to these beliefs very differently than her countrymen. Whereas they prepared for war, she surrendered and asked for protection.
But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho – and she lives among the Israelites to this day. Joshua 6:25
A Canaanite prostitute, who otherwise would have been stoned under the law recently received through Moses, became an accepted member of the community, an adopted daughter of the covenant. Her trust in God and her acceptance in the community entitled her to receive a portion of the land promised to Abraham’s descendants. By surrendering her illegitimate claim to the land and by receiving God’s gracious offer of mercy and forgiveness, Rahab became an adopted daughter in the family of God and an heir to Abraham’s promise.
AND, not only that, a young man named Salmon saw in Rehab a beautiful woman of faith, despite her sin-stained past, and asked her to marry him. She gave birth to a son named Boaz, who would grow up and to marry a widow named Ruth, only to become the great-grandparents of none other than a king named David. Moreover, the Messiah, the King of Kings, would be born from her lineage! She received grace heaped upon grace and divine favor beyond her wildest imaginings.
In some ways, Rahab’s story is our story. Each of us has a label. You may have your label concealed for most of your life and prefer it remain a secret. You keep the people from your past separated from those who know you now. You avoid reminiscing too much because your memories and your old label causes you shame. Perhaps your label is a reason you hesitate to step foot inside church. If so, consider this: Isn’t it interesting that when the Israelite spies offered to spare Rahab’s life, they said nothing about her lifestyle?
Abandoning her trade was not part of the deal. Changing her life wasn’t discussed. Rahab’s label was not an obstacle to God. The reality and the embarrassment your label reflects is not an obstacle to God’s grace. You, like Rahab, are invited as you are, label and all. You, like Israel, have been invited to join God in a relationship initiated by faith, not adherence to a set of rules. This is the way of grace. Grace doesn’t demand. Grace assists.
When it comes to your labels, current or past, God is slow to judge and more than willing to deliver.
Not after you’ve freed yourself or distanced yourself from your embarrassing labels, but as a part of the process. In fact grace provided you with labels of it’s own: Forgiven. Accepted. Loved. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing this re-labeling process wasn’t instant. I’m guessing this was a process for her, and in the same fashion, is for us. One day at a time, one decision at a time, one moment at a time. What labels do you have for yourself? From what I’m learning, it may take a while for new labels to stick. My prayer for you today is this:
Father, today I declare that what you say in your word, about my friend is true. You are forgiven. You are accepted. You are loved. Teach us to live life in accordance with who you say we are. Amen.
If you find yourself in a place where you recognize the need to connect with others, would you consider a place to GROW in Him? Have a blessed, and changed day!