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While You Wait, Rebekah

No matter what arena of life you yearn to enter, no one can prepare you for it like the people in your life today.

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A long time ago, a beautiful maiden went down to the local well to draw water. She spied a stranger with a small caravan of camels. It was hot. They looked thirsty. She offered to draw water for them—camels and all. When she had, the man lit up with joy, showered her with gifts, and declared his intention to take her to a distant land to marry a man she’d never seen.

This was one beautiful maiden without a hesitant bone in her body. Once things were cleared with her parents, Rebekah, heroine of Genesis 24 and future matriarch of Israel, was off like a shot.

Life is full of defining moments: events that catch our lives and catapult us in a new direction. The day you meet your spouse. The first glimpse of the child who will call you mother. A job interview. A spiritual experience. Such moments last five minutes and live a thousand years.

And then there’s the meantime. The Great In-Between. Life is due to begin sometime soon—in the meantime, we’re just hanging on. We try to trust that God has a plan, but we’re secretly afraid that life is passing us by. Thousands of years ago in a desert village, Rebekah lived through just such a time.

Waiting periods may lack glamour, but it’s the daily grind that prepares us for life changing events. Rebekah handled her fateful moment with the grace of a well-trained runner crossing the finish line. Her actions at the well show that she’d discovered the hidden treasures of waiting. She’d learned to embrace the same opportunities—call them training tools—that we have. Work. People. And a God who gets involved when He’s invited.

"Let Me Get That For You"

Rebekah was beautiful, but she didn’t consider herself above manual labor. She was Helen of Troy with dirt under her fingernails. Her care for others clearly outweighed her care for herself. But I’ll guarantee she wasn’t born like that. Her actions bear witness to days and weeks and years gone by, years in which she’d chosen to play her little part with all her might.

Witness Rebekah at the well, laboriously drawing water for the day’s work while a stranger watches. As visions of laundry, cooking, and scrubbing dance in her head, she hefts a very full, very heavy water jug onto her shoulder and prepares to trek the miles back home. No sooner has she finished than the stranger has the gall to ask her for a drink.

Rebekah’s reaction is utterly splendid. She doesn’t haul out the sarcasm, nor does she pitch her jug at the stranger’s presuming head. She doesn’t explain that this water is for her family and she’s rather busy at the moment. She doesn’t even bite her tongue and "do the right thing," innerly griping all the way. The King James says Rebekah "hasted" to give the man a drink. When he’d had his fill, she "hasted" again and poured the rest of the water into a trough for the camels. This done, Rebekah "ran" back to the well to draw more water for them. That’s a lot of water, a lot of work, and one incredible servant’s heart.

Rebekah hadn’t just trained herself in a physical sense. Her heart had gone through some training as well. The man at the well didn’t ask her to water his camels. She offered. She didn’t drag her feet when she helped him out. She hasted; she ran. Rebekah didn’t just work, she served. The difference between these two things is found only in the heart.

Tempering a Heart of Gold

No matter what arena of life you yearn to enter—marriage, parenthood, a career, a move—no one can prepare you for it like the people in your life today. The stranger who asks for a drink at an awkward moment will teach you to serve. The child who drives you up one wall and down the other will teach you the fine art of patience. The co-worker who dissolves into tears at the slightest provocation will teach you sensitivity and understanding. The socially awkward lady at your church can show you how to reach across barriers to find common ground.

We can’t learn servanthood without people to serve. We’ll never learn what love is if we don’t love the people in our lives today. Humility will elude us until we see ourselves as one thread in this big tapestry called humanity.

Work keeps our hands busy during the meantime; people engage our hearts. Rebekah was no Rapunzel, loafing around an ivory tower while the world trudged by outside. She plunged herself into the daily grind and put her heart into ordinary relationships. Other people were important to her, so she practiced going the extra mile for them.

Then one day, she went the extra mile for the right person. Rebekah didn’t go down to the well expecting her life to change, but that’s what happened. The godliness of Rebekah’s actions identified her to the stranger as God’s first choice to mother His chosen people. It’s the formation of our inner lives—our character—that will make the biggest difference to our futures.

At a Moment’s Notice

When it comes to making life-changing decisions in a split second, Rebekah wins the gold medal. Within hours of meeting the stranger at the well, Rebekah was asked not only to go and marry a man she had never met, but to leave immediately.

This was not a small matter. Rebekah wasn’t considering moving into the house down the street. To go with the stranger was to leave her old life behind forever, to join the "religious nut" branch of the family, to leave a settled lifestyle for a nomadic one. It’s possible that Rebekah wouldn’t ever see her family again. Yet she didn’t hesitate. When the man returned home in the morning, Rebekah went with him.

I don’t believe that Rebekah’s decision was made on a romantic whim. Nor do I believe she was a rebel who jumped at the first chance to leave her family. No, there was a depth and strength of conviction behind Rebekah’s decision that awes me. She knew that God had led the man to her, and her trust in God was so strong that she didn’t hesitate to leap into His unexpected will for her life.

Trust in God isn’t spontaneously generated any more than servanthood is. Somehow, out there in a little desert village, Rebekah got to know God. She came from a quasi-heathen family with a history of occasionally hearing the voice of Jehovah. She made the most of that history. Thus, when God called on her to surrender everything and take a whole new path, she was ready.

So While You Wait, Rebekah…

The big events of our life hold great significance for us, but they don’t define us. The daily grind, with its hundreds of little decisions, determines who we are—and without it, we would never be ready for those stranger-at-the-well moments.

Such a moment may be around the corner for you or me. In the meantime, we’d do well to stop thinking of tomorrow and start living in today. Rebekah didn’t sit around and daydream while she waited. Through the challenges that came her way each day, she built the character she needed to be a mother of Israel and the spiritual confidence she needed to abandon herself to God’s will.

You and I have the same opportunities for growth that Rebekah had. We have daily annoyances, people who challenge us, a God to talk to, and windows that need washing. It may feel like life has yet to begin. That feeling is wrong. Life is now.

Someday you may meet your own stranger at the well, and life will take a brand new direction. Until then, you have the opportunity to learn the blessings of waiting. Like Rebekah did, you can make the most of the meantime.

[This article first appeared here at Ungrind several years ago. We’re republishing it because … well, we just love it that much. We hope you enjoy it too.]

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Rachel Starr Thomson is the author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer, Letters to a Samuel Generation: The Collection, and the fantasy epic Worlds Unseen. She lives with her family of fourteen in southern Ontario where she reads, studies, writes, worships, and drinks tea. Visit her online at www.littledozen.com.

8 Comments
  • Wow, I really needed to read that. It’s so true to my life, I have been slowly understanding that I have to sow the seeds that are already here in my life. I have to master and grow to meet the demands of my life right now, not daydream about some special moment in time, while doing nothing now. This post just helped me grow exponentially :)

  • Diane Leask

    I found this via Lois Starr Prinder. How insightful you are. I hope to read more by you.
    God bless all your prayers and needs, Rachel.

  • This is just wonderful. Exactly the way women should be. There’s this “pretty, pretty princess” culture going now that almost makes it a bad thing for a girl to do ANYTHING to serve that might get her hands dirty and that is just SO wrong. I think Rebekah was the ultimate in ladylike.

  • Great article. Thank you for the encouragement!

  • Diane

    Thank you for a great encouragement. Needed to hear this today. Gave me affirnment and a tear to my eye=)Bless you

  • Angela

    Thank you for stepping on my toes! God has used you abundantly and fervently through this passage. I know the need is felt by more women than me alone, but if for only me, I praise God you took the previous time to remind me how important a life of servitude and faith truly is.

  • christabel

    Thanks for this inspiring message i really needed it today
    may the good Lord bless you

  • Deirdre Pineo

    Have just been reading the book of Genesis, and was delighted to find this blog as an addition to my studying.

    It is very thought provoking, and came just at he right time for me!! Thank you.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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While You Wait, Rebekah

by Rachel Starr Thomson time to read: 5 min
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