Posts Tagged ‘new beginnings’

integrityEveryone around me appears so sure that the Bible is a clear exposition of right and wrong, but I say it is also full “gray areas.” Tamar, betrayed by her husband’s father and brothers, tricks the father into sleeping with her. She conceives a child by him and when she is found out is called a harlot until Judah fesses up to the deed. Then she is proclaimed righteous.

Genesis 38:25-26a
As she was being brought out [to be burned to death], she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I . . .

I understand the concept since the law of that era proclaimed that the brothers should sleep with the widow to procure children in the dead brother’s name and provide a future for the widow. Without sons to protect her, she would be cast out into the street. She would be homeless unless her own family would take her in. It was a complex solution to a societal problem — widows.

Tamar did not have many–or perhaps I should say ANY–resources to repair the damage done by Judah’s offspring. Those brothers intentionally withheld from her what she needed: the seed to create a man-child who would care for her in her old age. They, by not participating honestly in the practice, condemned her. For this, they were undoubtedly killed. They were violating basic human rights, and worse, female rights, of which there were few.

Judah withheld the third and youngest son for fear he would be killed, since he didn’t really know why, only that relations with Tamar brought death. Oh, he promised her the boy when he came of age, but it never happened.

So, Tamar pretends to be a temple prostitute.

In today’s world, this is just another soap opera or bodice ripper romance. This is the clever woman making the man own up to his responsibilities. All true. But in her world? She was taking a huge risk. All that Judah had to do, in the moment of reveal, was deny the “pledge” he gave her belonged to him. This was the same Judah, remember, who just participated in the sale of his brother Joseph.

Judah did the right thing, despite himself.

And this is the message for me then. I can always choose rightly today, even if I chose poorly yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. I can do a reversal. I can do the right thing.

In that act of bravery, God can show up. God can make the switch. God is in the now.

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Painting by Frank Wesley

It was not a quick departure from the ark at all. Depending on the counting system one uses and the assumptions about the calendar, it was a good year that everyone was on the ark. A full year in a small space. A full year in which a whole set of norms were created. When the door opened, everything changed, again.

Genesis 8:15-16a; 9:6
Then God said to Noah,“Come out of the ark. . . . And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

The implication of a couple of verses seems to be that there was not a lot of animal eating on the ark. That makes sense since the there were a limited number of animals that could be there. Was the situation more like the exodus when shoes did not wear out and people survived on manna? Who knows. But one thing is clear, once they left the ark, Human was given, once again, full authority over all living creatures and could eat of them (as long as the lifeblood was not in them – a somewhat anti-vampire mandate).

But even more important, along with the promise (and subsequent covenant God makes with and to Human), God also announces a required  accounting from each and every living creature, including Human, on earth. In essence, if “you” (living thing) are going to live on this earth, if I (God) am going to give you a fresh start, then you have to report out on how you used this gift of life.

I wonder if I had a stronger sense of this in my own life if I would make different choices?

Instead of worrying about “not” sinning or avoiding “bad things,” wouldn’t it be better to be more conscious of the good use of time, the strong ROI of my investment of time, money, and energy.

They say that many people who have a near-death experience often view life differently from then on. And depending on their foundation, they either become lackadaisical (what’s the point) or they become keenly focused on making each day count. It is a question one hears, “What if you had x amount of days to live, how would you live differently? . . . or would you?

Becoming a follower Christ, is a little like coming out an ark. It, too, is a fresh start. As a new believer, it is so much easier to see and feel the renewal. But, as we grow older in the faith, I think we lose touch with the wonder and worse, we lose touch with our accounting.

I think it’s daily actually. It should be part of our prayer life. I would like to bring it into my own prayers, my evening prayers, my review of the day. Oh Lord, this is what I did with this day, your gift to me. Forgive the missteps; rejoice with me in your moments; and thanks for the grace when I was afraid.

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