Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Genesis 30 - The Mandrake Soap Opera

Chapter 30 of Genesis is like a soap opera. Everyone is sleeping with each other, cheating each other out of sheep, repeating the mistakes of their parents, bartering sex for mandrakes. The whole thing is a mess.

And I think that mess has probably been discussed a million different times by a million different writers. But I am a big fan of the "edge verses," those little lessons that we miss because they are hidden on the edges of neon stories. Like the ones in this chapter. So instead of focusing on all the action, I want to write about six words Rachel says in verse 1. What are they? They are actually very simple:

"Give me children, or I'll die."

This is such a perfect picture of jealousy and envy. In the first half of the sentence she makes a demand. She orders Jacob to give her children. But the reality is that Jacob is not a God. He cannot simply give her children, a fact he points out by saying "Am I in the place of God?" The problem, is that's how jealousy works. It makes our object of desire impossible. It makes what we want and our attempts to get it impossible. Had she asked God, at the bare minimum Rachel
would have been asking someone capable of fulfilling the command. But Jacob can't.

I see this in marriages sometimes and to some degree, this is Hollywood's fault. We've bought into the Jerry McGuire idea of thinking our husbands and wives "complete us." They don't. They can't. They won't. And when you put that kind of pressure on them, you cripple them. Your wife can inspire you, challenge you, encourage you, warm your heart, but only God can complete you. Only God can do the seemingly impossible, whether that's giving you children or giving you self esteem and making you whole.

In the second half of the sentence Rachel lays out an extreme consequence of what will happen if her demand is not met. She will die. She throws the die card. Not that she will be unhappy or sad or unfulfilled, she will die. I know that feeling. There are things in my own life that I struggle with when it comes to envy. Authors or young pastors I am jealous of. There are other blogs I wish I could be like. I wrestle with my own sense of jealousy and desperate demands and ugly envy.

I wish I didn't. I wish that most of these chapters in Genesis did not apply so directly to my own life, but they do. My challenge to you is that the next time you find yourself making a demand of what you need, or a consequence of what will happen if you don't get it, remember Rachel.


Jenn said...

I think this is my favorite of your three blogs...although I love all the funny you have going on with the Stuff Christians Like. And I love this edge lesson. Thanks!

Debra said...

Thank you for your insight.

Debra said...

Thank you for the insight.

eastern ky pastor said...

I'm an "edge verse" kind of guy too, which is one of the reasons I've incorporated 97seconds into my devotion time. I really appreciate your bringing out those little things that often get overlooked, like this verse. Thanks, Jon, keep up the good work - and keep challenging us!

UTaylor526 said...

Its the same problem of when Abraham lied. Both Abraham and Rachel don't trust God and take matters into their own hands... but in the end, God blesses them anyway. I know this speaks to God's promises, but it still sticks out to me.

Joanne said...

Great post. As a wife, I think that this statement that Rachel makes can be the heart of so many of us women from time to time.

One of my favorite passages of the Bible that I just love to hate.

It can be so me.

Blessings, my first time here. Keep up the great writing.

shawn said...

I appreciate your honesty and clear cut thinking. I have felt this way, and I totally amen what you are saying about completeness. I believe with my whole heart that the man God has for me will not be what completes me, because I am complete in Him, but I hope to complement him as well as he me.

Campman62 said...

97SWG..."Warm Butter" to my soul.

Thank you my Brother for the "Good Medicine" this morning to help stave-off the deep, dark green "Emerald of Envy & Jealousy"!!!

~A serving of "Humble Pie" to go along with my morning coffee.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure I know how to comment to this. I too am guilty of being jealous of others who have a husband/wife and beautiful children while I wait for God to send these blessings my way. I have never been that brave as to say "or I'll die" but sometimes I feel that way. Thank you for this reminder that only God is the only One who can complete us...and that jealousy is not of God.

- Sarah :-) said...

Okay - so my comment is actually about the "dreams" blog a few days ago... I think a reason it's hard for us to believe that God still speaks in dreams is because we have some CRAZY dreams, mixed up with real ones.

Seriously though - there wasn't a single time in the bible that someone wrote "Ok - so I had a dream last night that I was wearing all pink, but my pants were missing... and I'm walking down Main street in Jerusalem, and don't even realize they're gone. Suddenly, this huge monster elephant appears..." Know what I mean?

I have some CRAZY dreams, so what makes one persons dream a "message from God", and my dream "too much junk food"? (Obviously I'm referring to practical dreams, not the pants-less ones)

AA said...

There are other blogs I wish I could be like.

Don't worry about that, Jon. Carlos (Ragamuffin Soul) pimped your blog. Your quest is complete. :)

Curtis said...

Great insight, and after falling for #317 "Telling someone the sermon was for them" trap (For a minute thinking my wife needs to read this), I realized that this was for me. Good job with blog keep it up.

Flesheater said...

I love that your an "edge verse" person.
Cause you pick up on small things I sometimes miss!

But this is a great lesson.
We are constantly seeking things out in all the wrong places.

Only G-d can provide our needs or our wants.

All others are false providers that will end in failure.