Genesis Day 58: Life is Never a Straight Line
This year I have reached one of the ages that end with the number “0”—and I don’t mean 40. Ugh!
I find myself reflecting on all the earlier years. As I look back on my life, it has been anything but a straight line.
Yet we still try. We try with ourselves. We try with our children.
We try to get everything lined up, so we can arrive at the destination we desire, with as few twists and turns as possible.
I have not arrived at the destination, but I started at a military academy, graduating with a commission in the USNR and a Mechanical Engineering degree. That turned into a career in the nuclear power industry, which was followed by a twist into the pastorate... which in turn led to my current post. Anything but a straight line!
And those are just the high points. There are many low-point moments.
Why do I bring this up? Because as I read this chapter of Genesis, I find myself reflecting on the earlier chapters. As I look back, I see crazy twists and turns in this story. Some stunning high points, and some downright rock-bottom moments.
I know where this story is headed. God has selected a man, Abraham, from whom He will build a nation: and from this nation, the Savior of the World will be born. That is the aim.
Yet can we just pause and notice how UN-straight the path has been? Can we notice just how many times Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and now Jacob’s children are living their lives in very UN-straight ways?
Today’s chapter of Genesis is a story of Judah, Jacob’s son. And it doesn’t cast Judah in a very positive light. Judah’s oldest son, named Er, is wicked and dies, leaving behind a widow, Tamar. Tradition would have it that the next brother in line take Tamar as his wife. This would be brother number 2, Onan; but apparently, he despises his brother, even after he’s dead. He refuses to bring his brother’s offspring into the world through Tamar. He then dies, which leaves brother number 3 (Shelah) to take Tamar the widow as his wife. But Judah keeps him from her: after watching two sons die, Judah is not interested in having his last remaining son suffer the same fate.
There are many things screwed up at this point, but it gets worse. We read of Judah being with a prostitute who turns out to have been Tamar in disguise.
Now I want to ask you a question: if you were God, is this the story you would orchestrate as you were calling a group of people to be Your People?
Yet you and I are not God. Rather than ask God a question, perhaps I should suggest something different.
Instead of questioning God, let me share an observation. God is patient and merciful. For those who seek Him, and for those who love Him, we see His never-ending love.
The Bible tells a story, over and over again, of God walking with humans who don’t walk straight lines.
Perhaps that is the point of this story being included in a book that we title “God’s Holy Word”. Irony? I think not. I think this story is so that you and I can continue to get a picture of a God who will suffer with us, for long periods of time, as we twist and turn towards our destination—our destination which is Him.