Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Shifting Questions

Laban certainly learned something, for some reason, from his initial experience with his sister Rebekah and the servant of Abraham in Genesis 24. Because when he has the opportunity to do it the same way with his daughters a few chapters later, he doesn't. 

In his encounter with the servant, Laban, attempting to do the right thing by his sister, asks her what she wants. This would have been extremely uncommon in those days, as it doesn't much matter what a woman wants in a patriarchal society. Marriages were arranged, and the women often had little, if any, say in their own future. But these were special circumstances; the servant was not just asking Rebekah to get married, but he was asking her to move to a foreign land away from her entire family. Laban, the kinsman-redeemer responsible for her, asks her what she thinks about the whole thing. 

And Rebekah says, "I will go." 

So she goes, and even though Laban asks for her to stay just another day or so, she has made up her mind. She will go. There's no reason to wait, no reason for even just one more night at home. Her future lies with Abraham and Isaac; might as well start heading for tomorrow today. 

But skip forward just a few chapters, and several decades, later when Laban's daughters are in a very similar position, married to a man who wants to leave and go to a foreign land. Notice that Laban doesn't ask them what they think about the whole idea. 

He can't. It didn't work out so well for him the last time. His sister agreed to go, and he never saw her again. He can't take the same risk with his daughters. 

Jacob, however, asks them. After the Lord comes to him and tells him to take off for home, he shares the vision with his wives, and they tell him it sounds like a good idea to them. They're in. They'll go. And so they pack up and start to go. 

The question has firmly shifted. No longer does the family ask, but the future asks. No longer really is the question, "Will you go?" but rather, "Will you come?" 

There's a dramatic difference here, and it's one that is important for all of us. Most of us think our faith is about going and that there's some kind of guardianship in the place where we are, that it all comes down to whether we're willing to leave our current place and set off for somewhere new and unknown. But the question has shifted from here to there, from one thing to another. And the question God asks is us not usually, "Will you go?"

Rather, He asks us, "Will you come?"

God is on the move in the world. He's up to something. He's doing things. And as our bridegroom, He's taken the responsibility for us. He wants us to go with Him, to be part of what He's doing. But He wants us to know it's not willy-nilly; it's a plan, a real plan, a good plan. He tells us the vision. He lays it all out before us. And then He says, sound good? Will you join Me? 

Will you come?

Because even in a world that doesn't seem to care what we think, even in a world where it doesn't seem like we have much of a say at all, even in a world that seems dominated and driven by "not us," someone has to ask. It's important that they ask. We still get a say as to where we're going, whether we're going, whether we'll come. So God asks. Will you come?

And of course, the answer is....yes.

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