Monday, July 25, 2011

Loving Leah

            Leah is the girl no one wants.  She is the overlooked one . . . the rejected one.  Leah is like a hot potato that no one wants to be left holding.  Jacob prefers younger sister Rachel to her.  Even her father, Laban, cannot wait to get her off his hands.  Laban uses Jacob’s love lust to foist Leah off on him. 
After all is said and done, however, Jacob still wants Rachel.  He is not content with the older sister “with lovely eyes.”  No, he must have Rachel, the graceful one . . . the beautiful one.  Jacob even works 7 extra years for Rachel.  And he continues to prefer Rachel and to show Rachel favouritism.
            You would think that great things await Rachel.  That the long awaited Chosen One – or Messiah- would come through Rachel.  But,  God has different plans.  Our “Plan A” may not be God’s plan.  God has special interest in the small things- a mustard seed, a grain of yeast, or a fine pearl.
            Jesus tells us the Kingdom of God is made from such things.  Sure, it starts small.  It even appears insignificant and worthless.  However, the mustard seed and the grain of yeast are capable of great- even extraordinary- things.
The grain of yeast is so powerful that it can cause a lump of dough to rise.  After some time, and after baking in the oven, the yeast-infused dough becomes tasty bread that satisfies our hunger.  Likewise, the simple mustard seed is capable of growing and growing.  Given enough time, the seed transforms into a tree-like bush that provides shade and shelter. 
In the same way, Leah- despised, rejected, and unloved Leah- is never God’s second best.  When others overlook her and shun her, Leah is not forgotten by God.  Leah is- and was- always God’s “Plan A.”  She proves the truth of Paul’s words: “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose . . . In all things, we are more than conquerors through God who love{s} us” (Romans ).
God richly blesses Leah with the gift of  children.  Time after time, she conceives and bears Jacob a son.  Each time she hopes and prays.  Each time, Leah says, “now my husband will love me.  I have done what my sister is unable to do.”  Sadly, this never comes to be.  Jacob always loves Rachel more.
However, one of Leah’s sons is Judah.  Judah goes on to father Perez by Tamar.  Perez fathers Hezron.  Hezron fathers Ram, who fathers Amminadab.  Go on down a few more generations and Boaz fathers Obed by Ruth.  And Obed has a son named Jesse, who fathers many sons.  One of Jesse’s sons- in fact, the youngest, the runt of the litter- is David.  David goes on to be remembered as Israel’s greatest King.
Many generations later, this line going back to Leah and Jacob gives us Matthan, the father of another Jacob.  This other Jacob fathers Joseph.  Joseph marries a woman named Mary, who gives birth to a wandering teacher and carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth.
You see, God loves each and every person.  Not just some people.  Not just the rich and famous.  Not just those who have it all together.  Each and every person matters to God.  John 3:16 reminds us that "God so loved the world . . . "  That world includes the Leahs of this world.  Those who are unloved or pushed to the sidelines.  Those who were picked last when we were chosing teams for kick ball. 
             Paul tells us that nothing, absolutely positively cannot can keep us from God's love.  Even death itself, that seeming final and ultimate barrier, no longer has the power to separate us from the boundless mercies of God's love.  Just ask Leah.

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