Help me make the Rainbow and the Sunset
My three-year-old starts all her prayers with the same sentence; "Help me make the rainbow and the sunset". She does not actually believe she's capable of art in the sky. Out of habit she has merged two thoughts; "Help me" and "Thank you for making the rainbow and the sunset". I think she means to start her prayer with a petition to someone who produces quality. Good place to begin.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female he created them.
My crisis of faith in college centered around those start of it all big questions. Is there a God? Did He create the world? Did He make me? Let me encourage you here. There are solid brain plugged in reasons to stand on those first claims of the Bible. I also believe starting there is key to a life of purpose and joy. When I look around in gratitude at the world in all its beauty I tend to drop my worry and breathe. And when I wonder about how to raise children with a good self esteem I try to start at the beginning. My kids believe God made them on purpose in His image to be creators and peacemakers and caretakers. He created you that way as well.
Such a great start. All good. And then. Chapter 3 of Genesis is the creation that rebels and the heartache that comes after. Most of the time my problems are also because I ignore my maker's instructions. Instructions like forgive. Don't let bitterness take root. Don't be jealous. Don't gossip. Tell the truth. I need help. So did Adam and Eve. Evil entered through the sin of pride and it ramped up quickly. Consequences abound.
Last week the eldest child went off to art camp. She created a Hobbit House. It's super cute. I love the laundry basket. She paid attention to little details and took her time. At the end of camp art show she smiled when I asked which house was hers. She hovered as people peered in the little windows. She called it good.
After the art show she was carefully walking to the car carrying her creation. Despite her attention, a large gust of wind tipped the whole board. The little laundry blew down the street. The tree fell over. It was sad. She hung her head.
When we got home the artist headed to the table, sat down and started to fix her house. Hot glue gun and new tissue paper, moss and twigs sat on our kitchen table. She tenderly sat about restoring her creation.
The entire theme of the book of Genesis can be summed up in this little story from art camp. The heart of an artist is to create and restore. God created. It was good. Rebellion wrecked it. Repeatedly. God set about a grand plan to redeem and restore the creation. Really that's the whole Bible and the whole story of human history but it starts in Genesis.
Genesis is 50 chapters full of sordid stories of human moral failure and God's faithful rescuing. God's plan involves blessing one man, Abraham, and his entire family, the Israelites, in order to save humanity. He hinted early of a promised one coming to rescue the day and that promise was carried forward throughout the narrative. I can't tell you everything - its really better if you read it yourself - but here are a few of my favorite life lessons from Genesis:
Genesis 7: Noah and his family and all the animals are tucked into the ark. I love Genesis 7:16 "And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded and the Lord closed it behind him."
The family and the future of the world is inside. Storm is outside. Death and destruction headed their way. And the Lord closed the door behind them. Sometimes God shuts a door to protect you from the storm outside.
Genesis 13 and Genesis 18-19 Abraham and Lot. Abraham is Lot's uncle. They are traveling together. Between the two of them they own entirely too many sheep. Not enough grass. Abraham tells Lot to pick where he wants to live - they are family after all - family shouldn't fight about stuff. So Lot looks around and picks the best land for himself. Fancy end of town. Turns out he's right by Sodom and Gomorrah. Nasty violent place. Fire from the sky demolishes the city and Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt. (Sidebar - I read one commentary that said she likely died and a sand storm covered her body - I don't know about all that, pillar of salt sounds scarier). Goodness. Selfishness is a sure way to put yourself in danger.
Genesis 15: God takes his chosen person, Abram, out to a field late at night and tells him to consider the stars. God promises that Abram's descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Genesis 15:6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Abram is a mess of a person. He's fearful and worried and unfaithful and his weakness allows people to be hurt. And yet, God credited him as faithful because he believed that God would do what God said he would do. God does the heavy lifting.
Genesis 16: Sarah . Oh Sarah dear. This woman has a problem with patience. She has a problem with trust. She worries that God forgot his promise. She thinks that she can fix her own problems. Sarah tells her husband to have a child with Hagar, her maid. And like I frequently do when I try to control - Sarah makes her problems worse. God's plan unfolds in his time much cleaner if I stay out of the way.
Genesis 21: Hagar. This woman is Sarah's maid and Abraham's concubine. Trapped between two people and worried for her son, Ishmael. Hagar runs away. Twice. I love that God sees this forgotten and marginalized woman. He finds her, feeds her, cares for her and promises her a future. God sees people in pain.
Genesis 22: The sacrifice of Isaac. This is one of the hardest stories in the Bible. God tells Abraham to take his son and kill him in a sacrifice to God. Abraham takes action to obey. At the last minute, God stops him and provides a ram for the sacrifice. Such a hard story. My mother heart recoils. I have heard lots of sermons that say the message is about not having anything I hold tighter to than God - including my children. But I wonder if this story is partly to make me recognize the pain of the sacrifice. God did with his son, Jesus, what he never required of anyone else.
Genesis 25: Jacob and Esau. First born Esau. Set to inherit big time. Sneaky little brother Jacob. Esau is out hunting and Jacob is home making stew. Esau comes home hungry. Jacob offers to give him a bowl of stew in exchange for his entire inheritance. Esau says yes. Really dumb move. How about you don't sell out your future for 5 minutes of pleasure?
Genesis 37 - 50; Joseph's grand epic story. Twelve brothers. Joseph's the baby. Joseph's dad likes him the best. Really never a good idea. Brothers sell him into slavery, tell the dad he died. Joseph gets the rawest deal in history because he's then set up by the unfaithful wife of his boss and off to prison he goes. And then the greatest underdog comeback in history and Joseph is promoted to being second in command for the entire country. His brothers show up begging for help because of a great famine. Greatest shock in history when he reveals his identity. The brothers are terrified that Joseph is going to exact revenge. And this verse. This verse gets me. Genesis 50: 20 And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. God has a plan to bring great beauty out of pain.
Genesis is full of stories that all point to the need of humanity and the grace of the Father. Rachel and Rebekah. Judah and Benjamin. Cain and Able. Anger and Forgiveness. Destruction and Redemption. Genesis. He made the rainbow and the sunset. He intends to help us.
I absolutely love the YouTube series Read Scripture. When someone pointed these out to me I briefly thought about not writing anything but posting a link to these videos and calling it good. If you've never read Genesis or if you have a hard time tying it all together these two videos are worth your time.
I also love these infographics from New Spring Church. Quick and useful. I'll be keeping them all pinned up on the Quirky Faith Pinterest board.
I love the Francine River's book Lineage of Grace. Here is a link to one of the novellas included in that book about one of the hard stories in Genesis. Read it and learn about Tamar.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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