Francine Rivers is an incredible author. The amount of research she does and her attention to the little details is amazing. This book is a collection of five stories on the five women mentioned by name in the lineage of Christ: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.
I was challenged to think more about these women then I thought possible and found myself reading their biblical accounts deeper than ever before. One of the biggest view changes was Bathsheba.
I had always thought of her as a temptress and also a weak character but now I am inclined to think a little differently. For example, who would you say had the biggest influence on Solomon? I would argue that his mother did and I believe some of her influence can be seen in Proverbs 31.
While we don't know for sure, I tend to believe that King Lemuel was Solomon and that the godly advice was given by his mother Bathsheba. I have pondered on this thought and believe that the Virtuous woman mentioned here in proverbs is none other than Ruth, David's great grandmother. If you think about it for a moment it all fits both time wise and literally. Bathsheba was arguably David's favorite wife and it is possible that he would have mentioned the incredible story of how his great grandmother came to live in Israel and became one of them. Perhaps as Bathsheba listened she realized that this was the kind of woman she wanted for her son, a woman who would make a great queen. If you do some comparing you will find that Ruth matches the Virtuous woman almost line for line. "Her husband is known in the gates", Boaz was known for sure. "She works willingly with her hands", no doubt Ruth did that more than once. "She reacheth forth her hands to the needy" Ruth was a woman of compassion. In fact Ruth is the only woman in scripture that was given the title, "Virtuous Woman" which would then make sense for that title to be used to describe the kind of woman a good man should look for, especially a king.
Bathsheba's story is just one of five in this book and several of the others were also very insightful. While Francine Rivers adds dialogue and additional details I believe she strove to remain true to the biblical account and time period. She also leaves her readers with a thought in each story, like Bathsheba's. She was a woman who was sorry for her sin and sought to be forgiven and restored, a request that was granted by the One who remembers our sins no more.
There was once a fellow who, with his dad, farmed a little piece of land. Several times a year they would load up the old ox-drawn cart with vegetables and go into the nearest city to sell their produce. Except for their name and the patch of ground, father and son had little in common. The old man believed in taking it easy. The boy was usually in a hurry - the go-getter type.
One morning, bright and early, they hitched up the ox to the loaded cart and started on the long journey. The son figured that if they walked faster, kept going all day and night, they'd make market by early the next morning. So he kept prodding the ox with a stick, urging the beast to get a move on.
"Take it easy, son," said the old man. "You'll last longer."
"But if we get to market ahead of the others, we'll have a better chance of getting good prices," argued the son.
No reply. Dad just pulled his hat down over his eyes and fell asleep on the seat. Itchy and irritated, the young man kept goading the ox to walk faster. His stubborn pace refused to change.
Four hours and four miles later down the road, they came to a little house. The father woke up, smiled, and said, "Here's your uncle's place. Let's stop in and say hello."
"But we've lost an hour already," complained the hot shot.
"Then a few more minutes won't matter. My brother and I live so close, yet we see each other so seldom," the father answered slowly.
The boy fidgeted and fumed while the two old men laughed and talked away almost an hour. On the move again, the man took his turn leading the ox. As they approached a fork in the road, the father led the ox to the right.
"The left is the shorter way," said the son.
"I know it," replied the old man, "but this way is much prettier."
"Have you no respect for time?" the young man asked impatiently.
"Oh, I respect it very much! That's why I like to use it to look at beauty and enjoy each moment to the fullest."
The winding path led through graceful meadows, wildflowers, and along a rippling stream - all of which the young man missed as he churned within, preoccupied and boiling with anxiety. He didn't even notice how lovely the sunset was that day.
Twilight found them in what looked like a huge, colorful garden. The old man breathed in the aroma, listened to the bubbling brook, and pulled the ox to a halt. "Let's sleep here," he sighed.
"This is the last trip I'm taking with you," snapped the son. "You're more interested in watching sunsets and smelling flowers than in making money!"
"Why, that's the nicest thing you've said in a long time," smiled the dad. A couple minutes later he was snoring - as his boy glared back at the stars. The night dragged slowly, the son was restless.
Before sunrise the young man hurriedly shook his father awake. They hitched up and went on. About a mile down the road they happened upon another farmer - a total stranger - trying to pull his cart out of a ditch.
"Let's give him a hand," whispered the old man.
"And lose more time?" the boy exploded.
"Relax son. You might be in a ditch sometime yourself. We need to help others in need - don't forget that." The boy looked away in anger.
It was almost eight o'clock that morning by the time the other cart was back on the road. Suddenly, a great flash split the sky. What sounded like thunder followed. Beyond the hills, the sky grew dark.
"Looks like a big rain in the city," said the old man.
"If we had hurried, we'd be almost sold out by now," grumbled his son.
"Take it easy, you'll last longer. And you'll enjoy life so much more," counseled the kind old gentleman.
It was late afternoon by the time they got to the hill overlooking the city. They stopped and stared down at it for a long, long time. Neither of them said a word. Finally,, the young man put his hand on his father's shoulder and said, "I see what you mean, Dad."
They turned their cart around and began to roll slowly away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.
Perhaps, like me, you saw the trailer for a movie entitled "New Life" in your Facebook newsfeed. Because it starred Erin Bethea you may have paused to watch it since she also played in the Kendrick Brothers well done film, "Fireproof". I must admit I was intrigued from the very beginning. The story line looked solid and thought provoking but I enjoy happy ending movies. If it looks like one or both of the main characters will die I usually don't watch it or recommend it yet this one had me wanting to know more. The main reason I was curious was due to a line from the trailer, "the most important thing to do with life is to live it." I did end up watching it and if you have not seen it and want to avoid a spoiler alert please don't read the following. Erin's character does die and you will be in need of a box of tissues!
As I watched the film's final twenty minutes I was convinced that my preference for happy endings was still the best way to go. Here this woman dies leaving her husband absolutely heartbroken. Little did I know that the point of the film was just beginning to play out.
To fully understand the ending you should know a little about the beginning. The main characters, Ben and Ava, met at a young age and had a sweet love story as they spent their childhood together. Though they go through the usual ups and downs of a couple they ultimately marry and enjoy several years of wedded bliss. Tragedy would strike in the form of cancer ultimately taking Ava's life. Her death caused Ben to wallow in self pity as he slept on his couch surrounded by empty pizza boxes. A knock sounds on his front door one morning and when he finally decides to answer he finds his elderly neighbor holding a wooden handle to the boat parked outside Ben's house. This boat was the last project he and Ava had been working on together. The previous night he, in anger, had broken the rudder's handle. The neighbor simply stated that he wanted to return it and said he needed to sit in the bench located in Ben's front yard for a moment. Of course he sat outside until Ben came to sit beside him. Gently, after sharing that he too lost his wife, he said that there is still much more time to "make pictures"(if you watch the film you will understand what he meant).
The next scene shows Ben continuing the refinishing job he and Ava had begun. He is then joined by his neighbor, father, father in law and best friend. The remaining minutes of the film were very moving but you will have to watch it all in order to find out what happens:)
When the film was over there were a couple of thoughts that came to me. One, how much we need one another. I was deeply moved by the care and compassion that was given to Ben in his time of darkness by those around him. Not only had he lost the love of his life but also his will to live. In that moment people reached out to him in love and kindness, gently reminding him that his life still had a purpose. They came beside him and were willing to walk and encourage him at a time when he desperately needed it. I wonder how often I missed an opportunity to help someone when they needed encouragement as they faced a difficult season. We are to be a reflection of Christ's love to those around us and in fact it is to be the distinguishing feature of our life. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one for another" John 13:35.
The second part that grabbed me was Ben's closing statement. "There are mountain top experiences in our journey through this world, those rare moments when everything seems right and anything is possible. There are those ordinary days when we may not be thrillingly aware of what lies in the future but we know its still out there. There are also those strange times when things do not add up or make sense. When we seem to be forgotten. When the heavens are brass but it's all the moments good and bad that make up a life and the most important thing to do with life is to live it."
In order to have a balanced life I must know both joy and sorrow. I can never truly appreciate joy if I have never known sorrow. Life is a journey, one that can at times be rough but I, as a child of God have the promise that He will walk with me. He promises that all things work together for good for those who love Him. My life is a gift from God, both the good and the bad and the best thing I can do is to live my life.....to the glory of God.
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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