Old Testament Promise

Welcome back to a New Year and a new post! I hope you had a relaxing and fun filled holiday. We were on the go a lot (as usual!) but this year, I managed to set aside some time for just chillin’. It was a much needed “sabbath rest”. Perhaps I should post about that sometime.

However, it is not my intention to post about rest this post… in fact, quite the opposite. I’ve been thinking about power and wrath recently. Which seems far away from anything peaceful. I’ve been reflecting on some promises of God over the break, and in particular, this one:

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Nahum 1:3

It’s tucked away in one of those little books at the back of the old testament; tiny writings about the prophets and their respective prophecies. Nahum prophesied against the wicked Assyrian city of Nineveh and, in turn, comforts the people of Judah, that despite what looked like a dire situation, God was in control and would not allow evil to prevail forever. He is great in power, indeed!

We went with family and friends to see the latest Star Wars movie (The Rise of Skywalker) over the holiday. Now, you have to understand, I am a gracious mom and like a good action movie, so I obliged and got a ticket — but I really have no handle on the mega underworld of Star Wars junkies. I recognize some characters, and can appreciate good special effects, but when it comes to background story, character development, conspiracy theories and general folk lore of the Empire, I admit, I am a little lost. (That baby Yoda of the Mandalorian series is cute, though!) Sensing my loss in the discussion pending the above said movie, my middle Mitton summed it up for me: “Mom, you just need to know that the good guys won.” Profound, eh?

Any good movie, book or series always seems to have that delightful conclusion: Good defeats evil and the “good guys” always win… eventually. The plot twists and turns, and there seems to be no one coming to save the underdog… but eventually the people band together and save the day. Goodness prevails!

But I recognize that storybook happily ever afters are not always as evident as we hope. Perhaps your 2019 has been fraught with pain, heartache and deceit. Maybe you have been angry that God hasn’t answered your prayers. There has been no white-horsed cavalry to come save you from that thing that weighs heavy on your heart. Perhaps you are wishing for revenge. You have seen evil prospering and it is hard to watch as it festers and grows. The guilty seem to go unpunished. But then, we come back to our promise:

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Nahum 1:3

I’m claiming it today. I want to trust that God will take His vengeance on evil. That my mere fluff of anger at injustices will be but a puff of smoke compared to the storm clouds that God will conjure up. Will you join me? Will you be satisfied with knowing that “the good guys won?” Then I will raise my glass in victory with you, and toast to a new year, and an old, but comforting, promise.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Can you believe how fast the summer is flying by?!  It’s hard to fathom that it is already the last week of August!  Since we just returned from a little road trip to the USA, I thought I would share this late summer musing by blending a bit of American and Canadian content.

Since 1971, August 26th is celebrated in the United States as “Women’s Equality Day” — it commemorates the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the women’s right to vote.  I’ve taken it as an occasion to celebrate the ladies North of the Border as well.  (FYI, “International Women’s Day” is March 8th… perhaps we will celebrate then, too).  We walked along Rosa Parks Street on our recent trip to Cincinnati, and had a wonderful discussion with the kids about her role in Canadian history as well.  Racism. Women’s rights.  Environmental activism.  So many blog topics… so little time!  Let’s just look at one, shall we? Now, I’m not a big women’s libber… but have been musing about this topic since one of the books on my summer reading list was “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

handmaid

The book peaked my interest after seeing advertisements for the American Web TV’s series based on the novel.  I haven’t seen the television series (who’s first airing was in 2017) since my own imagination is probably less graphic than Hollywood’s visionaries… but it triggered my allure to the book, which I discovered was originally published in 1985.  It’s my first book by renowned Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.  The almost eighty-year-old famous Canadian is certainly well known to me, but I’ve never read her books until now!  I was not disappointed.  She is certainly a fine author, and definitely has a way with words.  I was immediately drawn in and devoured the book in less than a week.

The novel is written in the first person according to its main character, Offred.  It is her tale as a captive, fertile woman in the dystopian based realm of Gilead, which was once New England.  (She was captured trying to escape to Canada).  The “handmaids” are forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class known as “commanders”.  The handmaid name was borrowed from the biblical story of Rachel and Bilhah, from which Atwood quotes (Genesis 30).  It is not a tale for the faint of heart.  Atwood’s graphic (although brilliant) writing is what obviously sparked the movies and television series.  It is a twisted tale of power, steeped in the fundamentalist perversion of biblical old testament stories.  And so I muse… how many more women think of the Bible in this way?

From what I can gather, Atwood (a self confessed “strict agnostic”) does not see this particular book as a feminist work, but it nonetheless makes mention to the overall thought that women, as portrayed in (especially) the Old Testament Bible, are nothing more than vessels for bearing children.  I have often heard and seen many critiques of the Christian worldview, based on the fact that the Bible often makes references to this, and other “inferior” roles of women.  Does the God of the Bible condone such patriarchal views as Genesis 30? How do we explain the stories of Hosea or Sarah in a #metoo world?

This summer, I had the privilege of sitting under the words of Dr. Marion Taylor, the graduate director for University of Toronto’s Wycliffe college.  This tiny little lady, who got her PhD from Yale, came out on stage in this frocked and flowered dress, and yet spoke with such authority on women, that many of us sat in awe.  Her resounding message stuck with me:  does the righteous and sympathetic way we read the Bible reflect our understanding of how non-believers read the same stories?  Do we see Hosea as an intimate metaphor of Christ and the church, or as an abused wife who is told to love again after abuse?  Do we recognize the poetic language of Esther or Ruth in an ancient world or do we make current cultural flashpoint references in a confused society?

How do you read

As a scientist, wife, and mother of both sons and daughters, and as a believer … I am a complex mix in this world of feminist views.  I am compelled to see the old testament stories with a sympathetic view, and yet not compromise my beliefs that God has created a uniqueness in me, as an intelligent, gifted and competent woman.  I strive to raise my girls (and my boys) to be strong and capable.  I also choose to submit to my husband as the biblical authority in our home as a compatible wife.  Human beings are not perfect.  The old testament stories are prime examples of this.  Once we start to abuse Christ’s ultimate authority, and pervert His plan, it is no wonder we see the characters in the Bible as abused and enslaved.

And so, I must remember to see my bible studies not only as love stories to me, as woman, wife and mother, but to share them with others.  Others who may not yet understand their full identity in Christ as one who is honoured, loved and respected as one made in the image of God.