Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Page 2 of 32

Rahab’s Journal: See

I am praying hard for Boaz. He is off his food and seems preoccupied. The harvest is good this year and the farm is going well; I think the trouble is with his heart.

Naomi has been a good friend for many years and we knew her husband and the boys when they were little. It’s natural for us to discuss her and Ruth at our dinner table. It’s clear to me that Boaz admires Ruth. Indeed, how could he not? She left everything to come to Bethlehem as a refugee with her mother-in-law, and her faith in God shines out.

I’ve never heard Ruth complain about her lot or look discontent. For all she’s so young, she is a widow, and I’m sure her heart aches at times. Then there is the fact that she and Naomi are very poor. I try to help all I can without embarrassing them, and Boaz has instructed his farmhands to deliberately leave extra crops behind for Ruth to glean.

I suspect Boaz has fallen for Ruth and I’m glad of it. But will he make a move? I don’t know. He sees her beautiful character – everyone can – but I wonder whether he is afraid he’s too old for her? It’s true, he’s older than most bridegrooms. But he has kept himself for the right woman. In my heart of hearts, I’m certain Ruth is the one. If only Boaz would see it.

Rahab’s Journal: Faith

I admire that young Ruth. Naomi told me that Ruth insisted on leaving her own country to come with her mother-in-law. It seems that Ruth, too, has put her faith in the God of Israel. She said that Naomi’s God would be her God, and that she wanted to live and die among Naomi’s kin.

Ruth is doing everything in her power to help Naomi practically too. They don’t seem to have two coins to rub together, but Ruth is a hard worker. Every day has been out to Boaz’s farm, gleaning the grain at the edges of the field left behind by the harvesters. She even asked permission. Boaz has told Ruth not to go to anyone else’s farm- it can be dangerous for a pretty young woman to be out in the fields with the men. Not all are honourable and Boaz was concerned that she might get taken advantage of on another farm. His father brought him up well and I’m proud of his kindness.

The more I hear of Ruth, the more I like her. She is a fine young woman and I’d love to see her get married again. I wonder if that son of mine has noticed her? Lord, open his eyes so he can see what’s in front of him.

Rahab’s Journal: Kindred

Years have passed since I last wrote in my journal. Boaz is a grown man now, and taken over the family farm. He isn’t married, says he is waiting for the right girl. I pray she will appear before I am too old to enjoy my grandchildren!

Bethlehem is all stirred up at the minute.

My old friend Naomi has returned. But what a sad home coming for her. She left with a fine husband and two sons. She has come back a childless widow.

‘Don’t call me Naomi anymore,’ she said, ‘call me Mara because God has taken everything away.’

Mara means bitter. That certainly seems to sum up how Naomi feels right now. All I could do was put my arms around her. I’m planning to pop round later with some things for her. All she seems to have are the clothes on her back.

A young woman was with her. Naomi said her name is Ruth. She was married to one of Naomi’s sons and apparently insisted on returning to Bethlehem with Naomi. Ruth reminds me a bit of myself; she’s an outsider who has left everything to be with God’s people. We must make her feel especially welcome.

 

Celebrate: Good Plans

I’ve loved looking at Rahab’s life these last few days. She was a ‘woman of the night’ who sold sex to men. Someone it would be easy to look down upon, but God had His sights set on her.

God loved Rahab from the depths of His heart. He had plans for her life: to rescue her out of the brothel and bring her into friendship with Him. Although Rahab couldn’t have known it at the time, she played in integral part in the Jews’ history. Her son Boaz married Ruth, a widow from a despised nation. Ruth was an outsider, but Boaz had been taught by his parents to welcome those who are ‘different’.

And God chose this family line through which to send His Son. What astounding grace to a prostitute! No one seeing Rahab working in Jericho could possibly imagine the wonderful plans God had for her.

How amazing it is to know that God has plans and dreams for us. He has good things for me, and He has good things for you.

I have dreams and hopes for myself. Some of those dreams I’ve had to lay down: the dream of having children. Does that mean God has a second-best plan for me? Or that He doesn’t love me as much as He does someone else to whom He has given children? No way! He is crazy about me. It just means His plans for me are far better than the best dreams I have for myself.

I love that God plants hopes and longings in my heart, and then fulfils those desires. And He always has far better planned for me than anything I can imagine.

Knowing Him is to know true life. It really is. And so I celebrate God today, and the way He fulfils my heart’s desires and that He dreams over me good plans. Whoop! What a God! Yee haaah!!!

Rahab’s Journal: Led

So much has happened in the last couple of years that I’ve had no time for writing.

We moved about eighteen miles south of Jericho to a delightful little town called Bethlehem. The whole family moved here with us: my parents and Elizabeth and Jonathan. Salmon and I have a small house with a courtyard that is fairly close to the well. That makes life easy for me, not so far to carry water. And that’s important, because of the other thing that has kept me busy….

We have a son 🙂

Our little one is called Boaz and he is the joy of my heart.

We weren’t sure whether I could have children. There are certain diseases in my old line of work that can make a woman infertile. It’s what you might call an occupational hazard. So when I wasn’t with child soon after our wedding, I had my doubts. But my dear mum-in-law Elizabeth prayed. She never gave up hope.

I love our little Boaz. When I look into his big brown eyes, my heart just melts with love for him. I wonder what he will grow up to be, what plans the Lord has for him?

I am thankful for how God has led me, all the way from my brothel in Jericho, to a welcoming family, and here to our home in Bethlehem. He brought Salmon and me together and now we have our little Boaz. God has led me out of the oppression of sex work and into a spacious place of blessing. I don’t deserve this, but I’m glad – oh so glad – that He has accepted me. He is healing me and making me whole from the inside out.

My faith is in the one true God, the only God. He has not let me down, and I know He never will. I love Him.

 

Rahab’s Journal: Free

Elizabeth and Jonathan couldn’t have been happier or more welcoming when their son Salmon married me. They have been so kind, knowing what I was and where I came from. Not everyone would want an ex-prostitute for a daughter-in-law.

And Salmon. Words can’t begin to express how I feel about him. I never knew the relationship between a man and a woman could be like this…. It’s more than just a physical action. I had no idea what an amazing gift from God sex is when I worked in my brothel in Jericho; I was cheating myself and my customers by misusing something so precious. 

At first I found the physical side of our marriage difficult. I felt so ashamed and dirty. But Salmon was gentle and kind. He spoke truth over me: that I am one of God’s people now, that I’ve been forgiven and accepted by God. He assures me of his love by his words and actions. He’s so affectionate. Salmon’s nickname for me is Ruby because he says my worth is far above the price of rubies.  

I’ve realised that the more I believe truth about myself, the freer I am to be the woman God made me to be. It’s a process. God has a plan for my life, and He is good. His plans are to give me a hope and a future, not to destroy and pull me down. The Lord rescued me because He delights in me.

Rahab’s Journal: Live

It’s only in these last few months since God rescued me from Jericho that I feel I’ve truly lived. I’m still in awe that He would let me become one of His people.

I adore the Sabbath day when we all worship together. My dear friend Elizabeth is devoted to God and loves to pray. She tells God everything and trusts that He will answer. I love seeing her eyes sparkle when she talks about Him.

I’ve learned so much from Elizabeth. About living in friendship with God. Imagine a God that constantly reaches out to you. The most exciting thing is that He promised centuries ago that one day He will send a special Deliverer for His people. And this is when Elizabeth’s eyes truly begin to shine: ‘It’s not just for the Jews, He will be a Deliverer for the whole world. And that includes you Rahab!’

I feel alive in so many ways, all thanks to this God: 

He saved my life when Jericho was destroyed.

He has given me a new way of life that is so much better and more fulfilling than what I used to do. It’s like having a second chance.

I’m looking forward to when He sends His Deliverer. It may not be in my life-time (though how exciting if it was!) but I know it will happen. It’s as certain as the sun rising each day.

And I think life for me is going to become even better in the next few months. Jonathan and his son Salmon have been having hush-hush meetings with my dad….

Rahab’s Journal: Preserve

My family and I could have easily felt out of place in this Israelite camp, but they have all been so welcoming. One family in particular has been very friendly; Jonathan and Elizabeth have taken us under their wings.

They have quite a large family, from Salmon a strapping young man in his early twenties to nine-year-old Jael.

Today, Jael took me to see the memorial stones by the Jordan. She skipped alongside me chattering non-stop. When her people (or should I say ‘my’ people now?) were camped on the other side of the great river, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant walked down into the water first. As soon as their feet touched it, the river began to part on either side, forming great walls of water.

Jael’s words tumbled over themselves as she breathlessly told me how she’d walked on the dry river bed holding her abba’s hand, looking up at the walls of water on either side of her. She even saw fish swimming in the banked up water.

When all the people had crossed over, the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant through the river bed and up the bank. Only then did the waters rush back into place with a huge crash.

‘Water splashed everywhere!’ giggled Jael. Her eyes were glowing with the wonders she’d seen.

‘There!’ she stopped and pointed.

I looked and saw the towering pile of memorial stones, boulders really.

‘Why so many?’ I wondered aloud.

‘There are twelve, one for each of the tribes of Israel.’ Jael explained. ‘God said that when our children and grandchildren ask us why they are there, we can tell them how He parted the River Jordan so we could walk across safely on dry ground.’

I nodded. I was falling more and more in love with this amazing God who does wonders for His people. My heart leapt as I realised that I am now one of them. He preserved their lives in the Jordan River, but He preserved my life when Jericho was destroyed. I love Him. 

 

 

Rahab’s Journal: Forgiven

What a week. I don’t quite know what to make of it, really. At least we’re all safe and together, me and my family.

Not long after the spies escaped, we saw the Israelites camped outside Jericho. The king closed the gates and prepared for a siege. There was an odd stillness in the air, as if the very presence of God was here. Quite unnerving.

One week ago today, we heard trumpets blowing. My dad and brothers and me ran up onto the roof of my house to see what was going on. What a sight met our eyes. The Israelite army marched along followed by seven priests blowing trumpets, sunlight glinting off the instruments. Behind, was the famous and much-feared Ark of the Covenant as their rear guard.

Aside from the trumpets, there was absolute silence. Not one of the soldiers spoke. It was eerie.

Although I’m a grown woman and a prostitute, I felt for my dad’s hand and held it fast.

‘You’re sure the spies will keep their word, Rahab?’ he said.

‘If they are like their God, they will,’ I replied. I slipped downstairs and double-checked the scarlet sash was visible in the window.

For six days, the same thing happened. The army marched around the city walls once in silence, with the seven priests blowing the trumpets.

Everyone in Jericho was terrified. I wished they would listen to me so they could be safe too, but they continued to pray to the useless gods of Jericho for salvation.

This morning, the army and the priests with their trumpets and the Ark of the Covenant walked in silence around the city walls seven times. I noticed some of the soldiers looking up at the scarlet sash in my window, and my heart beat fast. I was certain something was about to happen.

As they completed the seventh lap, the army let out a great shout. And – I’m still shaking from the shock of it – the huge, thick walls of Jericho went crashing to the ground as though something powerful had struck them.

At once, the two spies I’d hidden, came looking for me and my family. They took us to safety, to their camp.

As I’m writing this, I’m overwhelmed with the enormity of it. My mum can’t stop crying, it’s all been a bit much for her. I know how she feels. The whole city wall collapsed, just like that. But my house and the part of the wall it was built on stayed standing.

The only thing I’m sure of right now is that the God of Israel is my God. I reached out to Him in faith and He heard the cry of my heart. I know I am forgiven, and I’m determined to leave my life of prostitution behind.

 

 

 

 

Rahab’s Journal: Wise

Two men came to my house yesterday. That’s not unusual in my line of business. I’d been watching them from my bedroom window; I felt certain they were up to something. These two looked like decent blokes and I didn’t want them getting into trouble. 

I ran downstairs, opened my front door and beckoned to them.

The old battle-axe who lives down the road spotted me and stomped into her house, slamming the door. I shrugged my shoulders. So what? I don’t care.

I invited the men inside. I’m not sure, to be honest, that they knew what I was or where they were. My main room is tastefully decorated but what with the mirrors and linens draped around the walls, you can’t really mistake it.

I nearly laughed out loud when the coin finally dropped and the pair realised where they were.

‘Look, it’s pretty obvious you’re up to something. If I can tell, the king is going to be on to you like nobody’s business. Now, who are you and what are you doing here?’

Turns out the two men were spies, sent out by Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites. They are coming to invade my country. My heart sank.

Even in Jericho, we’d heard the stories of the famous God of Israel. How He’d done awesome signs and wonders for His people when they were slaves in Egypt and rescued them. Pharaoh and his army were made to look pathetic against this rag-tag group with their powerful God. Their God was Someone to be reckoned with.

I’d listened to the stories of the God of Israel and always secretly wished I could know Him. He sounded incredible, the way He fought for His people, rescuing them from slavery. The gods of Jericho just don’t compare. We bow and scrape and sacrifice, but they do absolutely nothing for us.

While we were talking, someone banged on my door.

‘Quick,’ I pushed the spies ahead of me up the stairs and onto my roof, and hid them under some stalks of flax I was storing up there.

Then I raced back down the stairs and opened the front door. It was officials from the palace. Word had evidently reached the king that I was harbouring the spies. 

Good job I’m quick at thinking on my feet.

‘Oh yes, love, they were here,’ I told the officials, ‘but you’ve missed them. They left just before the city gates were closed. They haven’t gone long. If you’re quick, you’ll catch them.’

Thankfully, they believed me. They had no reason not to. After all, a couple of them were regulars….

Once the officials left, I went back to the roof. Now to take my chance.

‘I know the Lord has given you this land. I’ve heard how He’s fought for your people over the years. We, in Jericho, are terrified of Him. The Lord is the Creator God. Now, I’ve got a favour to ask. Since I’ve saved your lives, when you invade the city, please promise me you won’t kill me or any of my family.’

I was trembling inside. I gave it everything I’d got. Would God’s people be as kind as their God?

To my great relief, both spies nodded.

‘Yes okay. See this scarlet sash? Bring all of your family into your house, your mum and dad, brothers and sisters, everyone, and then tie this scarlet sash in the window. We promise that when we invade the city, everyone inside your house will be safe.’

I swallowed hard and nodded. ‘Thank you.’

In case my house was being watched, we tied a rope from the roof onto the city wall, on which my house is built, and the spies climbed down and escaped.

I’ve made a wise move I think. I hope the spies will keep their word.

 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Mandy Baker Johnson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑