And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 Corinthians 3:18
Becoming is costly whether single or married. When we choose to allow our story to keep us hostage, it affects the person we are becoming.
That certainly was the case for me when I was married. My less than perfect marriage was not what I expected at all. I thought I married a “Rachel”, but ended up with a “Leah”.
All of us go into marriage with certain expectations. Every married couple experiences the reality that they didn’t marry “Rachel”—perfect, beautiful, and everything they wanted and dreamed of marrying. But eventually discover that they married “Leah”—imperfect and not the one they thought they were marrying after all.
The drama of the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel begins to unfold in the twenty-ninth book of Genesis, verses 16-25:
Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was Rachel that Jacob loved. So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”
“It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.” So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife; I’ve completed what we agreed I’d do. I’m ready to consummate my marriage.”
Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.) Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed!
What a surprise the next morning for Jacob to discover that who He thought he had married was not who he had expected; that beautiful Rachel had been substituted for plain Leah!
Life is full of this is not what I expected stories. We didn’t expect to be childless, didn’t expect to still be single, didn’t expect to be divorced, didn’t expect our kids to be rebellious, didn’t expect to be sick, didn’t expect to be on top of the world one day and in the valley the next.
But it is the “Leah” in our lives that we didn’t expect that God molds our most important becoming—our sanctification—our becoming like Christ.
The amazing thing about the story of Leah is that “Leah” is not only about ending up with a person or life we didn’t expect. It is about realizing that there is a “Leah” in each one of us.
Perhaps like Leah, you have been brokenhearted, unloved, rejected, and even humiliated. You have a choice. You can either stay focused on the chapter of your story that hurt or disappointed you, repeat the same chapter over and over, or be honest and brave enough to allow God to write a new chapter by asking yourself: Who am I becoming, and does it reveal my becoming like Christ?
God noticed that Leah was unloved and blessed her to have children. But Leah stayed stuck in repeating the same chapter in her efforts to win Jacob’s love. Verses 31-34 in Genesis 29 says:
When the Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, he made it possible for Leah to have children, but not Rachel.
Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, because she said, “The Lord has seen my troubles. Surely now my husband will love me.”
Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon and said, “The Lord has heard that I am not loved, so that he has given me this son.”
Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi and said, “Now surely my husband will be close to me, because I have given him three sons.”
Leah hoped that Jacob would begin to love her with the birth of each of her sons, but he still had eyes only for Rachel. But it was in verse 35 that Leah’s focus shifted from trying to change her husband to changing herself.
For the first time in naming her sons, the love for God became her longing rather than longing for the love of Jacob.
Then Leah gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, because she said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Then Leah stopped having children.
It is not easy to own our part in becoming like Jesus in order that our lives can be transformed. The key to how to make this happen is written in our devotional text. The New King James version says:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
With her “weak” eyes, Leah decided not to focus on her being unloved by her husband but fix her gaze on the Lord and behold Him.
We become what we behold. Behold means “to see or observe.” Whatever we behold or focus on will affect our heart and our character. That is why Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to keep our eyes focused on Christ.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Keeping my eyes focused on Jesus is what I had to do to surrender my marriage with all my hurt, unforgiveness, distrust, and expectations to God for the Lord to restore my marriage, renew my love for my husband until the day he died, and bless me with miracles too many to mention.
Marriage can either make you or break you. It will play an important part in your becoming. Like Peter who kept his eyes focused on Jesus while walking on the water towards Him (Matthew 14:29), I realized that if I had not kept my focus on Jesus, that chapter of my story would have drowned me in despair.
I would not have stayed married to see the fruit of my loyalty to Jesus and my husband and to be blessed with a beautiful daughter or hear how our marriage impacted the lives of so many others.
In her book, Same Life, New Story, Jan Silvious writes about the difference Leah’s transformation made in her story.
The interesting long-term outcome of Leah’s new attitude and story is that her fourth son, Judah—the son of her song of praise—became the father of the most important tribe in all of Israel. It was his tribe that God sent His only Son into the world. And Jesus, the Christ, the savior of the world became known as the “Lion of Judah.” Now that’s what you call a great ending to a story!
Your story and my story matter to God, because through our stories, others see His story. We are all in the process of becoming.
The question is are we becoming more like Jesus, becoming more like the world, or becoming more distant from Jesus because our story is not what we hoped or expected it to be.
Who you become in the year ahead is contingent upon what you focus on and what influences you. Today, the last day of the year, take the time to look back over 2018 and reflect on where you placed your focus and what people, places and things shaped or distracted your becoming like Jesus.
God wants to write a new chapter in your story that you never imagined. Trust Him and “see”!
Prayer: Lord, my choices this year have not always been what I needed to choose in becoming more like you. I know that the enemy aims to get me to behold and focus on anything but you. Please forgive me for allowing sin to affect my becoming like you. The fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—were not always evident in my life. I am looking forward to a new year, with a new chapter in my becoming more like you. Jesus, take my not so pretty story and make it beautiful as I behold and fix my eyes on you in the coming year. In Jesus name. Amen.