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Sunday, January 24, 2016

ADD: Affection Deficit Disorder

A deep sadness envelops Leah and overshadows all that she does. She is unloved by Jacob and everyone knows it. Similarly, a deep sadness occurs, month in and month out, as barrenness hovers over Rachel’s life like a dark cloud. Everyone is aware of her deficiency. Both women live with a deficit: Leah lacks love and Rachel lacks babies. Ripe conditions for competition. 
Women compete with one another for value, accolades, prominence, love, and affection. With every baby Leah hopes to experience Jacob’s love. She wants what Rachel has. The arrival of each of Leah’s babies reminds the Rachel of the one thing she lacks: a fertile womb. She wants what Leah has. 
Each woman suffers with a competitive spirit and ADD, Affection Deficit Disorder. 
  • Jacob’s affection isn’t quite enough while Rachel’s womb remains empty. Leah has what Rachel wants, the affection of sons.
  • A packed nursery doesn’t replace the empty heart of Jacob’s dutiful nightly visits into Leah’s tent. Rachel possesses what Leah wants. Leah craves the affection given by loving husbands to loved wives. 
Both women live with continual disappointment as they focus on what the other has. A completive spirit is born on the wings of insecurity. Women compensate for the thing they lack (insecurity) by focusing on the one thing in which they excel (Leah’s womb and Rachel’s beauty). 
It takes Jacob, the man on the run from God, even longer to come to the end of himself. A beautiful wife, the clamor of other women for his attention, increasing family and wealth are poor substitutes for what is missing from his life. He too, has Affection Deficit Disorder
A number of truths emerge from this story:
  • The dull ache of living outside of the garden of Eden affects the hearts of both men and women. Competition with other women is a symptom of a spiritual problem. An obsession to gain wealth is a symptom of a spiritual problem. 
  • The awareness of deficiencies reminds both men and women that no human relationship or work can fill the void inherited in the hearts of all when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. 
  • Outward beauty cannot erase sin in the heart; full nurseries cannot empty the heart of sin; and, hard work and the accumulation of possessions cannot expunge sin from the heart. 
  • Everyone is born with Affection Deficit Disorder. Some feel it more acutely than others. Women substitute personal beauty, the love and affection of husbands and children for the affection of Christ. Men substitute beautiful women and personal kingdom-building for a relationship with Christ. 
Paul emphasizes the beauty and reality of Christ’s affection, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy. . .” (Philippians 2:1). The Spirit fills the craving hearts of those belonging to Christ with the affection of Christ. He is what the soul longs for.

Older Post
Building Blocks of a Nation 
"Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob and Jacob lay with her" (Genesis 29:16,22-23).

God elevates Leah, the "un-pretty one" with her crossed eyes, insecurity, and scheming ways, by making her the matriarch of the kingly tribe of Judah and the priestly tribe of Levi. She, of course, never realizes her contribution to the covenant people of God and nation during her lifetime. And Jacob? He would have made a great 21st century politician with his lying and scheming. 

God chooses unlikely people as building blocks of the people and nation promised to Abraham. The scheming and sibling rivalry behavior of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah demonstrate the truth found in Paul's letter to the pagan-background Corinthian believers:
"For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen to shame the things which are might; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

One of the great mysteries of the Bible is how God takes and uses flawed people. Yes, they live with the negative consequences of their actions, but somehow in the wisdom of God their behavior doesn't prevent God from accomplishing His redemptive process. God is SO big that He is able to discipline us with the consequences of our mistakes while accomplishing His will, in spite of serious errors/sins on our part. Obviously, that doesn't excuse the attitude that Paul had to address with those abusing grace: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Romans 6:1).

The Genesis stories, especially, encourage flawed people as they identify with the imperfect people found in the drama of these foundational stories of the Bible. When we understand that God doesn't call the perfect, but rather He perfects the flawed, then we are able to receive His grace and extend His grace to others.  

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller challenges the reader to evaluate whether he/she really understands and walks in grace. Read it and be blessed.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Genesis 28:10-30:43 
  • Describe Jacob's physical and spiritual state when God speaks to him in a dream. 
  • What does God's promise do for Jacob and how does he respond to God's promise? 
  • What does Leah think having children will do for her and her relationship with Jacob? 
  • How do women use their children today to meet their unmet emotional and relationship needs? Why is this unhealthy? 
  • Describe God's relationship with Leah. What does this tell you about God? 
  • Describe God's relationship with Rachel. What does this teach you about God?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to use your past failures to help you understand grace and extend grace to others.