I once described to a friend that I needed to have all my “ducks in a row” in life. “Since when do ducks swim in a row?” I was asked. “Well, my ducks do – and they quack on demand too.” I sincerely believe that at one point, Rahab had her ducks in a row. She provided for her own safety by sacrificing a part of herself. I do that too. My sacrifice is my sanity, for the sake of planning and scheming and worrying about the next big change, and even small change, in my life. But then, something, Someone threatened her – and my - sense of survival in a way that caused a tsunami to overtake her ducks and drown them, feathers, quacks and all.
The city of Jericho was surrounded by a wall so fortified that the cities’ own endurance was rarely questioned. It was a powerhouse so unshakable that the gods themselves could not pass through. It was the ultimate wall of safety and survival, and the smart people lived behind its security. Until the wind blew stories of a God so gigantic and colossal that suddenly the walls were scrawny in comparison. Those who lived in Jericho lived in denial of an inevitable confrontation. Would their walls hold? No one dared to consider this. Except Rahab. Here the lone prostitute entertained men while entertaining musings of the God of Israel. Did she dare to wonder about God while she welcomed a man to her bed? The ungodliness of such a thing strikes me as a sharp contrast to my life until I pause and consider … do I even dare to wonder about God as I welcome my own means of self-created survival into my soul?
As she mused, she grew convinced that the God of Israel was not a God to be challenged. Perhaps, one morning, Rahab stepped to her balcony that overlooked the wall of Jericho and had visions of it crumbling to the ground. Were I Rahab, I would have begun to scheme. And I do. My wall of Jericho and my means of continued existence, whatever it may be, is my sanctuary and protection. It’s whatever I hold in this life to be my means of fortification and if it is threatened, I take to my table like Rahab takes to hers and begin to map out multiple escape routes. The Israelites and their God are coming. They are looming in the distance, threatening my walls, threatening my way of life and promising that a drastic change, a shift of power is on the horizon.
I don’t know that Rahab expected the knock on her door, or the Israelites spies hidden on her rooftop, or the deceitful web she would weave when questioned about their whereabouts. I do know that somewhere in the course of hearing about the God of Israel and her first visit with the Israelites, Rahab made a decision that would forever change her life. It would be marked in scarlet red.
This decision was unplanned, unexpected, unrealistic, and unadvised. This decision was to reach out and grasp hold of faith. Faith in stories of a God she had not experienced personally. Faith in a dream of a God so immense He could tear down the very walls around her that spoke of power and make them minuscule in His wake. Faith in a God that would rip from her the very existence she’d carved out for herself. Faith in a God that would demand that He be in charge of her survival and safety.
“…swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure a sign that you … will save us from death.”
Her entreaty to the Israelite spies begged for security that she could put her faith in. A sure sign. Something tangible that she could hold onto. A plan. A promise.
“Our lives for your lives!” they cried. “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window.”
Did her look of faith waver? Did her expectant smile droop in disappointment? I think mine would have. I want to rave, “thanks a lot. I’m willing to trust You and you give me a scarlet cord in return? Way to go, God. A piece of cloth? A rope? A bright red woven cord? Where’s the military strategy in that? War is coming! You’re threatening to tear my walls down and I’m asking that You at least let me survive it! Give me some assurance here … my life is at stake!”
So, what’s my recourse? I’ll take the scarlet cord, hang it from my window and then think up my next line of defense. A means to fortify my walls. An escape plan. Two, three, four, five escape plans, for goodness' sakes. Just in case God screws up. I’ll pack my bags. I’m ready to run and I know where I’m going, and if that route gets blocked I have an alternate map in mind for a different road on which to flee …
With startling clarity, I believe Rahab understood, much quicker than I. There are no cries of protest. No rampages of outrage. She immediately replies, “ ‘Agreed. Let it be as you say.’ So she sent them away … and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” No question. No argument. Just immediate obedience. Just tie that cord in the window and sit back and wait? Really, Rahab, really. I sigh and squirm as I consider this. Rahab, the prostitute, and her faith, shame me.
I have experienced God in a personal way. I can write pages upon pages of ways He has proven His greatness in my life. Rahab has only heard the stories of others and yet without question, this sinful survivalist wraps that scarlet cord in her window, gathers her family to her, and waits to watch the walls fall down in complete faith that God will not fail her.
Just a scarlet cord. Just a submissive admission of her inability to survive in the face of God and a dependence on His mercy. Oh, that I would imitate the life of that prostitute. That I would hang the scarlet cord that my Lord asks me to hang. That I would watch Him tear down my walls of protection, and shake my foundation, and press on me with His mighty and dangerous Person. Then, in the dust and the rubble and the war cries, as the trumpets blare and the pressure becomes too great, I will see that waving scarlet rope and I will know His presence. My weakness held in the grip of the all-powerful God of the Israelites. And, when the dust settles and shows the wreckage of my city at my feet, I will see I am still standing, still breathing. I will know that my life was held in the Hands of the Almighty and that He spared me in return for my faith. Oh, what a Holy God who demands that His power be known and my weakness be plastered in public for all mankind to see. Tie the scarlet cord around my neck! Remind me daily of my open armed, unplanned faith in a God whose Majesty confounds the most brilliant of men.
“But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute …and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”
In the end, Rahab found her survival and safety in the hands of the God of Israel and she planted her walls there until the day she died. I can only imagine that as she left the destroyed city of Jericho behind, the smell of death and the putrid agony of her memories were set aside. The burden of creating a means for her own survival had been handed off to the only One capable of properly managing it. The only sure means of security. Her Lord. As she stepped forward she looked over her shoulder and up to the window of the home she’d once made her fortress. In the stillness, the war was over and God had willed her to survive. And the breeze blew, and the scarlet cord waved in triumph.
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com.
Web site: www.jaimejowright.com