Once upon a time much, much different than ours, there lived a beautiful young woman.
Her home was nestled in the hills of a land filled with scented cedar forests, rolling meadows, and dancing streams. Cave-like caverns had been carved into rock outcroppings where artisan wells offered cool respite on hot summer afternoons.
Every day Rebekah gathered at the well with other women of the region to fill jars full of refreshing water. These friends laughed and splashed and dreamed out loud of the love and adventure they hoped would come their way.
And every day Rebekah left those fleeting magical moments just a little more lonely.
What is wrong with me? She wondered.
Why do my insides ache with need?
Why can’t I be content like the other girls?
They seem so satisfied with all the same dreams— to catch the eye of one of the boys we have always known, to marry and bear his babies and stay right here.
To stay the same, always the same.
Why can’t I want that too?
Why do my dreams leave me bereft of hope?
Often she would cry in the lap of the nurse who had cared for her since infancy. An old woman now, she was full of that fiercely loyal love that pulses through the veins of a lifetime caretaker. And she was the only one who understood.
One sweltering evening as the scorching desert sun finally inched its way behind the sacred mountains, Rebekah hurried to the well to fill the earthen jars with fresh water. She loved this time of day, a chance to leave the stifling tents, to splash refreshing liquid over her dusty face, to get away from the monotony of reality.
As Rebekah emerged from the hallowed out cave entry to the well, her water jars sloshing, feet slipping in the red mud, she spotted a strange man waiting. He looked old, wizened, and very, very hot.
Please, he said in a sand choked voice, will you give me a drink?
Certainly, sir, and she lowered her jug for him to drink.
Sympathizing with his obvious exhaustion, Rebekah offered to fetch water for his camels as well. Their plaintive moans making their need obvious.
Down she ran to the bubbling water, then up again with the heavy jar. The camels drank deeply, forcing Rebekah back again and again for more of the desert treasure. When the camels were finally satiated, the servant silently held out a gift.
In his hand, lay a glittering nose ring and two intricately carved gold bracelets. Their beauty took her breath away.
For me? But, but, why?
All the man would tell her was that he came from far away and needed a place to rest for the night. Hurrying to her brother’s house, Rebekah showed him the treasures and recounted the story of the strange traveler.
Laban saw the opportunity for what it was— a chance to earn some much needed gold. He welcomed the man in, eager to know his business.
To Rebekah’s utter surprise, the strange servant told a mystical story of an enormously wealthy father from far away who had sent his servant to find a worthy wife for his son and heir. The servant seemed certain that Rebekah met all criteria his master had requested.
Would she pack her things and mount his camels and come away with him?
A home of her own to care for, a man of her own to love, a life away from the dreariness of her daily life— she practically ran for the camel train.
Was this it? A fleeting chance to embrace adventure? To break away from the everyday? Dare she link her life to a man she’d never met? A man different than all the boys who’d filled her charmed childhood?
Everything in Rebekah’s soul cried yes!
In a flurry of planning and packing, Rebekah, with her much loved nurse beside her, faced her future with all the courage of a beautiful woman awaiting her prince.
On the dusty camel ride to her unknown home, Rebekah had plenty of time to regret her impulsivity. Yet the sheer newness of her ever-changing surroundings kept her looking forward, searching for the future she’d only dreamed of.
What little she knew about this man who would be her husband intrigued her. He was an only child, coddled by both his mother and his father. With a rich heritage of faith and wealth beyond her wildest imaginings, Isaac was certainly the most eligible bachelor she’d ever heard of.
This was a fantasy way beyond what she had dreamed. A love story so delicious it read like a fairy tale. She was on her way to meet her Prince Charming and to live happily ever after.
By the time the caravan’s journey was drawing near to her new husband’s home, Rebekah could barely sit upright in the saddle. Every bone ached, her hair felt like a ratted mess of dust and sweat. Covered head to toe, Rebekah felt more like an ancient mummy than the beautiful bride of a rich prince.
Her frequent groanings and persistent complaints finally induced the servant to stop short of their goal. Their camp that night edged the graveled banks of a shallow river. With her nurse providing cover, Rebekah slipped into the cool water with a sigh of relief. Luxurating in the moon lit moment of privacy, she allowed herself just a moment to imagine what lay ahead.
Would her husband approve of the servant’s choice? Would he be kind? Gentle?
Looking at the whiteness of her skin she wondered what he would think of her? Would her body please him? Would he want her? No man had ever glimpsed so much as a hint of the form of her womanhood, encased in great swathes of cloth as she always was.
What would it be like to unveil herself to this stranger?
Thinking about the story the servant had told her of Isaac’s deep grieving for his mother who had so recently died, Rebekah’s sympathetic nature longed to love the pain away— to ease the ache by wrapping him in her arms and drawing him close.
The next day brought hope on the horizon. Her new family’s fields lay everywhere she looked. Lush and growing, straight rows pushed out of the tilled earth, bursting with promise. Here was a heritage of hard work, evidence of men who went after their own dreams. Rebekah’s respect for her soon-to-be-husband grew with each step of her weary camel.
Who was that in the distance? Why was her heart pounding so? Could it be him?
Quickly, she slid off the side of the lumbering giant, straightening her garment. Rummaging through her bag, she hurriedly threw off the yards of dusty linen, replacing her covering with a delicately woven veil. Her wedding veil.
She would walk on her own two feet to meet her prince. No hiding for her! She would face this man who held her future in his hands. Mustering all the grace she could manage, Rebekah met Isaac as he came across the field in the waning light.
What she saw nearly took her breath away. Isaac was nothing like the boys who had her filled her childhood with laughter and annoyance. Before her stood a man with the callused hands and broad shoulders of one whose life was spent working.
But what caught her heart were those eyes that barely looked her way. Sad eyes, brimming with deep grief. Every part of her being longed to reach out and soothe that sadness away.
But first the servant must tell his story. Every agonizing detail. When would he ever stop? Isaac kept glancing her way. Catching her staring at him. The slightest smile. Was that a dimple?
On and on the servant droned until Rebekah thought she’d burst. When Isaac cleared his throat, sitting up straight as if to speak, the servant fell silent. Ah! The ceremony. Of course.
Hurriedly, as if to get it over with as quickly as possible, the servant recited the words that would bind Isaac and Rebekah together for the rest of their lives. The timbre of his voice intrigued her as he recited the ancient promises.
Hidden behind her veil, Rebekah could only wish for a chance to know the kind of love she dreamed of. What would he think of her? Could he be as full of fear and wonder and hope as she?
Leading her to his tent, his hand barely brushing her back, Rebekah’s knees nearly gave way. So soon! Before she could fall, Isaac reached for her, holding her to himself. He stopped.
Rebekah, are you afraid?
Yes, yes— no! No, of course not.
Isaac’s whole being stilled. Gently, firmly, he turned her towards another tent, one set aside from the cluster of the camp.
Let’s go in here instead. This was my mother’s tent, you’ll feel safe here.
Brushing aside the heavily draped opening, Isaac ushered his bride into a place of wonder and beauty. Her breath caught as she unwrapped the lacy fabric that hid her face— a palace in the middle of this manly camp! Rich tapestries lined the walls, piles of soft furs beckoned. Rebekah’s soul responded to the invitation of warmth and welcome.
Turning to Isaac, Rebekah knew without words that his giving of this gift was as unexpected to her husband as it was to her. An offering of tenderness, of protection, of understanding... of love.
Now it was her turn to give. To offer him her beauty. To bring her whole self to her husband, without borders or boundaries or inhibition or fear.
This man who grieved— yet gave that grief to her in a moment of unselfish intimacy. She would give herself fully to him. She would ease his pain. She would invite him into the depths of herself with joy and abandon.
And so Isaac loved Rebekah there. And Rebekah brought him the comfort only she could offer. A comfort that healed the brokenness of his hurting and brought hope again.
From my heart,
Girls, I hope you enjoyed my imaginings. And I hope you will read the real story for yourselves— especially that last benediction, verse 67. Because tucked into that last phrase lies a secret every woman should know.
Do you see it?
Have you grasped the immeasurable power of a woman to be a beautiful hiding place for her husband? A refuge and relief from all the hurts and pressures and fears and worries that dog their steps?
Have you understood, at last, the deepest need of your man? To be embraced and loved in the way only you can love him?
Will you be that safe place for the man God gave you?
More on this next week… and please, your vulnerable words of comment are compelling me to dive deeper into expressing the words of what we all want— the way to a richer and fuller intimacy and joy.
From my heart,