Randoms

The Prostitute Knew Best

Let me just preface this by saying that this is not my open declaration that I was once a prostitute. These lessons aren’t from me. Just wanted to make sure that everyone understood that before y’all start texting my mom like, “Wow, Ellie, we never knew that Leah was that sinful.” Guys…relax.

A few years back I found myself at Hillsong Church in Cape Town, South Africa. Now, if you haven’t been to Cape Town, let me assure you that it is, in fact, the Lord’s city. I’m not quite sure that I’ve ever seen a place that looked like Cape Town looks. For the avid traveler, it’s jam-packed full of the best stuff in the world: white beaches, mountains, surfers, city life, harbors, forests…you want it, God put it in Cape Town.

While at Hillsong Church, we got to listen to a man talk about lessons from a prostitute, coming out of Joshua 2.

We begin to read a story of some Israelite spies going into Jericho to scope out the city and see if it’s ready to be taken. While there, a few of the spies meet a prostitute named Rahab. She lives in a studio loft (for lack of the Hebrew word) that sits on the city wall. The spies find refuge in her home from the King of Jericho, who is ordering Rahab to turn them in. Rahab defuses the situation by telling the king that the spies have left, and in return for her protection, Rahab asks the spies to have mercy on her and her family when the Israelites return to overthrow the city. They agree, and when the walls of Jericho come tumbling down, Rahab and her family are safe.

This story doesn’t seem to have much significance, but when I reread the story of Rahab for the 1 millionth time, I saw for the first time her in a completely new light. Up until this point in her life, Rahab has heard about the God of the Israelites, but has never had an encounter with him. In verse 8, she expresses her faith in God to the spies, telling them of the stories that she’s heard. I’m sure many people wrote it off as magic, tricks, astrology or good luck, but she, while knowing nothing of God’s ways, puts her faith not only in the fact that he can save the Israelites, but that he can save her, too.

So, what can we learn from a prostitute?

Let Go of the Past

In her city, Rahab was the lowest of the low. She was a prostitute. Everyone knew her, everyone knew what she did, and everyone despised her for it. With her family in mind, day after day Rahab sold her body. Imagine the societal change that she would have had if she delivered the spies to the king. She would have gained favor, been seen as a hero, and undoubtedly been rewarded with money, possibly enough that she would no longer have to be a prostitute.

But in that moment, Rahab wanted to be different. She didn’t want to embrace change at the expense of doing what she knew was wrong. She wanted to change because it was right for her. For her entire life, Rahab had been told what to do and when to do it. Perhaps, for the first time, Rahab was making a life decision on her own.

It’s crazy hard to let go of your past. The feelings that are attached are sometimes so strong and so hurtful, that you can easily find yourself back in the very place emotionally that you were in weeks, months, even years ago. Our past replays in our mind like the way that songs do. They get stuck in our thoughts for days, even weeks at a time. We can’t shake them, no matter what we do. It causes us to live in a deficit mode, constantly reaching backwards instead of forward.

In that moment, Rahab said, “No more!” It didn’t matter that she was a prostitute or that she was seen as the scum of the earth. In that moment, she took control of her life, and refused to be defined by who she was. In that moment, for the first time, she saw who she IS.

Embrace Grace

In my opinion, there’s something about being in a place of loneliness and desolation that gives me an incredibly clear head. In my darkest moments, I have been able to be insanely honest with myself, and have come out of them stronger and more resilient to change my situation. Why am I able to see clearly in these moments? Because I have cleared everything else away, and am able to fully embrace grace.

What is grace?  At this point in time, God was a god of the Israelites. He wasn’t reaching out to other people groups, other countries or other lands. So when Rahab begged for mercy for her and her house, AND received it…well, that’s grace. Judah Smith, pastor and author, puts it best:

“It seemed too good to be true. That’s grace.”

 With the full knowledge that her city was going to be destroyed, with the full knowledge that her lifestyle did not line up to that of an Israelite one, Rahab was given a promise that her life and the life of her family would be spared. She didn’t earn. She certainly didn’t deserve it. But she was given it. And even more importantly than that, she accepted it.

Rahab embraced grace. It would have been easier for her to sit on the side and wallow in self-pity, knowing that she didn’t deserve what she was getting. So many of us do that, and while we are gifted grace, we never embrace it. Rahab embraced the promise- the promise of better, of more, and of life.

Hold Onto Hope

If I were Rahab, and a bunch of men came into my home and made me promises about sparing my life and keeping their word, I’m not sure that I would believe them. They would leave my home, and I would talk myself out of the hope that I had felt just moments before.  I think one of the most difficult things in the world to do is to believe something after it is promised to you.  We have trained ourselves to live in constant preparation for worst case scenario. We have guarded our minds so fiercely that when good things happen, we respond with a smug, “Well, we’ll see,” instead of excitement. Why? We don’t have hope; We don’t have hope that good things will pan out, that God wants good things for us, and most importantly, that we deserve good things.

Rahab could have easily went to the king after the spies left, allowing the city to prepare for the imminent battle with the Israelites. But she didn’t. Why? Like I stated earlier, I believe that in that moment Rahab saw herself, possibly for the first time, how God saw her. Rahab saw herself as worthy of saving, and feeling worthy is one of the most powerful feelings that somebody can have.

Rahab held onto hope. She knew what was promised her, and she believed it. How many of us have been given promises by God, but have walked away from them…not because God doesn’t follow through or because we don’t believe him, but because we don’t believe that WE are worthy of good things, of love, of acceptance, or of forgivingness?

I believe that today, in the lessons that we learned from a prostitute, God is showing us a few things:

Let go of anything that’s keeping you from the best.

Accept forgiveness, help, and grace.

Hold onto the idea that amazing things are happening in your life.

His plans for you are vast and numerous. Now you just need to grab onto them.

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