“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
Deuteronomy 30: 19
“A Woman’s Right To Choose”
“No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.”
Agnes de Mille
As a woman, what choices have I made in my life?
How have my choices in the past affected my life now?
“The universal human journey is one of becoming conscious of our power and how to use that power. Becoming conscious of the responsibility inherent in the power of choice represents the core of this journey.”
“What hangs in the balance is nowise in doubt; we know the nowise event and we brave what we know; our clocks are all striking the hour of courage.”
Buried in the pages of Leviticus, we find the story of Shelomith. The fact we know her name is striking indeed, because the Scripture contains so few named women and so many unnamed ones. Not only do we know her name, we are told that her father was Dibri, from the tribe of Dan.
I find this an important piece of information because once a woman married, she usually took on the identity of her husband’s family.
As we read this story in Leviticus, this Israelite woman had a son, whom the Bible says had an Egyptian father. There are several possibilities which could have existed. The Egyptian man could have impregnated an Israelite woman – maybe even his slave in Egypt. Or it may have been that because the man this woman attached herself to was considered to be a heathen and foreigner, her marriage wasn’t recognized. However, since the Israelite woman’s “marital” or “live-in” love isn’t talked about at all in the story, it seems quite likely he may have chosen to stay in Egypt and instead sent his wife and son home to dad and back to the people who were her ancestors.
This would mean that even in Bible times, single moms had the responsibility of rearing a child alone.
How this woman came to have a child, we don’t know, except we need to recognize that at some point in her life, she chose to be intimate with the wrong guy. Someone who had beliefs that were directly opposed to everything the Israelites believed. Or it may be, that in her father’s home, after 400 years of slavery, the God of Abraham had lost His luster. He wasn’t a God to be honored and so this Israelite girl decided it didn’t matter who she hitched her wagon to. The God of Israel didn’t seem to be someone so great. Why not hitch-up with an Egyptian? Maybe then her baby wouldn’t end up being a slave all his life. This may have been how this young woman was thinking. Possibly too, she wanted a little relief, a little happiness. And aren’t you and I just like her, sometimes? Our critical choices as women, are often made when we’re longing the most for happiness and fulfillment. Along comes “Mr. Flash-In-The-Pan,” with his smooth line, winning smile, and promises galore. We are hoping our ship has finally come in. Then one day, we realize we are on-board the Titanic and headed for an iceberg. Alice Caldwell Rice describes the situation nearly all of us as women (and men, too) have found ourselves in: “When one has a famishing thirst for happiness, one is apt to gulp down diversions wherever they are offered. The necessity of draining the dregs of life before the wine is savored does not cultivate a discriminating taste.”
I know in my younger years, I much too often settled for the dregs and all it did was make me lose respect for myself, which left me feeling unworthy of the future my Heavenly Father had in mind for me.
In our story today in Leviticus, an Israelite woman made a choice. She chose to get involved with the wrong man. And while we think a woman’s right to choose has to do with having a baby, I’d like to offer this thought. A woman’s right to choose goes much deeper than just getting pregnant. Our choices as women have to do with those we allow into the circle of our presence – long before we “get pregnant” or “get married.”
When we have only tasted from the dregs of the well of life, we begin to feel that is all we deserve. Finally our boundaries disappear. We have no barriers to the toxic waste around us, and we find our choices are contaminated. What’s worse, when poisonous choices invade our lives, they have, as we will see tomorrow, the ability to permeate the lives of those whom we are to protect and train – our children.
Thankfully, as we find so clearly displayed at a well in the town of Sychar in the New Testament, even when we have made disastrous choices repeatedly, drinking from a cup offered by one who doesn’t honor or respect us, along comes The Man, who holds out a cup with living water that never runs dry. And when He says, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give (her) shall never thirst,” we can count on the fact that our choice to believe “His truth” will give us a “well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4: 3, 14, K.J.V.).
“We are given not only life by God, but also the responsibility of choice. We are responsible for our choices and behaviors whatever the consequences.”
“Long afterwards, she was to remember that moment when her life changed its direction. It was not predestined; she had a choice.”
“Christ our Guide,
stay with us on our pilgrimage through life:
when we falter, encourage us,
when we stumble, steady us,
and when we have fallen, pick us up.
Help us to become, step by step, more truly ourselves,
and remind us that you have traveled this way before us.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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