Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Testament Tuesday: Tamar

Welcome to the first post in our Lineage of Grace book study! For the next 5 weeks we'll be taking a look at the women featured in this Francine Rivers book. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary are the women we'll be studying. The questions listed below are but a few picked from the study sessions after each story. We hope that by answering some of the more personal questions you will be inspired to dig deeper into your own heart and God's love. Here we go!

"Betrayed by the men who controlled her future, [Tamar] fought for her right to believe in a loving God." - Francine Rivers

Tamar married the oldest son of a family who was torn between two faiths. However, Tamar's new husband did not please God so He killed him. Same for the next man she married. When it came time for Tamar to be married to a third man, the youngest in the family, her father-in-law told her to wait. But he soon forgot about her and Tamar had to take things into her own hands. With God's help, she summoned the courage to stand up for what she deserved. Tamar's story can be found in Genesis 37 & 38. 

How do you deal with jealousy? with conflict?
- Unfortunately, I can be a jealous person. Especially in my marriage. I have no problem with the women in my husband's life, I trust them and him. But I find it hard sometimes when his job takes him places that I won't ever be able to go. While this can be a good thing (I don't feel particularly inclined to visit war-torn places), some of the destinations are quite lovely. I'm working hard to remember that he has worked very hard to get where he is and I have worked hard to be where I am.
Now when it comes to conflict, I'm pretty hands-off. I don't handle it well. Until something happens to someone I care for, then the gloves come off. I still don't handle it well, but I do fight for the ones I love.

Where do you turn with life's struggles-to yourself? to family and friends? to comfortable patterns? to God?
- I do try to turn to God...when I remember to. But when I forget that He can handle anything I throw at Him, I try to handle it myself. I take on the burden that He could easily lift from me. It's something I'm working on.

Judah was grieving over the past as well as the present, and he was gripped with fear of the future. What fears grip you?
- I have phobias that may or may not be normal. Snakes, heights, public speaking...but one thing I fear above all else: losing loved ones. I've faced many deaths through my life and it never gets easier. Lately I've been conflicted on this topic. When someone we know who loves the Lord and has given their life to them passes, we should celebrate, not grieve. And maybe even be a little jealous. They now get to experience heaven while we're stuck on Earth. But we still mourn. I'm not saying we shouldn't feel the loss of loved ones, because even Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Maybe we should just try to get to the celebrating a little faster.

How do you deal with fear?
- I'm a planner. I think out the worst possible scenario and what I would do so that if/when it happens, I'm at least somewhat prepared. Whether this is a small fear or a great one, like losing a loved one, I think I handle it better when I've already mentally gone through it.

Do you know the One who gives life in all its fullness?
- Yes siree! I strive to know Him more every day!

Will you accept His invitation?
- I have. Will you? Learn more here.

Up to this point in Tamar's life she had been abused, used, abandoned, and forgotten. Have you ever been treated unfairly? How have you handled broken promises?
- Who hasn't been treated unfairly? I tend to hold grudges. I'm initially a very trusting person and I find it hard to understand why people purposely do the wrong thing. It's hard for me to trust them again.

In what ways do you identify with Tamar?
- Honestly, she is a much stronger woman than I am. I wouldn't've been able to wait all the years she did. Especially after seeing Shelah (Judah's youngest son) and learning about Judah's wife's death. And even if I was patient enough to seduce Judah, I would've immediately thrown it in his face. Either that or I would've just resigned to being a widow the rest of my life.

Have you ever run ahead of God and tried to fix things yourself? If so, what was the outcome?
- Only all the time! It either goes drastically wrong or the problem is only temporarily fixed.

Have you ever been privately confronted about something you did or said that was wrong? If so, how did it make you feel?
- First, guilty. Second, thankful. When I'm confronted publicly, I tend to get defensive and try to blame anything or anyone other than myself. But when I'm approached privately, it's easier to own up to what I've done and apologize.

When Tamar was openly confronted, she presented the truth (as she knew it). When Judah was confronted with the truth, he repented. He had run away from both his family and his faith. God used the consequences of his choices to bring about repentance and restoration. In your experiences of being confronted with something you did wrong, what were the consequences? If you had it to do over again, how might you respond differently?
- I've faced consequences ranging from someone being disappointed in me to almost being kicked out of school. If I could redo some bad decisions, I would think things through more before acting. Maybe my actions wouldn't change, I am human after all, but I might be more prepared for the consequences.

Just as God worked in the lives of Judah and Tamar, He works in our lives today. In what ways is God revealing Himself to you?
Through worship and fellowship with others, love has been on my mind. God's love completely overwhelms me and yet I crave it more and more. I see His love everywhere I am.

As you have worked through these lessons, what changes do you sense you may need to make in your life?
Patience is something I've been working on. Patience with my child, my husband, myself, and God. When I'm more patient with my family, arguments become conversations and fights become open discussions. I need to take the time to listen to others and think about what needs to be said before blurting out the first emotional thing that pops into my head. And God's plan doesn't run by my watch. Having patience will help me be ok with that.

Like Tamar, we all have hopes and dreams for the future. What kinds of things do you hope for?
I dream of a big family. My husband and I hope to have children biologically and by adoption. June already has several "Aunts" and "Uncles" through the Air Force and we can't wait to add more! We're starting to get involved in a church here in Washington and are becoming part of that family. And all too soon our little girl will be making friends at school and we can add them to our list of "children"! Just because we're not all blood relatives doesn't mean we can't be a family!

How do you want to be remembered?
I'm a pretty simple person. I don't need to be known for world-famous talents or a celebrity status. If all people remember of me is that I live a life of love for the Lord, my family, and friends I'll be just fine.

We hope you've learned something from the story of Tamar. She was a true Superwoman with courage beyond what we can imagine. Come back next week when we study Rahab!

Before I go, I'd like to put a prayer request out there. There are many families out there who have suffered a miscarriage and are feeling the loss. Our hearts break for those families and we pray that God will place His healing hand on their hearts and bodies. May He ease their suffering and give them hope for the future.

God Bless,

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