I’m a Baby Boomer. I raised three Millennials. Not one person in our house is a Gen Xer, although my husband and my son-in-law both missed it by merely a year on either side.
We do not know what it’s like to be the overlooked middle child.
Both of our generations have been marketed to, catered to, had all our whims analyzed and fulfilled, as a giant generation would. Other than the job market after college for both, we’ve had it pretty good.
Poor Gen X
Gen X, on the other hand, gets ignored. I guess that can be OK. As the youngest child of seven, I found getting ignored pretty useful when I wished to fly under the radar. Still do.
The generation between let’s-begin-God’s-people-patriarch Abraham and had-way-too-many-kids-and-wives Jacob feels a lot like the Gen X of Genesis.
Isaac and Rebekah don’t get much press.
You’ll find the story in Genesis 24. Abraham wants his son to marry in his family and to a woman who worships his God, not one nearby. So his servant saddles up the camels and travels 500 miles to find Isaac a wife.
Enter Rebekah. TL;DR version: he meets her and her family, tells them she’s the one to marry Isaac, they all agree it seems right, and then he tosses a curveball—they all must decide this NOW because he’s leaving tomorrow.
Her mother objects. What mother wouldn’t? She knows she will never see her child again. How can she say a forever good-bye with less than 24-hours notice? Then they do something remarkable for the time—they ask Rebekah.
“We’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”
Clearly, this is an adventurous, curious, faith-filled, daring young woman who has a streak of independence. Maybe they knew they would have to ask her or she wouldn’t have it. Maybe she’s been waiting for a chance like this. The text seems to indicate that perhaps she has stayed single for longer than usual, and since she’s beautiful and her family has money, this was surely her choice.
I already like Rebekah.
She gives up so much—her entire family—to travel a great distance to a strange place and a strange man. Is Isaac old? Ugly? Missing teeth and oozing something? Does he already have four wives? Does he (shudder) write “your” when he means “you’re”? She has no clue. The servant’s kind nature and honest, earnest appearance are all she has to go on.
Yet without hesitation, she answers. God is in it. Yes, I will go.
Short story—she goes. They marry. They love til death do them part. They have two sons, who create their whole ‘nother drama. But for the most part, Rebekah, after her giant leap unto the unknown (yes, you may sing a Frozen song here), lives a quiet, ordinary, unremarkable life.
- She isn’t sold into slavery in Egypt.
- She doesn’t bear a child at 90.
- She doesn’t mother the entire nation of Israel.
- She doesn’t build an ark.
- She doesn’t lead an army or slay a giant or save her nation from a despot king and his henchman.
She never even goes far from home (again).
She raises two kids and teaches one to cook.
They are the original Gen X.
Wasn’t this all anti-climatic?
Wasn’t Rebekah disappointed?
Did the giant leap fall flat?
Where was the grand adventure?
I think Rebekah would say—it was in obedience.
The leap of faith never promised great fame. It didn’t assure her sword fights and dizzying escapades. She wasn’t asked to do something amazing. She was asked to obey. So she did.
The adventure was not having a clue what was ahead and saying “yes” anyway. That takes more guts than a sword fight any day.
One of my favorite fictional characters is Eowyn, the maiden of Rohan who is certain she was born for adventure and renown (and she was) but who desperately fears she will never be allowed to reach her destiny because she is a woman. Women don’t gain valor. (Well, she has a point.)
Eowyn learns, by the end, what the hobbits always knew—it is no bad thing to celebrate an ordinary life. Sometimes, the most ordinary of people do the most extraordinary things—even if they’re living their normal lives.
Rebekah seems to know this. She faithfully lives out her days, knowing her obedience brought her exactly where she was meant to be.
I could learn a few things from Rebekah.
- Maybe the life we’re living is our adventure.
- Maybe where we are right now is our calling.
- Maybe obedience is the greatest thing no matter where it leads us.
- Maybe we need to find gratitude and joy in ordinary life.
- Maybe it’s the next generation who will matter more than I, and that seemed OK to Rebekah.
Ordinary is its own definition—normal. Most of us are by definition.
Ordinary lives are the backbone of most of the world. The ark-builders and giant-slayers wouldn’t survive without the ordinary ones.
And here’s what I want to remember from Rebekah—
God celebrates ordinary lives of extraordinary obedience.
Seems right. Average people are what he made the most of. He must truly delight in it.
Learning from Cain we talked about competition and how unholy and unhelpful it can get. If we take a page from Rebekah, we see something else. Competing makes zero sense when God delights in our obedience, period. There’s no competition to obey. In fact, I’d say the field is pretty open. So a heart and mind concentrating on obeying hasn’t much space to look around at how others are doing and ramp up the resume.
I know. I’m lousy at this, too.
Some folks do make it a reason to sit out their life and allow their fear of failure to keep them out of their calling. That’s not what I’m suggesting. Radical obedience, though, will always lead us toward our calling. It simply might not be what we expected.
Rebekah is OK with that. Are we?