I get yelled at for directing all of my writings to boys, but I write to girls as well. Here is a meditation I wrote for one of Mrs. Michael’s Sewing lessons for CLA girls. Enjoy, little ladies. -Mr. Michael
There you are. Sitting in your father’s house, on an ordinary day in your ordinary life. What are you doing today? Washing dishes. Folding laundry. Sweeping the floor. Helping with babies. Studying.
Shouldn’t a Christian girl be doing something more exciting? Look at the Virgin Mary–she is adored by millions of people around the world. Look at St. Joan of Arc–she led the French army to victory over England. Look at St. Therese of Liseaux–she is a doctor of the Church! These women are given to us as examples and models, yet there you are–doing everyday chores at home.
Well, what you see when you look at these famous women is the end of their lives. What you don’t see is the years before their rise to fame and glory in the world–the years they spent as children and young ladies. What you’ll learn if you look back into their history is that true greatness doesn’t come to those who seek to make themselves great. The desire to make oneself famous is vanity. What you’ll learn is what both St. James and St. Peter taught in the New Testament. They said the same thing–it seems they agreed on this point:
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
What you see in the lives of history’s famous Christian women is what happened after the Lord exalted them and set them up as lights for all the world to see. What you don’t see are the years of their humility, how they humbled themselves before God in secret. Let’s study an example of one such woman: Rebekah in the Old Testament.
Rebekah’s father was Bethuel. Bethuel was the nephew of Abraham, who was, as you know, very famous in the ancient world–kings, pharaohs and priests honored him with gifts and respect though he was a wandering man. Bethuel, however, wasn’t Abraham and doesn’t appear to have been famous at all.
We can imagine that Bethuel heard many stories of his famous uncle in the land of Canaan–being spoken to by God, having his name changed by God, being visited by angels who foretold the birth of his son Isaac, being promised great power and glory, rescuing his family members after they were captured by an army, being enriched by kings and being made great in the land after nearly sacrificing his son Isaac–what a life! Rebekah surely knew about Abraham and his wife Sarah–who bore Abraham a son when she was 99 years old and died at age 127! They were an amazing family–but her father’s house? Nothing special.
Rebekah was a very beautiful young lady–not beautiful as many modern men think of beauty, but truly beautiful–in mind, in heart as well as appearance. She lived in her father’s house, under his authority, and she worked every day, doing her ordinary daily chores. She was a good girl.
One of Rebekah’s daily jobs was to fetch water for her family. She lived in ancient tiimes, and to get water she needed to go out to a well to fill a large jug and then bring it back to the house. That was hard work and it needed to be done as often as water was needed. You can imagine that when so much work was needed to get water, it was used very carefully and no one was allowed to sit around drinking glasses full of water as we do today. Water was very precious to the people–who even fought wars over their wells!
One day, Rebekah went out to fetch water as usual. She lowered her jug into the well and drew it back up, full. She raised the jug up to her shoulder and began to head back to the house when a strange man came to the well. He was a servant, no great man, and she did not know him. He had travelled from another place and asked her, “Please give me a sip from your jug.”
Now, we might be annoyed by such a man. Water isn’t free, after all. Beside, he’s a man, why can’t he get his own water? What kind of man asks a woman for help?! Rebekah, however, had no such thoughts. She did her work cheerfully, being a good girl who was not averse to work and very generous. She also knew that God rewards those who are kind to strangers and show generous hospitality.
Rebekah responded kindly. She lowered the jug and gave the man not a sip, but all that he desired. As he drank she looked to his camels and said to him, “I will draw water for your camels, too, until they have drunk their fill.” She poured the rest of her jug into the animals’ watering trough and ran back to the well for more.
After she had finished watering the man’s camels, the man came to her, filled with joy. He opened the bag he was carrying and took from it a beautiful gold ring and two gold bracelets and put them on her. She was confused by the gifts, and the man asked, “Whose daughter are you? Is there any room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She told the man whose daughter she was and that there was room for him and his camels.
Then an even stranger thing happened. The man bowed himself down to the ground and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not let his constant kindness toward my master fail. As for myself also, the LORD has led me straight to the house of my master’s brother.”
Rebekah was stunned. This strange man happened to be one of the servants of her famous uncle Abraham! She ran as fast as she could to the house to tell her mother what had happened. Her family welcomed the man with great love and her brother, Laban, invited the man to eat with them, but he refused. “I will not eat until I have told my story,” he said.
The servant then shared a most incredible story with the family. He had been sent by his master Abraham, the greatest man of the age, to find a wife for his son Isaac–the son who would inherit all of Abraham’s wealth and upon whom the blessing of God rested. Abraham insisted that he find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s family and sent him off. The servant, eager to please his master, prayed for God’s help in making a successful mission and said to God, “While I stand here at the spring and the daughters of the townsmen are coming out to draw water, if I say to a girl, ‘Please lower your jug, that I may drink,’ and she answers, ‘Take a drink, and let me give water to your camels, too,’ let her be the one whom you have decided upon for your servant Isaac.”
Those were, of course, Rebekah’s exact words!
The man then asked Rebekah’s family for their answer: May he bring Rebekah to be the wife of Isaac?
Rebekah’s family agreed and, after worshipping God and giving Him thanks, the man gave to the family great gifts of silver and gold from Abraham. He even had special gifts for her mother and brother.
That night, Rebekah couldn’t possibly sleep! What had just happened? How did this all happen? What began as an ordinary trip to the well ended with her entire life changed. She would be the wife of Isaac! She would be the daughter of Abraham! She would be famous forever! How could this possibly be happening? She was merely doing her chores!
No, she was not merely doing chores. She was doing her chores cheerfully and generously. What may have been an ordinary chore for most young women, she turned into an act of humility and kindness that pleased God. It was God who singled her out among all the young ladies of the world and arranged that special day. She had humbled herself, and God exalted her.
Today, Rebekah is among the most famous women in world history. She is the mother of Jacob and Esau. When she died, she was buried with Abraham, Sarah and Isaac. Her life was recorded by the Holy Spirit through the prophet Moses for all people to study for all time, to teach us that it is by faithfulness in ordinary work that God chooses the women whom He will lift up and make famous. The song the Virgin Mary sang on her great day could have been sung by Rebekah just as truly:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.”
William C. Michael, Director
Classical Liberal Arts Academy