the influence of the five

reflectionTamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary – the five.

These five women included in the long list of men in Jesus’ lineage are a source of curiosity and wonder. Curiosity, because somehow their lives were worth mentioning. Wonder, because their stories are far from sanitized. Francine Rivers named her collective interpretation of their stories so well when she titled it A Lineage of Grace. For women who live under coverings of shame, their stories are freeing.

One took justice (unconventionally) into her own hands, one was a sex worker, one left her family and turned her back on her religion, one married her husband’s murderer, one mysteriously conceived, two were foreigners, three got pregnant outside of marriage, three were married more than once … and a whole load of other things!

I love that Francine Rivers doesn’t make their stories sound pretty. They are raw. They aren’t the things of pink and frilly dresses with rainbows and ponies. Their stories challenge women who have hidden under calluses of preservation to peal back the layers, giving God permission to really see them. It is in that moment that God lets his love fall and buys back every part of their story and makes them his. There is a sense of awe and a bit of fear.

The stories speak for themselves – God doesn’t care where you came from, what you look like, what trauma you have faced or what choices you have made. At the same time, he does care. He cares a lot! Because his grace doesn’t erase everything that led to this exact moment. His grace infuses our past, present and future with purpose.

For women that I have the incredible honour of walking beside, I deliver the stories of the five as gifts of hope and courage for greater things. One response was:

“If God can do so much through them, what does he expect me to be able to do?”

That is the influence of the five.

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