Read: Joshua 2:1-21, 6:22-25; Hebrews 11:1-2, 31; Matthew 1 When we first meet our sister, Rahab, she is standing at the door of her home and staring two Hebrew men in the face. Word on the street is that these people (nearly two million of them!) mean to take over her city, and they have a powerful and mighty God to back them up. She’s heard the stories.
After Rahab invites these two men into her home, the king of Jericho sends some of his men to her door to demand that she turn over the spies. Suddenly she has a pricey decision to make: continue hiding the two men on her roof, or leverage this opportunity in her favor.
Rahab’s profession as a prostitute likely cost her many meaningful relationships in her life. She may even have lost hope that she would ever be truly valuable to someone. But when the invitation was extended to her to do something holy and righteous for God, a God who she heard was a defender of the oppressed and the marginalized, she immediately said, “Yes.”
God met Rahab exactly where she was, squarely in the midst of her sinful life. He plopped two messengers of grace right on her doorstep and invited her into something she never would have seen coming. In the same moment, she was extended both an invitation to faith in Him and a way to act on her faith.
Rahab’s story isn’t about her profession, as much as we love to dwell on that. And it’s not included in the Old Testament because of the intel she provided to the spies or the strategic plot line her story offers to the narrative. We read her story because of what it reveals about God.
God uses Rahab’s story to show us He doesn’t have favorites. He loves all of His children equally. He sees our hearts over our habits, our hurts over our hang-ups. While we are busy assessing Rahab’s lifestyle and choices, God is carefully noticing the tiny tendrils of faith woven into her heart. God met Rahab in her shame, but He didn’t leave her there.
When God first lifted me out of my patterns of brokenness, it took a long time for me to realize I wasn’t crashing the party, no matter how disgraced or down-and-out I felt. He first showed me I was valuable, necessary, and able, and then began revealing how, through the sacrifice of His son, I was cleansed, forgiven, and cherished—all words I had been longing to hear.
I know I have to be very careful about drawing lines around who God will bring into His family, and Rahab is no exception. God’s divine determination about who’s in and who’s out doesn’t always match our calculations. That is why Rahab’s story distresses us so deeply. Surely she’s not invited! But I think God challenges us on this by saying, “Do you see that gap between Rahab’s hopelessness and her salvation? See how wide it is? Do you know why I spend so much time way down in that gap? Because My loved ones are there.”
I don’t think we can hear this enough: You matter deeply to God. Please read that as many times as you need until something soft and yearning inside of you starts to respond. He loves you. He delights in you. So for your sake, and the sake of others, just open the door.
Lauren Gaines is Assistant to Lead Pastor John Parker.