Rahab didn’t let her past control her future with God.
We all have a past. And not just any past, a past that is presently living and active — shaping the way we think, believe, and act right this very moment. How we remember our life determines not only the way we relate to ourselves and others, but more importantly, how we relate to God.
For example, some believe their backstory is too boring to be useful: relatively average, safe, no “traumatic” memories to speak of. From this vantage point, God looks more like a frail, old grandpa who would rather “bless our heart” than test us toward a life of suffering and sacrifice in His name. Or perhaps your past feels a bit too scandalous and sinful to be relevant in any plan involving holiness. From this angle, God looks more like a leather-wearing, skin-inked, biker bully than an approachable friend who longs to satisfy your deepest desire.
If you feel unqualified to approach God or be used by Him, join the club. The Bible is full of misfits who feel the same way. It is also a book brimming with the unchanging faithfulness of a God who gives meaning and purpose to both boring and scandalous people. In this study we’re going to see the truth of this in action through the story of Rahab, a woman in the Bible who didn’t let her past control her future with God.
Welcome to the first session of Rahab: Don’t Judge Me, God Says I’m Qualified. To get started, give everyone a chance to do the following:
- Say your name, unless everyone in the group knows you. Then, in three or four sentences, describe one of the places where you grew up.
Take a minute on your own to write down your response to this question (you won’t have to share your answer):
- How much do you believe that God can work through you to accomplish His plan for good in the world? A lot? A little? What helps you believe that? What gets in the way?
Watch Session One:
AT A GLANCE: RAHAB
Where in Scripture: Joshua 2
Age-old problem: Being defined by your past and allowing it to determine your future
Rahab’s solution: Take a risk, trust God, make a change
God’s timeless wisdom: Everything that happens in our life exists to make God more fully known to us and others. From horrific wounding at the hands of an abuser to marrying the love of our life. From a monotonous nine-to-five job to beach sand melting between our toes. Nothing exists for its own sake. Everything exists for the sake of Christ!
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15–16 NIV).
Play the video segment for Session 1. It’s about 23 minutes long, and you will be introduced to three speakers. As you watch, use the following outline to record thoughts that stand out to you.
Reflecting on the shoes we’ve worn in our past can remind us of some of the most painful times in our lives.
There are plenty of shoes we never wanted to walk in.
Even if you feel stuck or defined by your old identity, God can re-identify you.
Sometimes you become a part of what your culture says is normal.
We all have religious frames of reference.
To be used on mission, all you have to do is open your heart.
Sometimes you just need a little pressure to know there’s another way.
Pressure points are the catalyst for change.
Somewhere along the way we have created our own version of the truth.
Our truth is designed to help us survive. God’s truth is designed to help us thrive.
Thriving: Colossians 1:9-14
Rahab knows she needs deliverance, and she is desperate.
Leader, read each numbered prompt to the group.
- What stood out to you most from the video?
- What is your honest, gut response to studying Rahab?
- Our “truth” is a product of the experiences and environment in which we were brought up. What was one experience in your upbringing that made a big impression on you?
- As a child we soak in the way people deal with conflict and love, or not. Share an example from your past.
- As we move into adolescence, we decide if all of these core beliefs are true or false, based on the people around us. Share an example from your past.
- In our twenties, we test-drive those beliefs. Share an example from you past.
- In our thirties and forties, we may realize that there could be another way. Share an example from your past.
- Think about your upbringing. Describe one way you learned to give love (such as cooking meals, giving gifts, spending time, working hard) and one way you were taught to guard love (such as expectations, busying yourself, resisting people’s demands while avoiding direct confrontation, blame, isolation).
Select a volunteer to read the following:
God designed us to be shaped by the experiences and environment in which we were brought up. Sadly, we all grow up in a broken world with parents who are broken to a greater or lesser degree. Their challenges affected us profoundly. It would be easy, then, to blame our parents and our society for the difficulties we have. But recognizing where our flaws may have come from doesn’t take the sovereignty away from God, nor does it take the responsibility off of us. God wants us to come to grips with the way our past has affected us because He allowed it and intends to use it. We must choose to release our parents and society and learn over time better ways of seeing the world and relating to people. With God’s help we can transcend our families and our society and actually contribute to making them better.
- Is there an identity, name, pair of shoes, or label from your past that you feel stuck with or proud of? If so, what is it? Why does this identity make you feel stuck or proud? Discuss how you might overcome the label or identity.
- Rahab was desperate for a new way of life. Are there things in your life that you are desperate to change? If so, what are they? Or if you have already made the change, how has your life been affected?
In preparation for the coming week, write one thing you want to gain from your study time: (ex.: hope for my future, a better understanding of who I am . . . ):
Ask for a volunteer to read this prayer aloud over the group:
Father God, You know everything about our pasts. Thank You for using all of our regrets, sin, failures, and inadequacies to remind us how desperate we are for a Savior. Thank You for using the best and worst parts, not in spite of us, but because of us. How grateful we are to be women, standing alongside our sister Rahab, qualified to take an active role in Your eternal plan and purposes. Strengthen us this week as we open up more, and give us confidence to trust Your plan. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Keep This Close
As you go on your way this week, here are some thoughts from the video that you may want to save in your phone or write on a sticky note so you can refer back to them:
- Our truth is designed to help us survive. God’s truth is designed to help us thrive.
- Your past is a part of God’s preparation so you can be a significant part of his plan.
- Even if you feel stuck or defined by your old identity, God has promised to use every part.
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Come share your thoughts on Rahab on our blog. We want to hear from you!