"And when she (Jochebed) could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink."
Exodus 2: 3
King James Version
"Jochebed – A Mother's Ingenuity"
Ingenuity – The ability to solve difficult problems, often in original and creative ways.
Have I used my personal "ingenuity" to solve a problem in my life?
"Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles."
"When I see the elaborate study and ingenuity displayed by women in the pursuit of trifles, I feel no doubt of their capacity for the most herculean undertakings."
Julia Ward Howe
The above quotation was written by the brave and bold Julia Ward Howe who could have lived a privileged life in New York City but instead chose to fight against slavery and to work for the right of women to vote. A wonderful poet, she was the author of the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Julia's belief that women were capable beings was ingrained by the raw evidence she saw as she watched what many women in the 1800's were able to accomplish with limited resources and limited education.
I was taken with her statement, especially the part which says that women show such "ingenuity, in the pursuit of trifles." My first thought when I read this was a reference back to the great American film, Gone With the Wind. Set during the Civil War, the story reflects one woman's unending quest to save the family plantation, Tara, the only place that meant anything to Scarlett O'Hara. One of the most interesting scenes, which portrays a woman's ingenuity best, is when Scarlett, desperate to raise money to pay taxes, tears the elaborate draperies off the windows at Tara and creates a grand gown which she wore when she tried to convince Rhett Butler to lend her money. Only a woman of great creativity could have seen in her mind's eye, how a pair of brocade and velvet drapes with tassels could be turned into a hat, purse and gown.
Making a dress out of curtains truly is a "trifle." But making an ark out of bulrushes in order to save the life of your child takes not only a mother's ingenuity but the creative genius of a Heavenly Father who has "made us in His image."
As I read the story again, of Moses being saved, this time I focused on the mother who let no impediment deter her and I found myself inspired by the gift of creative genius – ingenuity – God has planted in each of us. The dictionary defines "ingenuity" as the ability to solve difficult problems in often original and creative ways.
This was certainly the case for Jochebed. The problem she faced – hiding her son – only had one outcome if unsuccessful. Her boy would die if found. So we might say that in Jochebed's case, "necessity became the mother of invention." A unique solution was designed by a mother desperate to save her baby's life.
However, I want to offer one other concept for your thought today. The English writer and theologian Sara Maitland in describing our God – the God who has planted His seeds of creative genius within each of us, makes this wonderful statement;
"As it turns out, we do not have a little tame domestic God, thank God, but we do have a huge, wild, dangerous God – dangerous of course only if we think that God ought to be manageable and safe; a God of almost manic creativity, ingenuity, and enthusiasm, a Big-Enough God, who is also a supremely generous and patient God; a God of beauty and solidarity."
I hope you'll absorb this thought for a few minutes. Take in the grandeur to which these words refer. The splendor of God's uninhibited creativity is enough to leave this little earthling, Dorothy, speechless.
Unlimited ability to fill the night sky with innumerable galaxies. And yet, when the "trifles" of my day seek to derail me, my Father, who has the vastness of the heavens as His throne, unfurls in me – His daughter – the creative ingenuity to accomplish the purpose for which I was created.
The story of Jochebed making a special ark for the protection of her child is really the story of a creative Father – our Father who finds no problem in your life or mine overwhelming. A Father who has prepared a way of escape before every challenge we face.
Whether it was God, using His creative power to hang a star in the heaven's or to assist a mother who took pitch and slime and bulrushes and crafted a water-tight boat to hold Israel's deliverer, that same God offers His creative power to you and me. We can grasp His resource and it is never diminished, limited or unavailable.
Jochebed's story of ingenuity should encourage the heart of every woman. For no problem, no dilemma, no crisis will ever be too big for us because the well from which we draw is unending and never runs dry.
"It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God."
how full of wonder and splendor you are!
I see the reflections of your beauty
and hear the sounds of your majesty
wherever I turn.
Even the babbling of babes
and the laughter of children
spell out your name in indefinable syllables.
When I gaze into star-studded skies
and attempt to comprehend the vast distances,
I contemplate in utter amazement
my Creator's concern for me.
I am dumbfounded that you
should care personally about me.
And yet you have made me in your image.
You have called me your child.
You have ordained me as your priest
and chosen me to be your servant.
You have assigned to me
the fantastic responsibility
of carrying on your creative activity.
how full of wonder and splendor you are!"
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus