And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself.
Love at first sight is a strange idea that seems to be rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of both love and sight. However, there are myriad of stories of people who knew from the first moment they laid eyes on another person that matrimony was going to be the result. In “Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare presses these words through Romeo’s lips when he first sees Juliet:
“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”
Rebekah had come in from a long journey in Genesis 24. Not just a long journey, but a long journey with a potentially sketchy payoff. She had entered into an arranged marriage from many miles away, and she was about to see what she had been signed up for. Abraham, her father in law, had left his homeland to go to a place that he knew nothing about, that seems like a pretty big deal to us. But truthfully, most land looks and works roughly the same. Rebekah on the other hand was going to be waking up next to her unknown destination, which to me seems like a lot more faith. Because the fact is, rich only goes so far. At some point there’s got to be some spark.
But in this scene of arrival, what we see is beautiful. The first thing Rebekah sees, the very first impression of Isaac that she ever has is one of a man praying in a field. There are a lot of things that we can make up for, call for a mulligan and do over, but the first impression is pretty much set. Rebekah’s first impression was of a man of prayer and thought. A man whose evenings were spent with his Creator, in His creation, gaining perspective and wisdom. And it literally stopped the procession in its tracks.
No longer was Rebekah just going to be joined to a relative in a financially sound arrangement, now she was going to be someone’s wife. She puts on her veil out of respect and shifts the entire scene from a legal transaction to a romantic interlude. All of this because Isaac was a man of prayer.
How many of our marriages would be powerfully strengthened or even beautifully salvaged if wives were to start walking in on their husbands on their knees seeking the face of God? How many husbands would gain a confidence in their wive’s love for them if they were greeted with the image of a woman communing with the Creator? How much respect and romance and restoration could be initiated, or re-initiated, if we were to dedicate ourselves to finding a place to pray everyday?
Love at first sight may or may not really happen, but there is a powerful, intangible quality to a first impression. May we all be challenged to live everyday as if we are making a first impression on our spouse and family.