Life has been interesting for the past several months. And I just have not been able to write. Several times I have been inspired but couldn’t get myself to face the keys. I have concentrated on the difficulties and ran the risk of missing so many blessings, not least of which is the arrival of my twin granddaughters, Anna and Rebecca.
So, today I was thinking about the children of Israel. Well, ok. I was thinking about Paul and reading in Philippians. Paul is in prison and makes the statement, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
I contrast this with the Israelites who have just been delivered from the hand of Egypt. They are finally free and they respond with complaining and demands. I get the one about water a little bit. I mean they’re in a desert. But demanding food, complaining about starving, hold on a second.
This is an agrarian society. They raised animals and had throughout the history of the nation. They had stripped the Egyptians of their wealth and taken their flocks with them. But all they could see was what they didn’t have. They wanted their cake and eat it too.
I can hear their hearts. “What if I get to where we’re going and have nothing left? What if something happens, gotta’ prepare for the worst? I don’t have near as much as they do, so I’ve got to save all I can.”
Sounds like insurance sales.
I have to hoard. I have to protect. I have to prepare for contingencies.
Fear, unbelief, selfishness. A Jedi craves not these things.
I mean a Christian craves not these things.
We serve a lavish God. We serve a God that blesses greatly. He loves us so much that he bankrupted heaven to redeem us.
Paul says in Romans 8 that, “if God is for us, who can stand against us?” And the greatest prize is something no one can take away. “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”
I have been so ungrateful, so bitter and fearful.
But, God is good! Oh so good! Help me see it Lord.
How many know that when a kid asks you this question…
And you’re not…
And you’re a guy…
It may be time to start eating less and exercising more?
Now she was just a little girl. She had seen me leading worship for a while and I think was actually trying to be nice. That doesn’t make it better. It really makes it worse.
When I was a kid, I was always the smallest. I couldn’t get bigger no matter how much I ate. I started lifting weights and running and could not gain any muscle, any bulk to save my life. I graduated high school weighing 130 pounds and looking like a concentration camp victim. By the time I went into the army I had grown a couple of inches taller and now weighed a whopping 140 pounds. I ate like crazy but still could not gain any significant weight, still was smaller built, wiry and tough but still one of the smallest guys in my unit.
Then I got married.
Weight gain is not the issue anymore. Now I’m pregnant.
Life is so full of twists, turns, things that we don’t see coming, things that sometimes don’t make any sense. We can try and try to change things, change who we are and end up disappointed, angry, bitter, depressed.
Or we can laugh.
And yes, I mean laugh when we lose our job. We can laugh at injuries and sickness. We can find the humor in devastation. See the amazing miracles that make any of us survive. We can even laugh in the midst of divorce, abandonment, great sorrow.
It isn’t an Effie Trinket style, “smile and the world smiles with you” attitude. It is a choosing to see the blessing, the gift, the silliness, the ridiculousness that is life.
When David was young, and not king yet, he surrounded himself with some people who are described in the bible as distressed, in debt or discontented. One of these was a guy by the name of Joab, the son of Zeruiah. Truly we have a case study in friendships, relationships, in this man.
Why did David let him be in charge of the army? Why did David not ever deal with this murderer until the end of his life? Why do we look over gross character flaws in others to salve the consequences of our own sin?
Let’s look at a list:
Joab murdered Abner, the commander of Israel’s army. He did it, supposedly, to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of Abner. It should be noted that Joab’s brother was trying to kill Abner and Abner was just defending himself but at least we can understand this one. Joab assisted in the murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. David wanted to cover his indiscretion with this woman and Joab complies. The one person in the kingdom who could have stood up to the king and done what is right. Joab murdered David’s son, Absalom, against the express wishes of his king. David wanted to grant mercy to his rebellious son, evidence of a weak and bewildered heart. Joab wanted him dead, multiple stab wounds from the spears of many but ordered and initiated by Joab. I kind of get this one too, Absalom was bad news. And finally, Joab murders the innocent Amasa, expressing friendship through a greeting kiss and then stabbing him in the abdomen so that his intestines spill out. He further shows his cruelty by leaving Amasa to die a slow painful death, “wallowing in his blood,” the bible says. And still David did nothing.
Then on his death bed, David finally wants to deal with things. “Don’t let his gray head go down in peace.” And Joab, himself, is then murdered in the temple. Tragedy, sorrow, buried hatred.
This is not the intent of friends, partners in ministry, fellow soldiers in the Kingdom. And yet, if we look at those we work with, how many fall into this category. The ones we gossip with, the ones we share secret bitterness, hidden sin. All the while, we hate them and they hate us.
You can’t always choose who is on staff with you. We are a part of a body and the parts are chosen by the Master Designer. We get to choose how well we function, what input we will have into the body. Whether we will draw from the resources of the cells around us, or contribute our resources.
A cancerous cell needs to be removed. A heart of bitterness should be dealt with. Hatred, sin, selfishness are tools that satan would use to divide us, to thwart what God wants to do. Things that cause disunity, anything that works to tear us apart, should be eradicated.
And let love, real, honest, heartbreaking, heart-healing love lead us as we work together.