David knew family dysfunction. One son’s sinful desires leads to rape, leads to murder, leads to estrangement–a lot of broken pieces, shattered and scattered and can’t be put back together the same way again. When the woman from Tekoa speaks to David about a situation, these beautiful words stand out to me.
13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son.14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:13-14, NLT.
The imagery and depth are beautiful to me, but my God is so much more–the one who devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.
Am I like Absalom, Lord, who stews in anger at being held at arm’s length? When David agrees to his return but refuses to reconcile (acknowledge him or even look upon Absalom), I know this rejection–to live a life near someone and feel totally invisible. Unworthy. Unaccepted.
Am I like David, Lord, with limitations and restrictions? Is it possible David agreed to Absalom’s return only because the woman had him pegged? Was his heart not in it? Certainly one can do the right thing for the sake of doing right, but lack love (sometimes known as civility). I’ve done that too.
Jesus, I see you at the table, serving bread and wine to Judas. I see you on the shore, eye to eye with Peter asking, “Do you love me?” You were the plan for bringing us back–God who devises ways to bring those back who’ve been separated from him by sin. You didn’t forgive us for your sake, but for ours. Thank you for loving me and showing me how to love, for forgiving me and showing me how to forgive. Thank you for valuing my life so much that you would not sweep it away, but look for ways to bring me back to you. Your love–unconditional and eternal–the true example of a father’s love for a child. I’m grateful.
Writers block, Distractions? NO, I do NOT have any of those. My brain is constantly spinning and life is going on around me, people are moving by at fast paces, children are laughing in the background, families are arguing in the stores, men are begging for food on sidewalks, I am on the side of the road taking photos of a car bumper lying in the middle of the highway all while cars are zooming by, I am waking up late/missing the bus for the kids thus finding myself smack dab in the hallway of the school still in my pajamas searching for my child’s folder that his brother had taken by accident; and all the while..LIFE GOES ON…I whirl right by as soon as those moments are past. I HAVE to get to my appointment and then to the store to get the stuff to make the things so family can eat so they will go to bed and then I can have quiet and rest. This week has been a whirlwind of events ranging from : 1)having yet ANOTHER birthday , 2) receiving a very hard to swallow pill of a phone call regarding my child, 3) having someone from my past (whom I thought had been left there) confront me trying to cause temptation to resurface within me, 4) hearing that another friend whom had fallen deep into sin was now wanting to make changes in their life and was asking for my family’s insights and prayers. 5)having to explain to someone the reasons behind a firm decision I had made knowing it was none of their business but if I did not share it they would not stop asking me “why, why, why?” THE NOISE, THE VIVID SCENES carved deep into my heart and brain. Where do I find solitude and peace???
I was invited two days ago to attend a celebrate recovery event to listen and support a friend whom had been asked to share her testimony of God’s working in her life. I found myself still there after she was done speaking and decided to go into one of the smaller groups because another friend was there so I figured I could support her because why else would I go in? I DO NOT have ANY issues. I’m involved in church, I write for a Christian Bible blog, I sing on a worship team, I have a lot of good friends and am “on the right track.” My past has some ups and down, sure, but that is over and done with now. As I sat listening to others share, something happened within me that for the first time in 33, YES COUNT THEM, 33 years, God completely knocked me over the head, brought me to my knees in a moment of complete vulnerability and I confronted some very deep things that had been thrown to the wayside and overlooked because of my deep rooted PRIDE that I had forgotten about! I had chosen to not admit that I was struggling in these areas, but somehow believed I could mask it for so long and it would magically not weigh me down. There were no alter calls or any pressure to share by any of the others who were there, but I felt God’s pricking on my heart. As I obeyed, I released guilt, sorrow, pain, pride, envy, anger, stressors, thoughts of “what will others think of a,b, or c”. There I sat in one breath feeling completely renewed and suddenly in my human state was fearing that the direct acknowledgement of these issues would surely reveal that I was a hypocrite in some manner of speaking and could never be used by God again.
I do not have an astounding across the board theme and story depiction for these four chapters I am writing about today, but there is ONE thought and 3 verses that stood out to me!
Psalms 79:8-9 “Oh, do not hold us guilty for our former sins! Let your tender-hearted mercies quickly meet our needs. For we are brought low to the dust. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of your name. Oh, save us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.” 2 Samuel 24:25 “David built an altar there to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer, and the plague was stopped.”
My “plague” that has burdened me for so many years and eaten away at my inner being HAS BEEN STOPPED. God can and will continue to use me just as he used David amidst his wrongs and JESUS is the answer to “Where I find my solitude and peace”. No more whirlwinds and scurrying by missing out on the heart of the matter just to ensure that the surface of it is “completed”.
Precious Father, I am unworthy of your mercy and grace, yet here I sit being surrounded by it and your never-ending love. You have taught me that eloquence and “perfectionism” is not a requirement to be used for your glory. You simply desire me, in my brokenness. For that I am eternally grateful. Use me, lead me, guide me and slow me down so that I do not find myself having to scrape off a mask again just to see what I am missing around me. Amen.
Although I’ve known of this song for years, it speaks direct louder volumes to me today!
I see death in every chapter. Death in Exodus to those without the mark of blood upon their doorway. Death to self in Luke for those who would be a disciple of Christ. Death in Job of everything he knew, his words a reminiscent and sorrowful, “I thought, surely …” And death itself in 1 Corinthians 15.
But there is also life: life for God’s chosen; life at the feast for the poor, crippled, blind and lame; new life beyond what we know now; and resurrection through Christ.
42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT.
I think hard on the cost of discipleship, of the things I hold onto, even to the excuses I might give to decline God’s call: am I so busy that I do not attend the banquet he has prepared? This feast woven through chapters: of passover, the parable of the banquet–do I hold onto the comfortable and the dear like Job (even to things past?), or do I reach out and forward to earth and soil–a yes to transformation?
God speaks into my life and says, “Go!” and what is my reply? Am I making excuses? Am I waiting for someone else to do it? Has the salt lost its flavor? Lord, I want to make the days count–to be marked by you and your grace. Help me to work enthusiastically for you.
Paul says: But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT.
Lord, I don’t want my life to be marked by complacency. I don’t want to look back and see your invitation buried underneath a list of excuse. Help me to align my thoughts and my days to your will. (I know you will! I know you are!)
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT.
When Titus 3 ends grace be with you all, I’m going to grab hold of it. Dear, dear grace.
Life feels fractured in a before and after of sorts. Life one way, then another. Before kids, after kids. Before the move, after the move. Before Jesus, after Jesus.
I see it in the scriptures too, this fracturing.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3 (NIV)
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
And even in the afters, I remember all the befores. My soul acutely aware its leaning towards sin, made aware daily of the fracture and brokenness–life in transformation, life in need of a Savior and His grace.
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