July 26, 2017 – The Legacies We Leave – 1 Kings 2:1-4

legacyWhen David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying:  “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.  Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’ 1 Kings 2:1-4 (NRSV)

In many ways, King David is one of the best Scriptural examples of what not to do, especially in regard to family life. Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba- the son born after their first son, who had been conceived in adultery, had died. (2 Samuel 11-12)

David’s family life could have been featured on the Jerry Springer show. His domestic drama is a rather sordid tale of polygamy (which unfortunately was culturally acceptable in his time) as well as of adultery, murder, incest, betrayal and tragic death. (2 Samuel 13-14)  There hasn’t been a soap opera written with more tragedy and pathos than can be found in the life of King David.

Nathan the prophet had even warned David that the sword would never depart from his house, and that he would face public shame for the murder of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 12:10-12)

Still, David held on. All through his trials and triumphs and disappointments, his heart stayed open to God in spite of his failings. As it came close to David’s time to die, he couldn’t tell Solomon that he had followed God perfectly all his life, but David could tell him (because he had to learn the hard way) that following God’s way is the best way.

Some of us as parents and grandparents, like David, have a bit of the Springer style drama in our families that we have brought on ourselves through our own mistakes or poor judgment. We might feel hypocritical teaching our children healthy, Scripturally based habits such as regular prayer, worship and Bible study if we didn’t culture those disciplines in our youth.  We might feel hypocritical teaching and helping to enforce healthy Scriptural boundaries, such as saving sex for marriage, or staying married to one spouse for life, if we didn’t honor those boundaries ourselves.

At times all of us are examples of what NOT to do, especially if we have learned the hard way. Others might learn from those examples of what NOT to do much more quickly and thoroughly – and comparatively drama-free – if they have a candid witness to the potential fallout.  Candor and honesty (especially with children or grandchildren) can be difficult for those of us with checkered pasts, but authenticity goes a long way in reinforcing the message.

The good news is that God’s grace is stronger than our failings and shortcomings. Because of grace, every day is a new opportunity to embrace God’s forgiveness and try again. David understood this concept.  Even though we still have to live with some of the consequences of our actions, there is healing, redemption and forgiveness in Christ.  That is a message we should be happy to pass on.

 

May 5, 2017 – Gone Fishing -John 21:3-4

fishing

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize it was Jesus. John 21:3-4 (NIV)

This story sounds like us so much of the time. We have a hard time seeing and experiencing the presence of God all around us, so we just do what feels comfortable or right, or what we always have done.  We live our lives, and do our thing, and we don’t see Jesus even when He is right in front of us.

Sound familiar?

So many times we wonder where Jesus is in those “dark nights of the soul,” those times when we are frustrated or in pain or despair. If only we could see that He is right there in the center of it all, and that He knows our disappointments, our fears, our doubts and our frustrations, but so many times we just don’t see Him.

The disciples had the same problem, and these were guys who hung out with Jesus for years. They ate with Him, walked with Him, lived with Him, but they still couldn’t see Him in plain sight.

So why sometimes do we just give up on the plans God has made for us and decide to go do our own thing?

Do we lose our patience with God’s timing and His way of doing things? Or do we see His way of doing things as just being too unreasonable or too difficult, like the prophet Jonah, who didn’t want to go to Nineveh and tried to run away from God instead? (See Jonah 1-3)   Do we really think that running away from God is even possible?

Thankfully Jesus meets us where we are even if we just give up and “go fishing.” He meets us not to shame us or make us feel guilty, but to encourage us, and to put us back on the path for which He created us.