Carte Blanche Companions

Carte Blanche Companions (CaD 2 Sam 19) Wayfarer

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”
2 Samuel 19:5-7 (NIV)

One of the most fascinating aspects of my day job is the opportunity I have to work with many different companies and to interact with people at diverse levels of the organization from the front line to the C Suite. Long ago I realized that the culture of a company is a trickle-down affair that begins with the man or woman at the very top. I remember one client whose CEO ran the company by fear and intimidation. No one would stand up to him, even when he is clearly mistaken or making a wrong move, for fear of losing their proverbial heads in a board meeting (and, perhaps, their jobs). The result was a highly dysfunctional organization that mirrored the CEO. The entire corporate culture was one of intimidation, fear, and c.y.a. It permeated virtually every level of the operation.

One of the things I’ve observed about David as I’ve been reading his story the past few months is the fact that David had a select group of men in his life who could get in his face and call him to account even if they had to be careful about how they did it. After his affair with Bathsheba, it was the prophet Nathan who got in his face. In today’s chapter, David’s general and right-hand man, Joab, confronts David about the grave danger he’s putting himself in by allowing his grief for Absalom to overshadow his duty as a king and general. The kingdom was in a precarious political situation and David was close to losing it all. Joab lost no time in bluntly confronting David and speaking the truth to him. To his credit, David listened to his long-time trusted general and advisor.

Ever since I was a young man, I have intentionally made sure that I always have at least a couple of friends in my life, men with whom I have intentionally surrounded myself, who have carte blanche to get in my face whenever necessary. These are men with whom I talk and share life on a regular basis. We talk about everything in life. If they think I’m screwing something up, then they have permission to question me or call me out, and they would expect the same from me.

This life journey can become a long slog at times. The first rule any child learns about hiking in the wilderness is “buddy up.” To go it alone is to put yourself in danger. Ironically, our greatest danger often resides within ourselves. Without faithful companions who can catch it and call us out, we may not realize it until it’s too late.

In the quiet this morning, I spent a few minutes recalling all of my carte blanche companions through the years, saying a prayer of gratitude and blessing over each one.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

The featured image on today’s post was generated with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

(Un)Like Father, (Un)Like Son

(Un)Like Father, (Un)Like Son (CaD 2 Sam 18) Wayfarer

The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
2 Samuel 18:33 (NIV)

A few years ago I ran into some old friends of the family whom I had not seen since I was a teenager. When the gentleman looked at me he exclaimed, “My goodness, there’s no mistaking who you are. You look just like your old man!” As I get older, the more comments I get about looking like my father.

“Chip off the ol’ block,” they say of children who become like their parents. As Wendy and I spent time with our young grandchildren this week, we couldn’t help but have the requisite conversations regarding who each of them resembles in the family.

It is interesting the ways we are similar and dissimilar from our parents. This morning I found it interesting to think about, not the similarities, but the contrast between David and his rebellious, patricidal son Absalom:

  • As a young man, David was the anointed king but refused to take the life of Saul or take the throne by force. He waited and suffered for years to let God’s plan unfold. Absalom schemed and plotted to take the throne and kingdom away from his father in a coup d’etat.
  • David was a warrior with blood on his hands, but he also stayed opportunities to kill his enemies, and he even ordered his generals to afford Absalom both respect and gentleness. Absalom, on the other hand, was more indiscriminate. He killed his own brother out of revenge and arguably would not have afforded his old man the same courtesy his father sought to afford him.
  • David made his share of mistakes, but he also acknowledged his failures when confronted with them. While not perfect, David’s self-awareness led to humility and he was constantly aware that even the king was subject to a higher authority. Throughout the story, Absalom’s actions appear to have been motivated by anger, pride, and hatred. His actions were a pursuit of vengeance and ultimately, the pursuit of personal gain.

I was struck this morning as I pictured David mourning for the son who had caused him and his kingdom so much injury. I imagined what Absalom would have done had he been successful at stealing the throne and confronting his father. I can’t picture Absalom being as gracious and forgiving.

As a parent I am fully aware of the ways our adult daughters have inherited my DNA, and how they have each been affected by my words and actions both positively and negatively. I believe David was aware of this, as well. David understood that the seed of Absalom’s rebellion took root in the wake of David’s own moral and relational failures. It did not absolve Absalom of his poor choices, but it afforded David the ability, much like the father in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, to be gracious in his attitude toward his son.

This morning in the quiet I find myself thinking about motivations, character, family, and choices. We don’t get to choose our family. We must all play the hand that we’re dealt. As I’ve progressed in my own life journey I’ve discovered that there is a fine line between acknowledging and understanding the ways our parents and family system affected us and using that knowledge as an excuse for our own poor choices. I think David and Absalom, father and son, are great examples of living on opposite sides of that line.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Great Stories, My Story

But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.” 2 Samuel 17:5 (NIV)

It is said that one of the aspects of great stories is their timelessness. When I studied theatre in college there were entire sections of study devoted to Greek tragedies like Antigone and Oedipus Rex and, of course, the works of William Shakespeare. It was the late 20th century and in many classes, I spent more time studying plays and stories that were hundreds and thousands of years old than contemporary works.

As I read ancient stories like the story of David we’re wading through now, I can’t help but hear echoes of other timeless stories and make connections between them. Power plays for the throne (Game of Thrones), tragic human failure (Anakin Skywalker), and the intrigue of family rivalries (Succession) are the stuff of which classic stories are made. Today as I was reading the chapter, I thought of The Godfather films and the saga of the Corleone family; A timeless classic in its own right. As they led their mafia family, Vito and Michael Corleone always tried to have a guy, loyal to the family, on the inside of a rival family or faction. Luca Brasi dies while trying to convince the Tataglias that he wants to betray Don Corleone. Michael sends his brother Fredo to Las Vegas which not only serves to get Fredo out of his sight but also plants his own brother inside of an operation he doesn’t trust.

A few chapters ago, amidst the chaos of Absalom’s coup, the last thing that King David did before fleeing the palace was to plant his man, Hushai, inside Absalom’s inner circle. It proved to be a cunning move. Absalom took the bait hook, line, and sinker. In today’s chapter, David’s scheme comes to fruition and Hushai sets the hook which will be the undoing of Absalom. Absalom was a cunning young man and had planned his moves against his brothers and father well. In the end, however, he underestimated all the wisdom and experience his father had gathered while running for his life in enemy territory for many years. In addition, Absalom’s self-seeking motivation was about anger, vengeance, hatred, and personal power. The repentant David may have been facing the tragic consequences of his own blind spots and failings, but at the core of his being his heart was still humble before God.

In the third act of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather epic, Michael Corleone’s son confronts his father about the “bad memories” he has of his family and childhood. “Every family has bad memories,” Michael replies. And, so they do. Another appeal of great stories is the connections we make to our own lives and experiences. We are all part of the human experience. Even in my own family, there are true tales of tragedy and intrigue. Times change, but people are people, and our common human flaws source similar tales in our own lives and families. We each play our part in the story. We are each a cog in our family’s system. The cool thing is that we get to choose our character and influence the story with our daily choices of words, relationships, and deeds.

How will I choose to influence my story, and my family’s story, today?

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

The featured image on today’s post created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The Latest: Summer 2022

It’s a gorgeous autumn day in Edinburg, Scotland. It has taken several weeks and a vacation across the Atlantic Ocean for me to make the time for this post. What a year 2022 has proven to be (and it’s not over yet).

This past summer was packed full of fun, both the usual and the non-usual. It began in what has become the usual way over the past twelve years, and that is at the lake with the JPs and VLs. Wendy and I arrived a little early and stayed a little late to enjoy time to ourselves and with friends Dave and Lola.

After returning to Pella, the social calendar included our support of the Pella Opera House at their annual gala.

We also enjoyed our friend, Shanae’s wedding in Des Moines. I was honored to be asked to pray a blessing over the wedding feast, and we had a lot of fun with friends. Wendy and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our granddaughter across the pond, which may (or may not) have prompted Wendy to offer to adopt dear little Audrey as an honorary grandchild for the evening.

We were ecstatic when, just days later, our 2nd grandchild, Sylvie Ruth, arrived. Taylor, Clayton, and Milo welcomed our new bundle of joy in Scotland on June 28th while Wendy and I were at the lake to celebrate a quiet July 4th (Taylor’s birthday, btw) holiday. I toasted Sylvie’s birth with a pint and a stogie on the deck while scoring the Chicago Cubs game. Other than having to spend a few extra days in the hospital to hit all of her health markers, everything went according to plan. So excited to have sweet Sylvie with us.

July ushered in another wedding. I was honored to officiate the joining of Megan and Tanner at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Megan has pretty much been another daughter and we’ve had so much fun getting to know Tanner. It was a fabulous wedding and an amazing reception.

Our friends Kevin and Linda were back in Pella for five weeks this summer and we tried to make the most of it by getting together several times over those weeks. We enjoyed a summer evening of drinks and stogies on the patio. Enjoyed another evening at the Atkins Oasis. The VLs joined us for a Cubs night at the Vander Well Pub, and the six of us helped celebrate Pella’s 175th birthday at a special Pella Soiree one evening.

We also enjoyed visits from a niece and nephew this summer. Our nephew Asher joined us for a night along with his dad, Wendy’s brother Josh. We actually got to host our niece Lydia for a few days while her folks, (Wendy’s sis) Becky and Court got a few nights off. We had fun taking Lydia and Miss Camille to Pella’s new SmashPark. Uncle Tom got to take Lydia to Adventureland. It was her first visit to an amusement park.

We actually had even more gatherings with the Hall and Vander Hart crews. Wendy’s Uncle Brad and Aunt Barb moved back to Pella from Dubuque and we had multiple gatherings at their place. Wendy’s brother Jesse also came to town with his girlfriend Ania, and we enjoyed a great lunch with them and Wendy’s folks. We also enjoyed our nephew Owen’s first birthday gala.

As far as the Vander Well crew goes, all is well. Grandson Milo graduated from Nursery School and started primary school. All is well for Madison, Garrett, and the Rotties down in South Carolina. Papa Dean won both a first-place blue ribbon and a third-place white ribbon for the two stained-glass pieces he entered in the Iowa State Fair. The folks began considering a move to Pella this summer. Mom’s Alzheimer’s continues to progress, but she still manages to be adorably cute. One day on FaceTime my father was telling a long story and was holding his phone so that mom and I were basically staring at each other while Dad talked. I started making faces at her and she started making faces back at me. She’s so funny.

The summer ended with a traditional adult weekend at the lake with the JPs and VLs. It’s always a wonderful weekend of feasting and sharing of life. We spent more time chilling out at the Playhouse this summer and less time out and about. We ended the weekend with me making a double batch of the Vander Well family’s favorite Dutch treat, eireflensjes. The perfect bookend to wrap up the season.

Disloyalty and Criticism

The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?”

Ziba said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’”

Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.”
2 Samuel 16:3-4 (NIV)

I recently mentioned in a chapter-a-day post a gentleman whom I met who had served under five different U.S. presidents while working for the Department of Commerce. His favorite, he told me, was Harry Truman who always made a requested decision in a timely way and was always on top of the many details necessary to carry out the office well. His least favorite, he added, was Dwight Eisenhower whom he observed was on the golf course more than he was in the oval office and who seemed to avoid the politics and details the job required. His observations came to mind again this morning as I read the chapter.

As a history buff I’ve heard it said that military generals, with the exception of George Washington, make poor presidents. Politics is messier than the military. People don’t have to obey your every command. You can’t just give orders, you have to persuade and cajole those who disagree with you. U.S. Grant, who had the dogged determination to order his armies forward no matter the defeat, was the right man for the job in bringing the American Civil War to an end. He has been, however, generally regarded as one of the worst U.S. presidents in history.

As I read the story of David, I find it fascinating that this theme of difficulty moving from military command to political power appears to be apt, even in antiquity. David was a great military leader, but his leadership as a monarch reveals tragic flaws that echo the reflections of Eisenhower by my acquaintance. Absalom stole people’s hearts because he would take the time to listen to their cases and grievances while David avoided the responsibility and kept people waiting. Despite his genuine desire for God’s blessing on his people, David appears to have been more interested in personal pursuits than in national problems.

In today’s chapter, David is on the run for the second time in his life. This time, he’s fleeing his own son. David’s scandals have decimated his approval rating. He has few loyal followers left. As his monarchy collapses around him, people’s true feelings come to light and we see two examples of it in today’s text. I found the contrast between David’s response in the two confrontations found in today’s chapter interesting.

Mephibosheth, the handicapped son of Saul, had personally been shown favor by David. Now that David appears to have let the throne slip through his fingers, Mephibosheth repays David’s grace with disloyalty rather than gratitude. There is a power vacuum and Mephibosheth is going to try and make a play to grab power for himself. David responds by rescinding his former kindness and giving Saul’s holdings back to Saul’s servant, Ziba.

Shimei the Benjaminite lets out his frustrations with David in an annoying one-man protest in which he screams his disdain for David and hurls stones at the king. Unlike Mephibosheth’s disloyalty, which was a personal dishonoring of David’s kindness, Shimei’s verbal and stone assault comes from pent-up frustration with David’s leadership, scandals, and the resulting fallout. Perhaps David recognized the truth in Shimei’s criticism. David turns the other cheek and won’t even let his loyal guard force Shimei to be quiet.

Today I’m thinking and pondering the criticism and confrontations we all face. There is a difference between Mephibosheth’s selfish power grab and Shimei’s frontal assault. There’s a difference in David’s response. Nevertheless, Jesus never made such distinctions in his command to forgive others. His parables and Sermon on the Mount instruct me to forgive both hurtful verbal criticism and a very personal slap across the face. For the record, He experienced both.

In the quiet this morning, I’m taking a little inventory this morning of those who’ve been critical of me, and those who’ve caused me injury. I’m thinking about my own life, leadership and the blind spots that have given others good reason to be critical. I’m considering my own responses and searching my own heart to ask if I’ve truly forgiven them.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

Today’s featured image created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

“If You Can’t Do the Time…”

Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:6 (NIV)

Much like David, I made a mess of life and my first marriage when I was a young man. Those sins and mistakes are among the long laundry list of sins I have committed that God has graciously forgiven. There are still friends, however, who’ve never spoken to me since. Some I’ve reached out to, but they never reciprocated or returned my calls.

Being forgiven does not erase the fact that we must face the natural consequences of our actions. After being confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent conspiracy to commit murder, David showed great remorse and sought God’s forgiveness. The events, however, sewed seeds of scandal, anger, and resentment both inside David’s family and in the public among King David’s subjects. Part of Nathan’s prophetic word to David was that the sword would never depart David’s house as the consequences of David’s blind spots would bear bitter fruit.

David’s children knew their father’s weaknesses both as a father and as a king. David’s son Absalom witnessed first-hand King David’s turning a blind eye to the favored, eldest son Amnon’s rape of Absalom’s sister. The seeds of anger, bitterness, and vengeance have taken root in Absalom’s heart. In today’s chapter, Absalom masterfully exploits his father’s scandal and weakened poll numbers in a brilliantly planned and executed coup d’etat. David is forced to make hasty preparation to escape the city with his closest followers and arrange for spies to gather inside information regarding his renegade son and the rebel plot. David’s very own son had stolen his kingdom and was now reaching out to steal his crown.

David, on the run again just as he was as a young man fleeing from Saul, does what he always does. He cries out to God in song. It was during this episode that David, fleeing from his own son and the rebels seeking to usurp his kingdom that David wrote the lyrics to Psalm 3, a desperate plea for God to protect and deliver David and bless God’s people.

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

In the quiet this morning, I am reminded of many mistakes I’ve made along the journey and their residual effect on relationships, circumstances, and perceptions. Jesus advised people to “count the cost” before agreeing to follow Him. The same advice might also be given when tempted to sin. There is a cost to wrong-doing and we are all wise to give consideration to the tragic consequences that quote arise in the wake of our poor choices. As the saying goes, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

Today’s featured image was created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The Medium Matters

Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth. 2 Samuel 14:1-3 (NSRV)

A few weeks ago, while Wendy and I were spending a few days at the lake, we watched the movie 12 Years a Slave. The Academy Award-winning movie is based on a book written during the abolition movement in America and is the autobiography of a free African American living in the north who was kidnapped, smuggled to the south, and sold into slavery. His story was so powerful, and so powerfully told, that Wendy and I sat speechless on the couch as the credits rolled, tears streaking down our cheeks. Our hearts had been rent. It was, for me, a history lesson, a parable about the human condition, and a call to continue opening my eyes, my mouth, my pen, and my wallet to address similar injustices that still exist in this world today.

One of the reasons I love the arts, and the dramatic arts, in particular, is their ability to communicate spiritual truths and move people to action in a way that no other mode of communication does. I remember during one of the final read-throughs of my script Ham Buns and Potato Salad before we were to go into production one of the female readers, emotionally shaken by the story, exclaimed that we had better have counselors available at the back of the theatre because of the emotions and painful memories it might stir within audience members. I was taken aback by her strong emotional response after simply being part of a table reading of the script. I took it as a compliment that the script and the story stirred her that deeply. As a writer, it gratified me to know that the story had effectively reached at least one person at that level.

Today’s chapter is one that I studied in depth while pursuing my theatre degree in college. It is one of only a few stories of acting told throughout the entirety of the Great Story. Joab needed to get through to King David. Perhaps he’d seen how Nathan’s story of the rich man stealing the poor man’s only lamb had gotten through to the king. David couldn’t see his blind spot even if Joab tried to reveal it to him plainly, but when Joab cloaked it in a metaphorical story, David could finally see his own situation clearly. Joab decides to hire an actor, costuming her in mourning clothes, using a little make-up to make it look like she’d been grieving, and giving her a script to follow. She played the part brilliantly. What impresses me is that she took the part and nailed the role knowing that the King, once it was revealed that he’d been conned, could easily have ordered her death for “deceiving” him with her charade.

I believe that we don’t give enough thought to how we communicate. Not only on a corporate level but also on an interpersonal one. Most every human conflict can be traced back to a breakdown in communication. I believe equally that the hope of redemption and restoration hinges on our ability to communicate it, not only clearly, but in multiple channels and mediums. It was during the pandemic that I start recording these chapter-a-day posts and publishing them as a podcast. I’ve had multiple people confess to me that they never read my posts, but they faithfully listen to the podcast. There’s a lesson in that. Sometimes I have to change the medium of my communication in order for the person on the other end to receive the message.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m take a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

Today’s featured image was created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Blind Spots

Blind Spots (CaD 2 Sam 13) Wayfarer

When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.
2 Samuel 13:21 (NSRV)

I have been doing leadership development with the management team of one department of a client this week. It’s been both fascinating and a lot of fun as I spent time with each team member, learned their Enneagram Type, shadowed them as they went about their job, and observed them coaching their team members. Today, I get to sit with the team and review my observation and recommendations. They are great people and have a lot of potential but they also have a lot of challenges both individually and collectively.

David was a great warrior, a great general, and a great leader of men. Evidence leads me to believe that he was not, however, a great husband or father. As we’ve read David’s story he has slowly been amassing wives like the spoils of war and the result was many children. But, an army of children does not an army make. A family system and the complex relationships between birth order and gender can be difficult enough for a monogamous, nuclear family. I can’t imagine the exponential complexities that emerge when you have eight wives, ten concubines, and children with almost all of them.

As I read through these chapters I’ve noticed that I never read of David telling his children “no” nor do I read of him disciplining them for their behavior. David appears to have even had a reputation among his offspring for not refusing their requests. David’s daughter, Tamar, tells her half-brother Amnon that if he simply asks Dad she’s sure he’ll let them get married. When Amnon rapes Tamar instead and then turns her away we hear of David’s anger, but he doesn’t do anything about disciplining his beloved firstborn son. When Tamar’s full brother Absalom plots to kill their half-brother Amnon in revenge, Absalom goes to David and presses good ol’ dad until David relents and sends all the brothers on Absalom’s little fratricidal sheep-shearing retreat.

David has a blind spot. He can lead an army to endless victories but his record as leader of a family is a tragic string of failures and defeats.

I cannot point at David without three fingers pointing back at me. We all have our blind spots. The managers I’ve been mentoring this week have been learning that their Enneagram Type reveals their tremendous strengths, but also their core fears and weaknesses. If they are going to succeed as a team, they will have to embrace both within themselves and their team members. Our greatest strengths have their corollary weaknesses. We cannot escape this reality, but we can escape being enslaved to it. What we can do is be honest about our blind spots. We can choose to shine a light on them and invest time and attention in addressing them. We can surround ourselves with others who will graciously help us see them, work through them, and who will patiently love us as we do.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m take a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

The featured image on today’s post was created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The Spiritual Test

The Spiritual Test (CaD 2 Sam 12) Wayfarer

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
2 Samuel 12:13a (NIV)

When I was five years old, while on a Christmas Eve sleepover at my grandparent’s house,  I stole all of my siblings’ gift envelopes off of the Christmas tree and hid them in my suitcase. I watched in silence on Christmas day as grandma racked her brain to figure out where those envelopes went. Then, I promptly forgot that my mom would be the one unpacking my suitcase when we got home. I was totally busted. My butt was as rosy as Santa’s cheeks from the spanking that quickly followed. The cheeks of my face were quickly stained with tears of remorse. I called grandma to confess my heinous crime and to ask her forgiveness.

I learned at an early age that your sins find you out. Having said that, let me readily admit that it didn’t stop me from sinning. I’ve made plenty of tragic choices since then. Along my journey, however, I’ve come to realize that hiding, concealing, obfuscating, blaming, and excusing my wrongdoing is both delaying the inevitable and stunting my spiritual growth and development. The further I get in the journey the more readily I’ve embraced my fallibility and shortcomings. I might as well cut to the chase, admit I blew it, and allow everyone to move on.

I’ve been reading the book Seven by Jeff Cook which explores the link between Jesus’ “Beatitudes” and the seven deadly sins. He writes,

“Being poor in spirit is like being part of an AA meeting where all the participants confess openly that their lives have become unmanageable. Poverty in spirit is a conversation over coffee in which tears and regrets and inadequacies cover the table…Those who know they are poor in spirit are blessed because they alone know they need help – and any step toward help must be a step toward community…When we make our hurts and our past and our junk public, we are healed. When we keep them private, it is only a matter of time before they destroy us.”

In this morning’s chapter, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding his illicit affair with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to murder Bathsheba’s husband. His attempt to conceal the fact that he was the father of Bathsheba’s child is revealed in dramatic fashion. David’s response was to quickly confess his wrongdoing and seek God’s forgiveness. It’s a fascinating contrast to David’s predecessor. When the prophet Samuel confronted King Saul with his wrongdoing, Saul excused his behavior and refused to repent of his actions.

We all make mistakes. We all make selfish choices that hurt others. I’ve learned along my life journey that the true spiritual test is in how I respond to God and others in the ensuing shame and guilty conscience, or when my mistakes are confronted and exposed.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

The featured image on today’s post was created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Tragic Retirement

Tragic Retirement (CaD 2 Sam 11) Wayfarer

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1 (NIV)

My grandfather studied education at Central College in Pella and at Iowa State University. He was a school teacher and administrator for many years. When the school system told him he had to retire from teaching he took over the school lunch and bus program. When they told him he had to retire from the lunch and bus program he got a job as bailiff of the county courthouse. When he was in his nineties the judge called him into chambers and said, “Herman, I’m tired of having to wake you up to take the jury out. I think it’s time for you to retire.” It was just about that point in life that my grandfather was no longer able to manage on his own. When he moved into the nursing home, however, he promptly gave himself the job of welcoming new residents and giving them a tour of the facility.

My grandfather was fond of saying that “the day I retire will be the day I die.”

David was a warrior. David was a general. David was a natural-born leader. He was still in his prime, and yet now as King, he chose to stay in Jerusalem and send the army out to war without him.

It would prove to be a tragic choice.

Because he was not out with the army doing what he was gifted and called to do, David found himself on the roof of his palace peeping at another man’s wife. Worse yet, it was the wife of one of his own men who was an honorable soldier. David then made the tragic mistake of inviting the woman over for dinner and sleeping with her. She conceived. This led to the tragic mistake of covering up his actions and ultimately conspiring to commit murder. The consequences of this series of tragic and unnecessary mistakes would haunt David, his family, his monarchy, and his kingdom for the rest of his life and beyond.

We are not told why David chose to “retire” from leading the army. A few chapters ago we read that David wanted to build a temple and God clearly responded that building the temple was not what David was called to do. I get the feeling that having finally ascended to the throne, David was feeling a bit of a mid-life crisis. He’s tired of what he’s always been gifted at doing. Leading the army is what he’s done his entire life. Yes, he’s good at it, but it’s boring to him. David wants to retire from all that and build temples and do other things.

I’m quite certain that my grandfather, given the opportunity, would not have been able to help himself in telling David he should have stuck with what he was gifted and called to do. And, in the quiet this morning, I’m thinking that David should have taken my grandfather’s advice and just stuck with the job until “retirement” was forced upon him. Tragic things can happen if I choose to prematurely retire from the path to which God has called me and strike out on my own.

 A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m take a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014
.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The featured image of this post was created with Wonder A.I.

Just another wayfarer on life's journey, headed for Home. I'm carrying The Message, and I'm definitely waiting for Guffman.

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