Characters In The Shadows: Nahshon

Genealogies — how do you feel about them? I happen to love them, because they contain so many little story nuggets… and I’m just a sucker for God stories! The genealogies often contain what I’ve come to call characters in the shadows: people the Lord used in significant ways, but whose contributions are kept out of the headlines. It’s as if the Lord put them there, in the shadows, as a reward for those who take the time to sniff out the fullest extent of His wonders He buried in His Word.

Nahshon is someone I stumbled upon as I was looking at something else. Who in the world was Nahshon? And why would anyone care about him?

The Unknown Leader

Nahshon, believe it or not, was the #1 dude in the young nation of Israel as they crossed the Jordan and entered the wilderness. 1 Chronicles 2:10 calls him the prince of Judah.

Number one in Israel? What about Moses and Aaron? Well, okay, Moses was the leader of the nation at the time, and Aaron, of course, was the high priest. But after them, Nahshon was the main guy.

To understand why Nahshon is such an important dude, let’s go back to Israel himself (Jacob). We all know his history, how he went to Laban, fell in love with Rachel and worked seven years to get her. We also know that Laban did a Jacob on him to make sure Leah was cared for. And Leah, as you may recall, was the first character in the shadows we looked at. (You can read her story here.)

It appears that God cared for Leah from the sons He gave her. Jacob’s firstborn son came from Leah. In those days and in that culture, the firstborn son had a place of honor and privilege in the family. The family line, honor and inheritance went through the oldest son. Leah, then, had a certain position of honor because she was the wife who gave Jacob his firstborn. The Lord also saw it fit to give Leah the next three sons as well.

Typical of the Lord, there was a reason for this. Jacob’s oldest son Reuben, disqualified himself from the privileges of the oldest son by sleeping with one Jacob’s concubines. Next in line was Simeon, but he and son #3, Levi, disqualified themselves by acting deceitfully toward the men of Shechem and killing them. And so it happened that Jacob’s fourth son, Judah, inherited the status, honor and rank of the oldest son.

And therefore we can see it’s no coincidence that the Lord caused Leah to bear all four oldest sons: even though the first three all disqualified themselves, that still left her fourth, Judah, as the heir of the family line. As the de facto eldest, his would become the royal tribe of the nation of Israel.

The Royal Tribe

The tribe of Judah didn’t come to prominence because King David happened to be from the tribe of Judah, Judah was the preeminent tribe from the time of Jacob’s passing away. Even though Jacob gave Joseph a special blessing by bestowing a double portion upon him, by taking his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own, Judah was still Number One.

There appears to be a cloak of secrecy over the genealogies of the tribes of Israel for the few hundred years they were in Egypt. It’s almost as if the caterpillar of Jacob’s family went into a chrysalis and emerged as the fully fledged nation of Israel when they crossed the Red Sea.

And so it was that after one of God’s greatest miracles, Moses brought some organization to the new nation. Whether Moses being raised in the court of a successful government was one of God’s hidden plans of preparation is something we can speculate on; the Bible never says so explicitly. Whatever the case, Moses displayed a keen sense of leadership and government in the way he organized the priesthood and the nation.

Status In A Picture

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s look at this somewhat crude drawing of the way the camp was laid out every time the new nation set up camp. (Click image to enlarge)

Israel camp

Israel’s twelve tribes in Moses’ camp layout

The names of the tribes are in the grey shaded boxes. The names of their leaders are listed right next to the tribe names. Nahshon here is seen as the leader of Judah.

A couple of other subtleties also emerge from the way the tribes were set up:

  • The position of honor, next to Moses and Aaron, on the east side, the side of the entrance to the tabernacle, is held by Judah, and Leah’s next two sons.
  • Rachel’s tribes are grouped together on the west (far) side of the tabernacle.

This diagram also contains the whole leadership structure of Israel: in addition to Moses and Aaron, there was a council made up of the leaders of the tribes. The Bible doesn’t mention any details, but it’s not hard to imagine that Nahshon would have been the leader among the tribal leaders in that council.

And, as things go in the realms of power and authority, it’s probably no coincidence that Aaron’s wife was none other than Nahshon’s sister, Elisheba (Exodus 6:23 if you want to look it up yourself).

And Aaron’s son and successor, Eleazar therefore was cousin to Nahshon’s son Shalmon, who is (not by coincidence) the subject of the next look at characters in the shadows series.

Till then, keep your eyes open to all the wondrous blessings of the Lord. Sometimes those not flashing in the neon of the headlines are the best ones…

Characters in the Shadows: Leah

God has a heart for the overlooked. Jesse’s young shepherd son David was disrespectfully overlooked. Tamar was wrongfully overlooked by Judah. Mordecai was forgetfully overlooked after saving the Persian king from an assassination plot. God, though, accomplished His purposes in each case. God’s plans are not hindered by mortal man overlooking one of his appointed vessels.

Jacob probably didn’t even notice Leah. He was young, with a rich dad, and he arrived in Padan-Aram with a track record as a go-getter. Rachel was the golden girl he wanted, the one with personality and beauty, and he set about to get her. God, though, had other plans.

For some reason, God had more of a heart for Leah than for Rachel. The Bible’s description of her physical appearance is not flattering. She wasn’t dynamic. In a word, Leah was imperfect. The more we read the Bible, the more God seems to seek out the imperfect among us for His work. The royal line of King David and Jesus Christ went through Leah and not the golden girl, Rachel.

Jacob, self-absorbed at this time, didn’t ask God what His plans were; he just chased the golden girl. God wasn’t fazed, though; He just used Laban to out-Jacob Jacob and Jacob literally woke up to find Leah in his bed. Imperfection, or being overlooked, never stopped God from accomplishing His purposes.

A very good friend and I were talking about this the other day. The first thing we talked about was God’s heart. He had compassion on Leah, the overlooked one, and therefore gave her sons. There is a therefore there. But my friend pointed out something I had never noticed before: With her first three sons, Leah strove for validation, approval and love from her husband. There was a difference with the fourth, Judah. It seems she surrendered her desires for Jacob’s love to the Lord, and her response to the birth of Judah was simply to praise the Lord. No ifs, ands or buts. And that son happens to be the son God chose for His royal tribe. Judah represented Leah’s surrender to God, and she did it without knowing what His plans for her or for her sons were. She just surrendered. Unconditionally. And in doing that, she set God’s purposes in motion. The surrender of the imperfect, that seems to be what God thrives on.

Leah lived her entire life as the overlooked one. But in the patriarch’s burial plot, Jacob has only wife lying beside him. That wife is Leah. Man may overlook, but God never does.

Being imperfect, even overlooked, looks more and more like the best qualification for use by the Lord in the accomplishment of His plans. In that, I’m more qualified than most. To get from qualification to use, all we have to do is add surrender, complete surrender.

God accomplishes His plans through the surrender of the imperfect.

How imperfect are we? How surrendered are we?

The road ahead, imperfectly seen

When Walking On Water Just Isn’t Enough

Has God ever done something special for you? A new job maybe? Car? A special meeting with someone? Restoration of a relationship? A new relationship, maybe?

We all have had at least one “special something” that we just know wasn’t coincidence. It was one of those tangible reminders that God loves us.

What is our normal reaction?

Back in South Africa, where I’m from, there’s a phenomenon that happens fairly regularly in coastal communities. They call it: “the fish are running.” No, it doesn’t mean they get out of the water and line up for a 100 yard dash. It means that a large school of fish is swimming along the coast. But what it really means is the fishing is easy and good. You just drop your line and hook and pull the fish out. Repeat as fast and as long as you can. Sometimes it’s mackerel, sometimes snoek (barracuda).

After a run, everyone’s freezer is stocked for months.

Okay, the question was: when the Lord blesses us with something special, what’s our reaction? Isn’t it something like “the fish are running, let’s get in as much as we can?” Hey, God’s got His blessing wand out, let’s see how much we can hit Him up for. If he gave us a car, we wonder about a house. If He gave us a job, we wonder about a raise. If He healed our back, we push for our shoulder that’s been bothering us.

But… did that miracle or blessing draw us into a deeper walk with Him? Does it entice us to set aside something we had planned for one evening and just crawl up with Him, even if we don’t get any goose bumps and more blessings? To just put on some worship music and soak in His presence with no agenda beyond hanging out with Him?

Jesus actually had an opinion about this. We find it in John 6. After five thousand had received a miraculous meal, they chased him down for several miles.

Was He flattered that they would regard Him that highly? Not so much. They thought the fish were running and they had to put in for some more. Jesus saw that and He was disappointed, not impressed. Seems He doesn’t particularly care for being seen as a school of fish running.

Jesus’ response: do not labor for food that perishes. I am the bread of life, the food that endures to everlasting life. Believe in Me, pursue Me, not for what I give, but who I am.

After receiving a blessing, we can pursue either more blessings, or the Blesser.

How much of Him have you eaten lately?

What?

Why has the flow of blog posts here dried up? (Both readers noticed! 🙂 )

Two reasons: first, I’m putting together a website to be the focus of my writing, albeit in a slightly different vein, and that has taken a lot of time. But that’s not the main reason. As I’m reading through the Bible, I’m in 1 Kings, just passing over to 2 Kings. I’ve read these stories many a time, but this is the first time I’m experiencing some emotional reactions.

Aghast might be an overstatement, but not by much. As I read about each of the northern tribes’ kings rejecting Jehovah as their Lord, I find an incredulous anger in me that’s new. What a bunch of idiots! And what a moronic clown king so-and-so was! (And all of them were.) Scratching my head, I can’t help wondering: if God knew in advance this would happen, why did He embark on this course (splitting the kingdom)? Why did He pick out Jeroboam when He knew he would be such a loser? And it’s not just one dynasty – four times He tossed out a dynasty and installed a new one, and every time with the same result. Why?

I have no answer. Knowing God, I’m sure there is one; there always is. So I’m reading the history with this undertone of frustrated incredulity, when the Mt. Carmel event shifts into view. I settle down. I know this is going to be good. After the parting of the Red Sea, this was probably the most stunning miracle God dropped from the sky to show humanity who God is and who is God. Mentally, I begin rubbing my hands and reading slower to savor the unfolding of this drama. In this sea of crappy futility, we’re approaching an island of heroic victory. This is guaranteed to be good!

Sure enough, the bad guys get zapped, just like I knew they would. But then, surprise! I see something I never saw before, and this just crumbles all the hopes I stored up for the reading of this event. The Great Miracle turns into one of the biggest let-downs, even tragedies, in the Old Testament!

Ask yourself: what exactly did this awesome miracle accomplish? No matter how hard I look, I just can’t see any answer but zip, zero, nada. Nothing! Nothing changed. All the leaders of the nation were there at Ahab’s command. That would be like a joint session of Congress: all were in attendance. All witnessed an incontrovertible and dramatic demonstration of Jehovah’s power. And they all confirmed it by saying, “Jehovah, He is God!” And then they killed the false prophets to top it off. Nice, right?

Wrong. Nothing changed after that. Great emotional event, but nothing changed. Ahab and Jezebel, and the nation’s leaders, made not one single change after proclaiming that Jehovah alone is God. When the sun rose the following morning, Baal was still their god. Less than 24 hours after being shown up as a loser god, totally worthless, Baal is their god again. Can you imagine that??? I am still shaking my head, trying to wrap my mind around that. Hardcore apostasy at its worst.

Oh, then there’s the rain. Elijah said it would stop until he said. Well, after the Great Miracle he said, and, sure enough, it rained almost immediately. What more did Ahab and the nation’s leaders need?

If I was Elijah and I had just facilitated the second greatest miracle in the nation’s history, and I saw myself and my God get blown off like that, how would I have felt? Devastated, incredulous, angry, frustrated, shaking my head and my fist. What, Lord, what? Why are we even doing this?

I can imagine Elijah taking all this in. Blown off like a wisp of steam from a cup of tea. Then, worse, he had to run for his life! I always wondered why he felt the need to flee, but I’m beginning to understand. The Great Miracle didn’t work. It didn’t even last 24 hours. And, rather than the hero and savior, he found himself a fugitive. A fugitive! This was not supposed to happen; this was not in the script. He had pulled off the Great Miracle flawlessly, but… no impact, no change.

How do I know nothing changed? God Himself said so. When Elijah, all devastated and discouraged, was whining to the Lord in the cave about the futility of it all, the Lord told Elijah He had seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Seven thousand? Out of a nation of three or four million? Really!? Remember, this is barely a month AFTER the Mt. Carmel miracle! That miracle, by God’s own math, had zero impact on the nation. God, remember, has total knowledge; He would have an immediate tally of any and all who repented and were added to His number. And none apparently were.

I could go on and make application to us today. (What would happen if you or I did a Mt. Carmel miracle in Times Square or the Mall today?) Israel’s history leaves me too dismayed to go there, though.

What am I missing? Please, talk to me!

Thanks.

The Mall

Pebbles to Campfires

Goliath learned it the hard way: pebbles kill. As he crumpled to the ground, he couldn’t tell: was it the skill of the trash talking youth or his God’s divine intervention that did him in?

In a management training session long ago, our instructor made the statement that success is opportunity and preparation meeting each other on the same side of the street. The more we prepare, the more success we achieve. How true is that in our spiritual lives? How much of our success comes from our preparation and how much from God’s sovereign move? On one hand, we can point to the Lord sovereignly performing miracles, and on the other hand we can see the diligent lifetimes of people like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa. But what about me? If I want to bring revival to my community, how much do I do and how much do I step aside and let the Lord do?

Let’s take a longer look at David’s legendary victory over Goliath. What would we have done after a major victory like that? We probably would have published a book or two, had several articles in Christian magazines and interviews on Christian networks, and perhaps even have ended up starting a new denomination, something called God’s First Sling Church, complete with its own Slinger School and Seminary. Every disciple would be trained in the use of their slings. When you encounter your next giant, you gotta be prepared! We may have developed different types of sling: the nursery sling toy, the Trainer Sling, the Warrior Sling and for the prize winning slingers, the Expert Sling. We’d have an annual Slinger National Christian Conference with several satellite MiniSling conferences. No giant would stand a chance against our ranks of slingers.

How much of that did David do? Did he start his own Slinger Squad? No, he didn’t. David never used his sling again. Rather than enshrining a dramatic  miracle into a formula, he reached forward to what lay ahead, as Paul described it a few centuries later. Unskilled in the art of war, he abandoned the sling, left behind his shepherd days and entered the army as a rookie. It’s not hard to imagine that he was a cocky kid when we listen to what his brothers said and even to what he said as he approached Goliath. Nevertheless, he humbled himself and continued his preparation, learning conventional warfare from the ground up. With his growing military skill and confidence (let’s be kind and call it that) he earned the respect of the men around him and his rise through the ranks was popular and fast. In short order, he became possibly the youngest general Israel ever had. By then, his shepherd days were a dim memory, and his sling lay forgotten at the bottom of his weapon box like one of Andy’s toys in Toy Story. He had become the nation’s hero, the slayer of tens of thousands, and the king’s son-in-law. His preparation for the throne, to all appearances, was complete.

Appearances deceive. David’s preparation had not even reached the halfway mark. He authored the first phase, from shepherd to general. Just when David thought he was done preparing, the Lord took over. With no warning, David’s life fell apart through no fault of his own. The God to whom David sang all those praise psalms in the sheep pasture, the One who gave him success and favor, seemed to vanish from his life. David had no choice but to run. While running for more than a decade, we can see how his cockiness gradually gave way to a humble confidence. His psalms of this period reveal that the Lord of his youth was still with him and still loved him. His circumstances were dramatically different, but his God was still the same… and in control.

We know the end of David’s story. In his changing circumstances, we can see how the Lord prepared him for the opportunity He had waiting for him. David’s preparation was to watch sheep, praise the Lord, fight lions and bears, and learn how to use the sling. God’s preparation was humility, learning conventional warfare, and learning leadership and patience in adversity. God’s preparation was a lot tougher than David’s, but much more valuable once David stepped into his destiny as Israel’s greatest king.

What was David’s role during the time of God’s preparation? He had to keep running to survive. That might sound nonspiritual, but it was all that was required of him. In the evenings, though, he could build a camp fire, relax in the love surrounding him, and praise the Lord. Fleeing and building campfires, that’s all he needed to do. God and time were taking care of the rest. David even made a few mistakes along the way, but none of those mattered.

Do you feel like David on the run? You think you have a calling, and you may even have seen some progress, but somehow have things stalled out, if not fallen apart? Do you wonder if your card might have accidentally fallen out of God’s Rolodex? Do you wonder if you are “missing it?” Does it seem that sheer survival has become so consuming, the persecution so relentless, that your calling, even the kingdom of God itself, has faded to a distant chimera? (Your daily word to look up.)

Relax. We can take heart from David’s story. God never abandoned him. If we search after the Lord like David did, He will direct our paths. While running to just survive, we still have those campfire moments to soak in the love around us and praise the Lord. Let’s relax and enjoy those, and let the Lord take care of the rest. He does such a good job!

The Well Revival

The first revival in the world wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. And when it did, it happened all wrong. In a society dominated by men, it was a woman who caused this first revival.

Who was this super-saint who shifted the spiritual atmosphere? The town slut, that’s who. The townspeople knew exactly who and what she was. Jesus knew who she was the moment He met her. She didn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, but, then again, she didn’t try. Starting a revival never even crossed her mind; she just came to fetch water. This doesn’t fit our script for how revival should happen, does it? But revival happened anyway.

Revival wasn’t supposed to happen before the crucifixion… but it did. A woman wasn’t supposed to talk to a man, least of all a strange man, and most certainly not with a Jew… but she did. A Jewish man was not supposed to talk to a woman, and certainly not a Samaritan woman… but Jesus did. In Mark 7, Jesus explained to the Syro-Phoenician woman that He only came for the lost sheep of Israel, and so He shouldn’t have engaged with a Samaritan woman… but He did.

There were no announcements or ordinations. There was no stadium, town hall, or even farmer’s field set aside for the occasion. There was no mention of hell or any eternal damnation, no oratory, no sound system, no liturgy, no altar ministry team, no worship team, no team at all, in fact. There were no miracles or healings we are told about. There was no altar call. Jesus wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was chased away by the religious order of the day, because they heard he and his team had baptized more people than John. Rather than stay and fight, they retreated to Galilee and just happened to stop in the forbidden territory.

How does that work? How does a slut cause a revival, even (or especially) when Jesus knows who she is? It started with her listening when the Lord spoke. Jesus didn’t offer any threats or enticements to cause this revival. In order, this is what He said (like listening to one half of a phone conversation):

  • Give me a drink (request, asking for something)
  • If you knew the gift of God and who it was asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water (preach and challenge)
  • Whoever drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks My water will never thirst. It will become a fountain of water springing up to eternal life (preaching, slightly mystical)
  • Go, call your husband (asking the impossible)
  • You said it: you had 5, now you’re not married (word of knowledge, speaking truth)
  • The hour is coming when worship of the Father won’t take place here. The hour is here when true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth. God is Spirit (mystical prophesy and theology)
  • I who speak to you am He

Nowhere did Jesus threaten her with hell, promise her anything, or tell her what to do. He told her the simple truth: who He was and who she was. Then He backed it up with a word of knowledge, which pointed a finger straight at her sin, unflinchingly, yet with no condemnation. The way He said it assumed she knew her sin; there was no need to rub it in.

He then proceeded to demolish the parochial theology regarding the irrelevant question of where worship physically should take place. As with her sin, He managed to do so without softening any truth, yet with no condemnation. In this exchange, Jesus displayed His unique way of pointing straight at sin and error, but never in a way that attacks the person. He simply stated the facts and then stopped. He laid out the future, but with neither threat nor promise.

After listening to Jesus, she responded by going back to town to tell everyone what happened. Was she a credible witness? Hardly. They knew her, oh, they knew her! “Isaac, if I catch you as much as looking at that women, you’re a dead man!”

It’s easy to overlook how remarkable it was that she spoke to the townspeople, and even more remarkable that they listened to her.  The very reason that she was at the well was because she was an outcast. The women of a village would normally come to get water around sunset, when it was cooler. That would also be the social gathering spot, kind of like the water cooler at the office. Not her. She had to go get her water at midday, in the heat of the day, because she wasn’t worthy of inclusion into their community.

However, the impact of Jesus on this woman was so strong that she forgot her ostracism and simply blurted out her story to all who were in earshot, whether they were listening or not. Something in her shifted. Without realizing it, she was suddenly speaking with authority and urgency. Where did that come from? Could it have been the Holy Spirit? The words she spoke resonated with people who wouldn’t give her the time of day. Why? Could it be that her words had wind under their wings, the wind of the Holy Spirit?

We don’t have to do revival right. I don’t need to be an angel to cause a revival. All I need is a real encounter with Jesus. The Holy Spirit takes care of the rest.

 

If All Your Dreams Came True…

Imagine all of your dreams coming true. Can you? Has it ever happened before? We know of one: King Solomon. He is the only person of which the Bible says that the Lord loved him so much that He wanted to change his name to Jedediah (beloved of Jehovah). Wow, imagine that! Did it show? Let’s see: Displaying the golden spoon in his mouth from an early age, Solomon grew up in a palace as the heir apparent to the greatest king in the history of God’s own nation. And God promised his reign would be even more majestic.

En route to his destiny, all the drama and intrigue of his father’s reign passed him by. He didn’t need to go and fight in any wars; his dad had Joab. When Absalom conspired to take away his inheritance, others fought that battle for him. All he did was enjoy all the fun, games and good times of a king’s kid. Solomon didn’t have to assume the responsibility of the crown until he was forty, which gave him lots of time to enjoy himself any way he wanted. Unlike Jonathan, he didn’t display any interest in warfare, and wasn’t active in his dad’s army, and nobody seemed to mind. Make love, not war, seemed to be Solomon’s motto . Being the heir apparent of the superpower of the day, Solomon got to marry a princess of the only other superpower worth mentioning: Egypt. And, get this: Solomon didn’t have to provide a dowry, as was the norm. Pharaoh wanted so badly to have his daughter marry Solomon, HE provided the dowry! That pretty much fits what we expect when we think of God loving someone enough to want to change his name, doesn’t it?

Isn’t this what we all wish for and dream about? Be honest: if you could write the script of your life, could you do any better than that? Solomon did. When it looked like he might lose his kingdom to Adonijah’s connivance, his mother and Nathan simply stepped in and protected his interests for him; he didn’t have to do a thing. But wait, as those late night TV ads say, there’s more. Once Solomon ascended the throne, he got a personal visit from the God who wanted to change his name. This wasn’t a fairy tale genie, it was the God of heaven and earth, telling Solomon he could have whatever he wanted. Well, it seems Solomon, on top of everything else, was smart, too. He asked God the right question and then, just like hitting the daily double on a TV game show, he got “everything else” thrown in (as if he didn’t already have everything).

Solomon then proceeded to build an extravagant temple for God, but even for this, his dad had already bought most of the materials. All he had to do was put it together. And when that was done, Solomon received a second visit from Lord–not an angel, the Lord Himself. This visit, though, had a gentle warning.

The fairy tale life of Solomon continued unabated. Because his dad before him was so powerful, and because God loved him, he didn’t need to fight any wars. And, if that wasn’t enough, all he had to do was rake in the money everyone was throwing at him. It was almost like you walking into a bank and the manager taking you aside and insisting that you please take this check for a million dollars.

Could we get used to that? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bottomless bank account, our face on the cover of Time magazine and our choice of marriage partner? And if that person displeased us, all we do is speak to the chief of staff… who simply finds a better one? Add to that absolute power: if someone cut us off in traffic, we simply get on the cell phone and security takes care of not only the problem, but the person, too? When we dream, isn’t that how we dream? Seriously.

Solomon had all of that. He is the one person we know of who truly had the life we only dream of.

So… how did it work out for him? Was this the first happily ever after? Sadly, no. God has (still has) a body of common sense instruction. We call it by many names, most of them unflattering: the law, Old Testament, legalism, and more. Solomon, wise though he was, didn’t follow these guidelines. We know about the woman thing, but there were several other ways in which he blew off the Lord’s guidelines. And over time, gradually but inexorably, Solomon turned his back on the Lord. Sad, very sad.

Solomon received a third visit from the Lord, the one who a few decades earlier had wanted to change his name to Jehovah’s Beloved. This time, though, all Solomon received was a stinging rebuke, and the only promise he received was that his kingdom would be ripped apart, and it was his fault. Going forward, because Solomon turned his back on his heavenly Father, he would have war, dissension and strife. As we know, God turned his back on the glorious temple, too, which was ransacked a few short years later by none other than Solomon’s father-in-law.

Having all his dreams didn’t work out well for Solomon after all. What about us? Could it be that having all our dreams come true might not be the best thing in the world for us? Below the photo, there’s a link to a real life sad article (from a very credible source) about the billionaire scion of the Anheuser-Busch fortune/dynasty, who locks himself in a huge mansion these days. It might not be representative, but it is thought provoking.

Do I still want the Lord to give me all those nice things (sandwiches) I used to ask for? I’m not so sure any more.

How about you?

Simple Pleasures, Vieques, PR

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/fall-of-the-house-of-busch-07012011.html

(Warning: it’s a long read, and not all that edifying.

Sandwiches 2: Of rings and tattoos

She was good looking and friendly. A few days ago, I had to return something to one of the chain stores we all know. The woman at the customer service desk was one of the most helpful I had encountered in a long time. She also had the tattoo of a wedding ring on the ring finger of her left hand, where a wedding ring would go.

The first thing that struck me was how permanent that tattooed ring was. We think of a ring as the symbol of a lifetime commitment. Yet, as we all know, rings come off all too often in our day and age. I’m not a tattoo person. (I know, I know. All I can offer in defense is nobody’s perfect.) But this tattoo struck me for its location and symbolism.

As I waited for her to do her computer processing thing, I wondered why this tattoo made such a strong impression on me. We all see tattoos every day, but none has ever held my attention for more than a second or two. Then it dawned on me. I’m a notorious mind changer, and the very first thought that comes to my mind when I see a tattoo is: what if I change my mind? I have an uncle who had a tattoo on his arm way back in the fifties. I think it was an anchor or something like that. He changed his mind later in life, and it’s no trivial thing to have a tattoo removed, I learned. At the rate at which I change my mind, I’d be keeping the entire medical community in business for life, and so I’ve just kept tattoos off my radar screen. Until I saw that ring.

When we commit our lives to the Lord, isn’t that the most permanent commitment of all? What better symbol to use for the ultimate in eternal commitments than a (gasp) tattoo? I would be happy to have an engagement ring on my  finger as a symbol of my impending marriage to the Lamb. Wouldn’t that be something? And what’s more permanent than a tattooed ring? I don’t even have to take it off when I work in the garden or on the car. What a symbol of a permanent commitment! Hmmm…

I was brought back to planet earth when the customer service gal turned back to me. As she handed me my paperwork, I pointed to her tattoo and said something like nice, tattoo, pretty permanent, eh.

“Yes,” she replied, “unless you have $1,600 to remove it.”

“How do you know how much it costs to remove?” I asked.

The sadness was inescapable as it clouded over her face. “Because I asked for quotes,” she replied softly. I couldn’t miss what she didn’t say. Her heaviness walked out the door with me: someone had changed a mind (again) and someone got hurt (again).

I’m a notoriously slow processor of emotions. And so it wasn’t until a day or two later I realized what an idiot I was. I could have, should have, prayed for that nice woman. At the very least, I should not have ruined her day by reminding her of her misery! To quote Julie Andrews from My Fair Lady: “What a fool I was…what an addlepated fool, what a mutton-headed dolt was I!” (And yes, addlepated is a real word. Have fun looking it up! 🙂 )

I need to expect the unexpected. When I walk in to a store to buy or return something, I have to have my mind focused on the kingdom of God… not my sandwiches! 🙂 We never know when our paths will cross with His plans.

Crossing Paths

Happy Valentine’s Day

Psalm 127:1 – Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.

We usually think of this in terms of bricks and mortar. But it’s even more true in terms of relationships. And there’s really no need to say any more: Solomon said it well right there.

Proverbs 19:14 – Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth,
but only the LORD can give an understanding wife.

Through no fault or merit of my own, I ended up first at the door when the Lord opened the line to hand out awesome wives. All I can say is, “Awesome God! Thank you very much”

And Happy Valentine’s Day to all! May everyone be blessed to cast one shadow with a loved one of your own–if not today, then very soon! 🙂