NaBloWriMo 2013 Day 26

487600_10100102522805993_1931938180_nSometimes getting away from it all is the best medicine.  Upon leaving my former employer I began to discover as I job searched that I had more time than I knew what to do with.  I realized that I had allowed myself to get swallowed up in the job.  It happens to the best of us.  We turn into workaholics and while sometimes that is a good quality it is a very bad thing to run at full throttle all the time.  So I find myself out of gas and on a very large desert island.

I found that I now had time to write.  I found that coffee shops were something to visit.  And I found my way back to daily conversations with God.  That last one might need some explanation.

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Honoring and Valuing Others

imageTonight’s devotional is hard. The story so far is we’ve taken a hop and a skip past the story of David and Goliath. We’ve found ourselves in 1 Samuel 26:7-11 in which David and Abishai are sneaking into Saul’s camp. A moment comes when David’s companion notices that the current King is splayed out in the center of camp. A perfect moment is at hand. David could strike down Saul and the rest would be history.

And yet David does not seize the day (or the spear) and instead replies that he would not dare kill God’s anointed. He proclaims that Saul will either die in his bed, by God’s Hand or in battle but he will not be the one to do such a thing.

It’s a heavy concept to wrap our head around – the idea that David would have the wherewithal to resist the opportunity to kill the tormentor. Not just that but that he would have the depth of faith to give it up to God and His plan for Saul – this speaks volumes. It also is a direct challenge to us and the drama we allow to fill our lives. In the devotional book it challenges me to, “…think of the people you consider your enemies. Pray for them and ask God to help you honor them, even though doing so may seem impossible. Seek out intentional opportunities to honor those who dishonor you and to value the lives of those who do not value you.”

To say that today’s devotional is a whopper would be understating it. There’s much to chew on here, more to marinate on in the brain and plenty to stew in the heart about. So, grab a chunk off and see what you come up with. Faith in Christ is never stronger than when pushed, prodded and poked with a stick.

Let Me Be Avenged

It had to happen eventually.  Samson’s life had to come to an end.  And it’s a terrible end.  Blinded in both eyes, captured and made a fool by the enemy.  His hair cut, his strength gone and those that destroyed him partying all the night while he lay shackled.  And yet in the end this once strong behemoth that felt the stirrings of the Spirit of the Lord and who has fallen will stand up one last time to pray to his God for one last storm of strength by which to avenge the Philistines for his two eyes.

It is an epic and legendary ending to a story that began in Judges 13 with his mother and father being visited by an Angel of the Lord.  A story with a heartbreaking arc that ends in bloodshed and the loss of the title character.  But it does not alienate God or change God.  It reflects the choice God made in responding to Samson’s request with a “Yes” and allowing him to avenge against those that destroyed him.

God is certainly fascinating.

Talking With God

The story of Samson is another one of those Old Testament stories that I can’t claim to know from start to finish.  We all know the story of Samson and Delilah.  We all know how it ends with Samson having his final revenge on his captors by giving his life.  It’s a fantastic story of intrigue and wiles and a tremendous reflection of God and how He works in ways sometimes we’re not all that comfortable with.  In my last post I talked about how we as Christians have to reconcile the entirety of the Old Testament with it’s blood, gore, death, destruction and even (gasp) sex (Song of Solomon anyone?) with the general understanding we have of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and His sacrifice for us in Love, Mercy and Grace.

It’s something I’ve been recently challenged on with our young adults pastor just finished up pushing through the OT subject.  It is a revealing and troubling thing when you have to start thinking critically about things most of us would rather not talk about or even deign to accept as the reality of our Faith.  I always come back to the quote about Aslan from “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” when one of the animals answers a question about The Great Lion being safe by saying,

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Our faith is never safe.  It is a rocking rolling adventure without end.  If anyone tells you different, slap ‘em with a fish.  Or whatever animal or vegetable you may have on hand.

And so when I look to Samson’s story it’s not a safe story.  It’s a messy story.  It’s violent, filled with stories of women behaving badly, men behaving badly and in the end the ultimate moment of answering to God for it all – the final curtain with Samson in the middle.  And it all started quietly enough with a man named Manoah and his wife who remains nameless.  Manoah’s wife has a visit from an Angel of God telling her despite her curse in not being able to have children she will indeed have a son and he’s going to save the world like Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and James Bond.  Perhaps not in that order, but you get the gist.

The part that I love about this entire thing is that when his unnamed wife tells him the story Manoah takes a step in talking to God.  He asks for more information and details.  God sends the Angel back but Manoah doesn’t realize it’s an angel until (in typical Angel fashion) the Angel of God ascends into heaven through the blazing flames of a sacrifice the man and his wife built.

They fell with their faces to the ground and Manoah loses his mind figuring fire, brimstone and lightening are coming for them because they’ve seen God.  His wife counsels them that God accepted their sacrifice as they talked to Him.  They will have a son named Samson.

It all starts here in Judges chapter 13.  Samson is born, grows up blessed by God and soon begins to feel the stirrings of the Spirit of the Lord.  There’s plenty more of the story but the part I focused on tonight was when they talked with the Angel and by proxy – God.  Manoah’s speaks plainly and simply to the Angel – something we can learn in our conversations with God.  It doesn’t have to sound High and Mighty with big words and practiced sayings.  It can simply be, “Dear God – I’m having/have had/going to have a helluva day.”  And take it from there.

I like the challenge of talking to him face down and I’ll be giving it a whirl this week.  How do you pray?  What do you find helpful in drawing you closer to God?

Until tomorrow – To God be the Glory, the Honor and The Praise in all things.