God's love

Blood and Water {ex7:20}

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I love this river
I have stood on its banks
frolicked in its swell
almost been swept away by its current

But
I won't soon forget
the moment I met You
and I realized
that the mouthful of
—what I thought was—
clear, cold, refreshing water
was nothing more than
coppery, hot, metallic blood

I'd like to say
that since that moment
I've never cupped my hands again
to draw this putrid liquid
up to my mouth
but You know
that personal Niles are hard to abandon

I've been kneeling
at this river
my whole life
and You know just how
deep a canyon
it has carved in my heart

Still You couldn't bear
to leave me here
fervid and thirsty
never having tasted
Water from the Fountain
that will never
run dry

 

God's ways are everlasting.

God's ways are everlasting.

1 Kings 12

What a beautiful little nugget there is tucked away in this chapter of 1 Kings. Solomon has died, and his son Rehoboam has taken over the throne in Israel. The people—who had endured hard labor under Solomon—came to Rehoboam and asked him to ease up on them a bit. After asking for some time to think it over, Rehoboam consulted his father’s advisers. This is the advice they gave him: "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants." (vs 7)

God disciplines because He loves.

God disciplines because He loves.

1 Kings 9

This is, I’m sure, a recurring theme we will encounter as we continue our journey through the Old Testament: God disciplines the ones He loves. And His discipline always carries a redemptive component (otherwise there’s no point to it). But often, I find that it’s God’s discipline that garners Him the most criticism. People tend to look at His "threats" of discipline in the Old Testament as something punitive, harsh, and retributive. And that’s how God gets a bad rap.

God isn't above His own law.

God isn't above His own law.

1 Kings 2

Throughout history, there’s probably been at least one thing that set a king apart from his subjects: He didn’t have to abide by the same rules as his fellow citizens. That’s one of the "perks" of people in power—they tend to be (or at least see themselves as) above the law. They aren’t held to the same standard as everyone else.

God doesn't coddle His difficult children.

God doesn't coddle His difficult children.

1 Kings 1

Several years ago, I did some substitute teaching at a local school. Boy, had it been a long time since I was in elementary! It seemed that some things have certainly changed. The first day I subbed, I noticed that two children in the classroom were carrying what I can only describe as little, wireless keyboards. At the top was a small digital row where they could see what they were typing. When they were finished, they would print out what they had typed on a printer in the hallway. They would go to the printer, retrieve their assignment, and return to the classroom to hand it in.

God sees you as more than a number.

God sees you as more than a number.

2 SAMUEL 24

Perhaps the same question that went through my mind also went through yours as you read this chapter: Why did the Lord get so angry over a census? Clearly, not only was God not pleased with what David had done, but David himself recognized that he had done a bad thing once it was over: "David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.'" (vs 10)

God loves those who hate Him.

God loves those who hate Him.

You love those who hate you! This was the accusation Joab leveled at David after the big battle where David’s son Absalom was killed. David was absolutely devastated by Absalom’s death, so instead of celebrating the victory of his "enemy," David returned home, weeping over the loss of his child. Apparently, Joab didn’t like that:

God is a tenderhearted father.

God is a tenderhearted father.

2 SAMUEL 18

Outside of Jesus’s cry of abandonment on the cross, this chapter contains, perhaps, the most heart-wrenching cry in the Bible: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!" (vs 33) Sure, at first you might think any father would be devastated over the loss of a child. But this wasn’t your average child. Absalom wasn’t a good boy. In fact, when he was killed, he had one goal in mind: to murder his father.

God is not afraid to say the hard things.

God is not afraid to say the hard things.

2 SAMUEL 13

What a sad, sordid chapter. It’s hard to know where to begin. Amnon, eldest son of David, somehow got it in his head that he wanted to have sex with his half-sister, Tamar. Once she became aware of his desire, she begged him to make her his wife instead of just using her and throwing her away like a piece of trash. But he wouldn’t listen. He went ahead with his disgusting plan to rape her, and in the end, he "hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her." (vs 15)

God is not prejudiced.

God is not prejudiced.

2 SAMUEL 11

Sometimes, Bible chapters seem scant on the information they provide about God. However, there is a very clear statement about God at the end of 2 Samuel 11. After David’s affair with Bathsheba and the ensuing cover-up (which included the premeditated murder of Uriah), the chapter ends with this declaration: "The thing David had done displeased the Lord." (vs 27)

God loves His enemies.

God loves His enemies.

2 SAMUEL 9

What another beautiful picture of God revealed in David in 2 Samuel 9. After being established as king of Israel, David looks for a way to pay kindness to the family of Saul: "The king asked, 'Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?'" (vs 3) This was something quite remarkable in David’s time. In those days, kings would do everything possible to exterminate the descendants of previous kings in order to prevent their ascension to the throne at a later time.

God doesn't get what He wants by force.

God doesn't get what He wants by force.

2 SAMUEL 4

What made Rekab and Baanah think that David would rejoice over their murder of Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth? Didn’t they remember how David reacted to the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul? In their zeal to secure the throne for David, they did something very foolish... and paid for it with their own lives.

God's arms are always open.

God's arms are always open.

RUTH 1

I have always loved the story of Ruth. To me, it is a great story of how God doesn’t harbor any prejudices. No matter where we have come from, no matter our background or family history, no matter our past life’s experience and choices, God’s arms are always open to us. He is eager and ready to receive us, and He is always working to woo us back to Him.

God believes in a good offense.

God believes in a good offense.

JUDGES 15

If you like sports, you’ve probably heard the old saying that the best defense is a good offense. In other words, in the middle of a game, instead of trying to fight off an attack from the opposing team, you want to be on the offensive. You want to have to make them shut you down... not the other way around. The best defense is a good offense.

God wants us to choose.

God wants us to choose.

JOSHUA 24

Here we find Joshua’s famous words to the Israelites: "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (vs 14-15)

On Dying in Childbirth {gn35:16-18}

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Rachel is a cautionary tale
for every woman
who dreams of having
a baby.

Rachel is a reminder—
just the first in a long, tragic history of reminders—
that choosing to have a child
is dangerous business.

Having a child can kill you.

.                 .                 .

No, having a child will kill you.

The day you give birth
may not be the last day you draw breath,
but you will, at the very least,
wish you were dead
four hundred times
in the first three months alone.

And though you may not realize it immediately,
the woman you were
before that first peculiar cry cleaved the air
is dead and gone—
she will not be seen again.

The woman who emerges in her place
will have a different sort of heart,
one that is permanently divided—
half of it still inside,
half of it rolling, then crawling, then walking around on two legs,
forever on the outside.

She will have a different sort of heart,
one that can be irreparably ruptured by the beautiful moments
     as well as the ugly ones,
one that is no longer impervious to indifference or animus,
one that is no longer her own.

Choosing to have a child is dangerous business.

To make a child in your own image
is to relinquish control of your heart to another being
who may or may not
cherish it.

To make a child in your own image
is to abandon personal rights
for the hope of relationship.

To make a child in your own image
is the genesis of unending sacrifice.

Just ask Rachel.

.                 .                 .

Or God.

 

God does not remember our sins.

God does not remember our sins.

DEUTERONOMY 33

I know. No big “earth-shattering” revelation today. We all know that God doesn’t remember our sins, but it’s awfully nice to see it in action. This promise of God’s isn’t just a claim; it’s a reality. In Deuteronomy 33, Moses pronounces a blessing on the people of Israel as they are getting ready to enter the Promised Land. As I read through the list of blessings, I couldn’t help once again noticing the names behind the tribes of Israel: Dan, Asher, Gad, Levi, Judah...

God loves His rebellious children.

God loves His rebellious children.

DEUTERONOMY 31

I would like to marry two concepts I find in this chapter. First, that God’s love is active. It is a verb, not a noun. And second, that God loves us even while knowing exactly who and what we are. His intimate knowledge of our wickedness does not change His love for us. In fact, if anything, I think it fires Him up to love us (that is, to fiercely act for our best good) even more.