surrender

Ruined {ex10:7}

Photo © Unsplash/Thu Trang Nguyen Tran

Photo © Unsplash/Thu Trang Nguyen Tran

The question Egypt's officials
put to their king
haunts me

How was he so blind
or so stubborn
or so arrogant
that he didn't see how
everything he loved
was slowly crumbling around him

Or did he see

Maybe the problem wasn't
that he didn't know
but that he did

Maybe the problem wasn't
that he thought he wasn't ruined
but knew he was
and thought there was
still a chance

still a way
he could fix it

One more opportunity
one more try
one more day
to start over
to redouble his efforts
to get it right

Maybe the problem wasn't that Pharaoh
didn't know Egypt was ruined
but that he still believed
he could repair the damage

But there is only
One
who can restore

There is only
One
who can rebuild

There is only
One
who can recover
all that has been lost

and it’s not us—

To be ruined
is not the problem

The problem is
we no more want to obey
than Pharaoh did
those two little words
God spoke:

Let. Go.

 

God's way brings peace.

God's way brings peace.

1 Kings 4

At least starting out, Solomon did things the right way. He had a heart for others. With his newfound power, he was more worried about having the wisdom to judge his people fairly than he was worried about accumulating wealth or honor. And here, we see that God was true to His word: He gave Solomon what he asked for... and everything he didn’t ask for.

Good Question {ex5:2}

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Sjo

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Sjo

Ah,
the ineludible question
of every person
wise or foolish

(for the Lord does not refrain
from entering uninvited
the lives of idolaters
to introduce
Himself).

Asking the question
indicates neither
wisdom
nor
folly.

But how one responds
to the answer
reveals
a fool
or
a genius.

Once we know
the sun
the River
the frogs
et al
are frauds,
will we
relent
or
will we
refuse?

Who is the Lord that i should listen to him?
said pharaoh, the little transient ruler of egypt.

I'm so glad you asked
replied Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

 

God is going to sort things out.

God is going to sort things out.

Poor David. Fleeing from Jerusalem, rumors flying around him, and now, being abused by a man from Saul’s family. Not only was the man cursing David, but he was throwing stones and dirt at him and his troops as well. Finally, one of David’s men asked if he could go over and cut the guy’s head off. (What a nonchalant request.) David’s reply was very interesting:

God can be trusted.

God can be trusted.

2 SAMUEL 15

This has to be the most important lesson we could ever learn in life... and it certainly seems it was a lesson David had learned well. As he was fleeing Jerusalem—running for dear life from his own son—he realized that the Levites and the high priest had carried the ark of the covenant out of the temple. This wasn’t unusual. In the past, if you’ll remember, the Philistines had captured the ark and carried it away—sort of like a good luck charm. Well, that didn’t work out so well for them.

Consume Me {ex3:2}

exodus-surrender-consume-me-poem.png

The burning bush
was burning
but it was not.

Burning,
but not burning up
or burning down
or burning out.

Just burning.
A vessel
not too imperfect
to hold
Perfection.

Perhaps I could be
such a vessel.
One you burn, but don't burn up.
One you wear, but don't wear out.
One you break, but don't break down.

Consume me.
Engulf me.
Overwhelm me.

Do whatever it takes.
Enshrine your Perfection in me.
Use me
to get the attention
of your prophets
and priests.

I am just a simple shrub
ready to burn.

 

God cannot be managed.

God cannot be managed.

2 SAMUEL 6

Right off the bat, I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude for the way I look at Uzzah’s story to Eugene Peterson’s insights in his book Leap Over a Wall. If you’d like to read more about the life of David, I highly recommend picking up that book. It helped me see a lot of things in a new way—including the story of Uzzah.

God tames the wild heart.

God tames the wild heart.

1 SAMUEL 18

What a great contrast in this chapter—of what men are like with and without God. By this time, Saul was obviously aware that God was with David: "Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul." (vs 12) Furthermore, because God was with David, he had success in everything he did. The more Saul tried to derail his success (and even end his life), the more David flourished.

God prefers right to rite.

1 SAMUEL 15

I decided to go with the "softer" title for this blog. My first choice was God doesn’t care about your "good deeds." This was what Saul learned in 1 Samuel 15. He expressly disobeyed God’s command when he went into battle with the Amalekites. Nobody was to be taken alive, and everything that belonged to the Amalekites was to be destroyed.

But Saul didn’t listen to the Lord. Oh, he put everyone to the sword all right. Everyone except King Agag, that is. He took him as a prisoner of war, perhaps to gloat or maybe to torture him for a while. Who knows. And in addition to this, the army plundered everything that was "good"—the sheep, cattle, and lambs. They kept the choicest of everything for themselves.

When Samuel came to meet Saul (knowing that he had violated the Lord’s command), I love his answer to Saul’s declaration that he had carried out all the Lord’s instructions: "But Samuel said, 'What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears?'" (vs 14) Ha! But Saul was adamant that he had obeyed the Lord, saying that he had simply brought the animals back from battle in order to make sacrifices to God. (I think, in his mind, he thought that’s what would make God less angry.)

Photo © Unsplash/Chinh Le Duc

Photo © Unsplash/Chinh Le Duc

"And Samuel said:
Do you think all God wants are sacrifices—empty
rituals just for show?
He wants you to listen to him!
Plain listening is the thing,
not staging a lavish religious production.
Not doing what God tells you
is far worse than fooling around in the occult.
Getting self-important around God
is far worse than making deals with your dead
ancestors." (vs 22-23)

God always tells us the right thing to do. And if we are unwilling to listen and do what is right, God doesn’t care how many rites we try to put in place of our obedience. God doesn’t want our sacrifices; He doesn’t want our good deeds; He doesn’t want our empty worship. He wants us. And if a willing, surrendered heart isn’t part of what we bring to Him, then nothing else matters.

Do you think all God wants are sacrifices?
He wants you to listen to him!

Forget about the rite. Do the right!

Photo © Unsplash/Nina Strehl

Photo © Unsplash/Nina Strehl

On Dying in Childbirth {gn35:16-18}

genesis-sacrifice-on-dying-in-childbirth-poem.png

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 wants every part of us.

God wants every part of us.

JOSHUA 7

There is a term in this chapter of Joshua that keeps popping up in the Old Testament—something that I have a lot of questions about. It is the Hebrew word charam. In many Bible versions, when a text includes this word, there will be a footnote at the bottom to explain that "The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them." In the Hebrew lexicon, the word can mean to consecrate, to devote, to forfeit, to utterly destroy.