Sunday, July 29, 2012

Four Kings - Only Two Pair

I happened to be listening to the “wisdom books” a while ago, and it dawned on me that Solomon wrote much of what we have as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes with the intention of educating his son as he prepared to take the throne of Israel.  It’s a good endeavor, to be sure, and a concept we would do well to emulate.  The legacy we leave to our children and those we may teach and mentor is important.  They will stand in the gaps we do and to take the job of preparing them seriously is a good thing.  But if all it consists of is “book learning”, then I’m afraid we will miss the mark.  Perhaps that’s what happened between Solomon, widely regarded as the wisest ruler of his day and his son Rehoboam - who was the last king of the divided nation and a pretty nasty guy from all accounts I read.

Fast forward a few generations and you find another record of a “good” king.  Hezekiah is ruling Judah and the records show “he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD”.  But the king got sick and God’s prophet came to tell him that he would not recover.  Hezekiah turned over in his bed and whined about it until God sent the prophet back to tell him that he would live another fifteen years.  Apparently, this fixed allotment of time made another king lacks in his fathering, because three years later, the next king was born and when Manasseh took the throne at the tender age of twelve, the records show his fifty-five year reign to be among the most wicked on record for the tiny kingdom of Judah.

So, it dawned on me that these two stories represented four kings.  And anybody who knows anything about playing cards can tell you that four kings is a very strong hand.  But rather than representing four-of-a-kind, these four kings amount to no more than two pair.  Two pair, in all the rules I read, is on the lower end of the pecking order.  So what should have been a show of strength, really wasn’t.  What should have been a legacy of lessons bathed in wisdom and the goodness of God instead resulted in two young kings with rebellious attitudes who took a nation and drove it to division, then drove it further into captivity.  Not a pretty picture when you look at it a few thousand years later.

The Crooked Path provides me an opportunity not only to learn from what I experience, but to pass that learning on to the next generation.  My daughters and others who I will influence have a huge task ahead of them.  This world isn’t getting any easier as the Story progresses toward its climax.  Evil doesn’t just go away on its own, and preparing myself and the next generation for the battle is a serious task.  Mere book learning just won’t cut it - it never did.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Path of Life

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."(Psalm 16:11, ESV)
My wife uses a devotional titled "Jesus Calling". Another cyber-friend also does and posted an image of the entry for July 14 on a social network today. It kind of solidified some thinking I've been doing and prompted me to write this post. Summarizing it, the devotional says:

"Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you ...Together we will forge a pathway up to the high mountain ... Someday you dance lightfooted on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy ... Stay on the path I have selected for you.
It truly is the path of Life."

That's a powerful message to think about, especially when our journey seems to get bogged down by life's circumstances. And the impact of those circumstances is very real ... never let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Our world is a fallen, broken place - but it is our place for right now. The "trick" is to remember we do not have to endure it alone.

The Crooked Path will often take me through times and places that seem beyond dull or painful. My steps will be slow and sometimes painful to take. Still, I need to look around me for the little clues that ensure I know my Father watches out for me with each step. If I look beyond what I think I see, perhaps I can say with Job:

"And this is only the beginning, a mere whisper of his rule.
Whatever would we do if he really raised his voice!" (Job 26:14, The Message)