As a kid, I was immersed in Bible stories, and awed by the heroes who lived them. As I got older, they made me feel inadequate. They were so much more than I could ever be.
People like Jonah and Samson didn’t count. Their stories were told to show how not to be. I wouldn’t run away like, Jonah, or so I thought. And Samson, well, Samson was just strong; he wasn’t very smart. As a girl, I had little respect for someone as foolish as he.
But there were so many others…
I wasn’t getting the whole story. There were parts I wasn’t told, and parts I brushed aside.
Much of the Bible will never be taught in children’s Sunday School classes or be put in colorful storybooks. Look how cute we’ve made Noah’s story of world-wide destruction and the near wiping-out of humanity, for crying out loud. Noah naked and passed out drunk afterward isn’t going to make it on a nursery wall.
As it shouldn’t.
The Bible isn’t G-rated. Following God isn’t all safe and sanitary, and it’s not about being nice.
It’s good for kids, and adults, too, to see Biblical examples of what God can do through faithful men and women. People. One benefit of taking responsibility for reading the Bible on our own, not just letting others tell us what’s in it, is getting a better view of the lives of the people of the Bible.
How Satan must laugh when we allow misunderstanding of the Bible to hobble us from pursuing our purpose.
All those heroes who did things I couldn’t imagine doing, were just people. Like us. They made mistakes, some major ones, but God still used them.
No past sin permanently excludes me from useful service. The sin that keeps God from working fully in and through me is pride.
Whether it is the selfish pride that fuels disobedience and unrepentance, or the backwards pride that believes I am unworthy and useless, pride tarnishes my witness and keeps me no closer than the fringe of open communion with God.
As a young shepherd, David faithfully fulfilled his duties. He killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands. When his father sent him with food for his brothers in Saul’s army, he went and witnessed Goliath humiliating God’s chosen with taunts.
David never questioned the rightness of stepping up to take on the giant. Goliath mocked God; God would not let it pass. David did not question Samuel when he anointed him as the next king of Israel, nor did he try to wrest leadership from Saul. He trusted God, and moved in His timing.
When overwhelmed by enemies, David poured out his sadness and fear, and turned them around to praise in the psalms. When he saw no way, he knew God did. As king, his armies were mighty, and Israel became greater under his leadership.
He was a model of the courage found in true humility. David became great because he knew God is great. He trusted God, and obeyed when it meant diligence in the field with his sheep, or in the face of a giant between two armies. He accepted God’s will when it meant hiding in caves from the king who wanted to kill him, and when it was time to lead the nation and its armies.
In time, the things that kept David constantly aware of his need for God faded away. He was king. His kingdom was well-established. The Ark was in Jerusalem. All was at rest in his world.
David got restless. He probably didn’t notice how far from whole-hearted communion with God he had slipped by the time he saw beautiful Bathsheba bathing.
We don’t know much about Bathsheba. Many have cast her as the temptress, aware of the king looking down, and of her own beauty. Some see her as innocent, a woman doing what women did, under the gaze of the king who could look down on them all, and who should have been away with his armies.
Whatever Bathsheba’s intent, David decided he had the right to take what was not his. His adultery, which could have been rape because Bathsheba may not have been able to refuse him as her king, led to pregnancy. Fear of being found out led David to scheme against a good man who was faithful to his God and his king. When David’s scheme to cover his guilt failed, David orchestrated Bathsheba’s husband’s death.
The man after God’s own heart became so hard-hearted he committed murder.
Unquestioning trust in God that created the beautiful transparency evidenced in the psalms and unself-conscious worship as when he danced before the Ark, deteriorated to self-absorption and fear of discovery that destroyed lives.
Then God sent Nathan.
David’s anger over a fictional selfish rich man taking advantage of a good poor man opened his eyes to his culpability. It broke him. Seeing himself as he had become led to repentance. Repentance, to restoration of relationship.
We don’t want to see our sinfulness for what it is. When we are confronted by the ugliness of the sins we rationalize as small – our envy, deceit, greed, lust, the sins we can keep hidden in our hearts – it should break us.
The breaking is good. If we allow the painful emptying of that which dishonors God.
So many of God’s faithful had moments they took their eyes off God and made bad choices. God didn’t cast them aside for their failure. We can take comfort in knowing our mistakes don’t destroy our usefulness forever.
But we should also take warning. Redemption allows us to stand before God in Christ’s righteousness. Restoration of relationship with God after we have chosen our own way over His, does not mean the ripples we have set in motion will be stopped. Nathan told David the consequences of his actions would affect him and his family the rest of his life.
I wonder what the world would be like if Sarah and Abraham hadn’t decided to help God fulfill His Promise.
I’m not a perfect blogger, writer, mother, wife, friend… the list goes on; but I’m not inadequate. God gives us everything we need to accomplish what He calls us to do. Our job? Trust and obey.
I’d like to be more like Deborah, and less like Thomas..
Then there’s Elijah… He accomplished (Yes, God through Him) AMAZING things. If anyone was faithful, Elijah was. Yet he suffered crushing depression. I learn so much about what depression isn’t, and what it can’t do, I want to share the encouragement Elijah’s story is to me. My first ebook will be available this spring, YAY! And the topic, you guessed it! ELIJAH, one of my favorite people of the Bible.