Reading 1 Samuel chapter 8… its funny how we take things into our own hands and make plan’s for God even when the circumstances seem to justify us to take action. In this Chapter Samuel the Judge over Israel, was getting older and he appointed his sons to judge over Israel but they were wicked. It seems normal for the people to not want to be left under the care of these wicked judges so the approached Samuel and demanded to have a King. I used to read this passage and think, “well what’s so bad about that? Who wants a wicked judge who does not walk in the way of the Lord to lead.” However God did not see it that way! He saw their request for a king as a rejection of his own rule. But why? Isn’t if fair to seek another option if the one set before you does not seem to fit in God’s ways? Well the answer is two fold. First one of the repeated reason’s for the people’s desire for the a Kings was so that they could be like the other nations led by a physical ruler. God’s plan for his people was to lift them up as different so they could be a witness to those around them yet they wanted what everyone else had. Secondly, even though the grim situation of looking for a righteous leader seemed to warrant an action, the action was not theirs to take. It reminds me of the scripture that warns us, to not lean to our own understanding to but seek understanding. Even when we know that something has to be done, we have to demonstrate trust that God knows what is happening and he also knows the best way to fix it. What are two wicked judges to the same God who parted the red sea? Can he not change the minds of Kings and win battles without even fighting? We don’t need to plan for God, he plans for us. We just need to trust he is big enough to handle what is confusing to us.
Is it possible to fear the Lord a little but not enough? Reading 1 Samuel chapters 4-7 the Philistines stole the Ark of the Lord and defeated the Israelites. As a trophy they brought the Ark into the Philistine camps first to Ashdod, then to Gath then to Ekron. In every city the presence of the Ark of the Lord created chaos. Tumors, Death and Infestations of Rats. Their hand made God’s were found on the ground with their heads and feet smashed. They had seen what the God of Israel had done to the Egyptians and decided to Honor the Lord by returning the arch with a guilt offering. They even created a test to make sure that it was the God of Israel that had inflicted them and that it wasn’t by chance. God showed His great power and defended His name, the Philistines feared God. But not enough… Not enough to get rid of their defeated and broken Idols, the rebuilt them and set them up right. Not enough to withdraw from the Israelite territories. Even after returning the Ark the continued to oppress the Israelites for 20 years! How can the stand before a great God whose very presence destroyed their cities and tore down their idols and still defy him? Is it possible to fear the Lord a little but not enough? It wasn’t until the Israelites who had also seen these mighty works of the Lord 20 years later repented and got rid of their own Idols and decided to fear the Lord only that the Philistines were defeated. I have always been dumfounded by the people who got to see the physical miracles of the Lord, the plagues, the manna, the parting of the red sea yet they didn’t fully submit to the Lord. Over time God has shown me that I exhibit that same stupidity when I have witnessed God’s mighty hand and fear the Lord enough to go to church, be nice to people, try not to curse, don’t get drunk, yet I have my own weak idols stashed away that I do not abolish. Psalm Chapter 9 says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all understanding. This is not a fear like the one we have of the bogie man, but a fear of reverence and respect that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. I have always said that we don’t fear the Lord enough in his blessings and his curses. The fear of the Lord should not allow us to stay in our safe and tidy comfort zones, it should push us to extremes, It should push us to total abandonment unto Christ, it should push us to relentless zeal for the Lord and His statutes. It is possible to fear the Lord a little but not enough unfortunately we do this every time we openly choose to defy him in the face of His great and mighty work.
I am 30 today. People say 30 is the new 20 but I am here to testify that is the same old 30! I find that I have all kinds of problems I didn’t have at 20.
I have dark circles under my eyes that are going no where fast. My back hurts more often and my knees creek a little more. This morning I found an undeniable fuzz over my lip that I swear didn’t used to be there. I’ve got dimples and pimples, stretch marks and bruises. Laugh lines are appearing and despite what everyone else says I see that slight wrinkle forming over my brow.
So the answer is NO! 30 is not the new 20. 30 is 30 and 30 is wonderful! This body has started to show light signs of distress and general wear and tear. Things aren’t like they used to be but things are still great! In fact things are better than ever. For every physical sign of age and growth is matched by emotional, spiritual and mental growth! That’s a good thing! This type of growth is worth every distress mark on my body.
I am mentally more stable, I know who I am and I am firmly rooted in Christ. I have learned to not be prideful and haughty as I was in my youth. I have learned not to boast. I have even learned (to a certain degree) how to receive rebuke and grow from it. I have learned that not everybody likes me and that’s ok. I have learned that sometimes…YES sometimes I am actually wrong. I have learned not to say whatever is on my mind. I have learned how to forgive even the deepest of wounds. I have learned not to be so critical and love people where they are. I have learned the joyful touch of my child and that my presence makes him smile. I have learned that a soft word truly does turn away wrath. I have learned to love and respect my husband even when its hard to do so. I have learned to avoid my selfish desires. I have learned that I am in desperate need for organization, accountability and mentorship. I have learned that the ever cracking whip of legalism gets you no where, yet the grace of God sets you free to grow, to actually want to live for Christ, instead of forcing myself to check off boxes in my spiritual discipline book.
Most Importantly, and I cannot stress this one enough. I have truly learned that God is who He says He is. That He will do what He said He will do. That NOTHING not even the tragic death of my beloved sister can separate me form the love of Christ. I have learned that with Him I can walk through fire and Not get burnt. I have learned that the Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower, the righteous run to Him and are safe! I have learned that no weapon formed against me will prosper. I have learned as David did, that He will truly lift me up upon a rock over the heads of my enemies. I have learned that when I walk among the high places that He will make my feet like hinds feet (a goat) so that I can walk it out! I have learned that when I come up against an obstinate nation that He will make my forehead harder than flint (stone.) I have learned that God is near to the broken hearted. And I have learned that the fear of the Lord is the root of all knowledge. I have learned His trustworthiness, His beauty, and His unsurpassingly great glory.
So I say to you through tears even now. 20 is nothing like 30! At thirty I have peace.