Monday, December 28, 2009

Obeying When It Doesn't Make Sense (2 Kings 4)

I want everything to make sense.
I want to know what God is doing and how he is doing it.
I want to know how everything is going to turn out.

That's not how God works most of the time.
Most of the time God says move, and we have a choice . . .
Obey or disobey.

Sometimes we question whether or not we hear God's voice clearly--

In the days of Second Kings, Elisha spoke for God. I suppose on some level that might have been easier. He had a pretty good track record. The Bible doesn't record any instances where Elisha heard God's voice incorrectly. But we know this in retrospect. After all, we have the Bible, and the people of those days didn't. They argue with him, they accuse him of creating negative prophecies, as if could manufacture the future with his words, they try to put him to death to silence him.

Okay. Not easier. We listen, we obey, we move by faith. Faith in who God is.

In this passage, a widow goes to Elisha and tells him that the creditors are about to come and take her sons to settle a debt. Her husband had been one of the prophets who followed Elisha around.

Elisha asks her how he can help. What do you have in your house?

It seems like an odd question. If she had anything of value, she would sell it and keep her children.

Instead of questioning him, she says, nothng except a little oil.
Now Elisha tells her to go to all the neighbors and ask for empty jars. "Don't ask for just a few," he says.

She begins filling up the jars with the little bit of oil, and the oil keeps flowing until all the jars are full. She is able to sell the oil, pay off the creditors, and then live on the rest of the money and raise her children.

Can you imagine if she had questioned the prophet and only gotten a few jars? Or if she had said, "You're crazy," and done nothing? Or if she had resigned herself to her fate and not gone to the prophet for help>

How many times do I ask for too little because of my lack of faith?

How many times do I disobey because I don't understand or because I don't believe God can move on my behalf, on behalf of my family?
How many times do I fail to even ask God to intervene?

Worship and Hearing the Voice of God (2 Kings 3)

Beyond the most well known kings, like Saul, David, Solomon, and Ahab, it's really hard to keep track of which ones served the Lord and which ones didn't. Part of the problem is that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are both descendants of Abraham so there are lots of kings. The other difficulty is that even the kings who commit to serving the Lord fail to tear down the high places. There's a lot of evil going on.

And they're always going to war.

2 Kings 3 begins with Jehoshophat (king of Judah), Joram (son of Ahab, king of Israel--who is in Samaria--haven't figured that one out yet), and the king of Edom going to war against the king of Moab. There's no mention of them asking God's advice before setting out against Moab, but once they are out in the desert, they run out of water, and now they ask God for help.

Jehoshophat asks, "Isn't there a prophet of the Lord here?"
Elisha just happens to be on the scene.

The king of Israel asks Elisha to speak to God, and this is where it gets interesting to me.
Elisha asks for a harpist.

As he listens to the music, as he worships the Lord through song, the hand of the Lord comes upon Elisha and he hears the word of the Lord.
I'm not surprised.

Music transcends logic.
It reaches into our souls, where God's Spirit speaks without the limitations of words, where we experience true worship.

I write about this phenomenon in my journals and I feel it in my heart, but sometimes I wonder if I am alone in my perception. Or I wonder if worship music is a crutch. Should I be able to worship God without music?

The writer of 2 Kings records this incident with Elisha.
Worship acts as a conductor of God's Spirit.
It leads us into God's presence so that we can hear His voice.

The NIV Study Bible says that the harp creates a "disposition conducive to receiving the word of the Lord." (see note on 2 Kings 3:15)

God created music, and it is far more complex than seven full steps in multiple octaves.
The rabbi Abraham Heschel taught that music is the only language compatible with the wonder and mystery of being. He wrote that music is "not an end in itself, but a means of religious experience."

I want to hear God's voice . . .
How can I incorporate more music into my devotional life?

Reading through the Bible

I don't know how long it's been since I read through the entire Bible. I think I've done it in the past, but maybe never. I'm pretty sure I've read every book at least once, but in the Old Testament maybe not.

So sometime last fall I decided to read the Book, starting in Genesis. I have been journaling some of my thoughts. Who knew there was so much good stuff in Numbers?! About that time, I began wishing that I had been putting my reflections into a blog.

In retrospect, I should have gone ahead and started doing that right away, but I decided not to because then any reflections would have been incomplete. And if I started blogging and then added the thoughts from earlier journal entries, those thoughts would be out of order, and out of order seems so wrong. So I kept journaling and reading along.

I'm in 2 Kings now.
Every book, every chapter speaks to me.
I just want to record those thoughts so I can find them again.
Maybe I'll go back and find the stuff I wrote before, but maybe not. The way my schedule has been lately, I doubt it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Choosing Good versus Best

I couldn't sleep very well last night.
It's not unusual for my sleep to be punctuated by hours of thought, but usually I have a hard time focusing. This time I was very focused.

I am scheduled to attend a class in Irvine--a class I really do want to attend. It will totally help with CVSOM and so there is definite benefit.

On the other hand, if I go, I have no time to finish grading my students' Project 1 papers and I get behind on my homework. More than I already am. It means that I will spend Sunday afternoon and evening doing homework instead of taking a day off.

I paid money for the class, and I hate to waste the money.
There is a benefit to taking the class.
There are disadvantages.

It is good to keep my eyes on my ultimate goals and not get distracted by other things.
A few years ago I realized I primarily define myself as writer and teacher.
I need to focus on that.

I believe I'm choosing the best versus the good.
It's hard because I tend to think I can do EVERYTHING!

I can't.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Sometimes I feel like I am walking on a treadmill.

I cover the same territory over and over again, experience the same fears, and struggle through the same difficulties.

I ask myself the same questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Is there something wrong with me that I'm not making any progress?
  • Does life really have to be so hard?
  • Isn't there a better way?

I keep trying to figure things out, but I don't have solutions, and I'm tired.

I want to jump off.

I've done that on a treadmill before. Accidentally.

I ended up with bruises and abrasions, and I felt really stupid. I should have been paying attention. Hanging on to the bar instead of closing my eyes and enjoying the walk.

Or maybe the treadmill of life is different.

Maybe I should let go of the what ifs and the constant problem solving and give my questions to God.

Maybe I just need to close my eyes, trust God, and keep moving.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm back . . .

It was a nice thought. Blogging.

I had no idea how hard the semester would be. I had no idea how much reading I would have to do.

I didn't expect to read so much. Or write so much.
I didn't expect to need to learn a new vocabulary.
I didn't expect to be so panicked over every paper.
I didn't expect to do so well.

I didn't expect to struggle spiritually or to have so many adjustments in every level of my life.
I didn't expect to have my life turned upside-down.

I'm no longer the church secretary.
I'm the director of a School of Ministry at CVCF.
I'm teaching a class at SDSU.

I'm moving.
I'm fighting fear.
I'm not sure where I'll end up at the end of the program.
But I'm moving.