Don’t you just love it when you’re meditating on something you read in the bible and God smacks you upside the head to drive the point home?
Christmas was several weeks ago. As an early Christmas present, I got an amazing new bible that offers theological commentary on scriptures. As Christmas Eve dawned, I spent the early portion of the evening sitting in my room and reading the story of Jesus’ birth. Cliché, but in a world full of materialism, it NEVER hurts to focus on why we celebrate in the first place.
I got to Matthew 1, which offers a brief account of the story and began to read through the genealogy of Jesus. While Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father, he was born into his family and had the honor of raising Him as his own Son. As the chapter begins, we start reading about the bloodline that led to Joseph.
It all starts with Abram (later renamed Abraham.) No surprise there, but as the lineage continues, I couldn’t help but notice that this “awesome new bible” was offering a little more commentary than I was used to seeing. After Abraham was Isaac, after Isaac was Jacob, but then we get to one of Jacob’s 12 sons, Judah.
Now, most of the time, we skim past the genealogies quickly to get to the “meaty” stuff. Little do we realize, there is A LOT of meaty stuff in the genealogies…
The commentary beside the scripture noted that Tamar was the mother of Judah’s two kids. “Seems innocent enough,” I thought to myself, “I don’t see why they’d feel the need to point that out, but whatever.” Curiosity got the best of me, so I flipped over to Genesis 38 and started reading the account of Judah and Tamar. Turns out, Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law. “Okay,” I thought, “that kinda weird.”
Ha. Ha-ha. Hahahahaha. It gets better.
Tamar was married to one of Judah’s sons, but because this son was so wicked in the eyes of God, he ended up dying without having any kids, which back in that day, was a huge deal. Judah then told his second son to marry Tamar, that she might get pregnant and have a baby in honor of his brother.
I’m gonna let you read Genesis 38:9-10 to find out what happens. No really. Go read it. Then try telling me the bible is boring.
In a nutshell, Tamar wasn’t getting pregnant anytime soon. As this all unfolded, Judah’s wife dies, and he starts to get lonely. VERY lonely. Instead of joining a nice single seniors group at his church, he decides he’s gonna go solicit some street woman for sex. *Facepalm*
Little does he realize that the woman he’s soliciting is actually Tamar dressed like a harlot. Tired of being embarrassed by the fact that she’s a childless widow and having a deep hatred for her father-in-law, she decided to get back at him by having his baby. Long story short, she gets pregnant, he finds out it was his daughter-in-law, barfs (I would assume) and then she goes on to have twins.
“Ooooooookay,” I nodded, “onto the next part of this genealogy, please.”
As the family lineage continues in Matthew, you don’t go much further before you get to another slice of commentary pointing out that Rahab—the Canaanite prostitute who helped the children of Israel—was Boaz’s mother.
“How did I NOT know that?” I thought, shocked, as I went on reading. Boaz married Ruth, together they had Obed, Obed had Jesse and Jesse had David. No real shocker there either. Then it goes on to point out yet another stark reminder…
“David gave birth to Solomon through his wife Bathsheba, who was married to Uriah but she had an affair with David, so David had Uriah killed.”
This was starting to sound less and less like the bible and more like an episode of Maury Povich.
David’s story isn’t unfamiliar. He screwed up big time and paid the price for it. Yet even after what he did, he was still a man after God’s own heart and God forgave him, because of that, his son Solomon was born and became the King. Regardless, Solomon screwed up too and ended up causing a whole bunch of ruckus in the kingdom. So much so, that when HIS son became King, the kingdom split in two. *Facepalm*
The lineage goes on, and finally, through a lengthy list of corrupt Kings and shady figures, we finally get to Joseph—the adoptive father of Jesus.
“Well, that was a painful journey towards Christmas,” I sighed, sipping my cocca and singing jolly carols.
Skip ahead a few weeks. I’m reading through this same commentary bible when I get to Genesis 12, where it talks about Abram and Sarai leaving their home to go to Canaan as God had instructed them to. In the commentary bracket, it talks about how Abram told his wife to pretend she was his sister, because if the brute inhabitants of the land saw how beautiful she was and knew he was married to her, they’d kill him so they could have her.
“Which wasn’t really a lie,” the commentary stated, “seeing as in Genesis 20, Abram admits that he and Sarai really are half siblings. Same father, different mother.”
SHUT. THE FRONT. DOOR.
Okay. For realsies? I’ve read Genesis dozens of times. How did I miss that they were related?! It’s not like it makes a difference now, but still? *Facepalm*
As I pondered on this, the Christmas episode with the genealogies came flooding back to me, and I began thinking…
Thought #1: “You will NEVER, EVER, EVER see these things in a Precious Moments Bible.”
Thought #2: “Jesus, You came from a REALLY screwed up family.”
That’s when it hit me: Maybe that was the point.
I find it funny that God used some of the most un-precious moments in history to lead us to the most precious moment in of all… Jesus being born. His bloodline included harlots, hookers, murderers, thieves, liars, backstabbers, drunks and slanderers. Then there was Jesus. Perfect, spotless, sinless Jesus. Who came to die, and not only redeem the lives of everyone who called upon Him, but redeemed His own bloodline in the process. (Don’t you just love how God does that?!)
Jesus had the ultimate dysfunctional family. Chances are, you can relate. Maybe not as drastic as some, but you’ve probably seen a few rotten seeds fall from the family tree. It doesn’t matter. God doesn’t care where you come from. Just like Jesus, redemption starts with you.
It doesn’t matter what legacy you come from, you don’t have to be who the people before you were. God made you with a specific plan (John 15:16). You serve an incredible purpose because you are loved by an incredible God. All it takes is one choice… to live that purpose you were created for.
God can take the ugliest thing and make it new and beautiful (Romans 8:28). You have the ability to revolutionize the path of generations. Much like the redemption that took place from the garden to the cross, one healthy seed from a decaying tree changes everything.
God likes to throw stuff on me when I’m not expecting it.
Case: I was walking through a bookstore a few days ago, minding my own business, admiring the breathtaking stained glass windows on the ceiling, when I heard a distinctly prophetic word come from out of nowhere.
“Even the King had to wait to be King.”
…yeah, that was my reaction too.
I spent the next several minutes sitting down behind one of the tables in the coffee shop of said bookstore, praying and trying to capture what exactly that phrase meant. Soaking in the silence of the quaint shop, suddenly, it hit me.
David. The King was David.
And in an instant, I had one of those breakdown, no way, “Really, God? Here and NOW?” moments where I had to fight back tears and swallow my skeptical, stubborn and unbelieving pride.
There are major moments in the life of David we focus on because they teach us so much about his character. Being a shepherd boy, slaying Goliath, running from Saul, being crowed, screwing up royally with Bathsheba (no pun intended), and ultimately, handing off the throne to his son, Solomon.These are all great moments—some remarkable and some shameful—but I think we ignore a major season in his life that he walked through, just because the bible doesn’t but a big red circle around it like most of the others.
The season where David served.
Saul was King over Israel at this point. He started off a relatively great guy, but over the course of his reign, things began to deteriorate. More so, his relationship with God began to deteriorate. The crown got to his head (another unintentional pun), and before long, he was making his own decisions. Defying what God was telling him to do over what was more profitable in his own sight. It says God even went so far as to regret making Saul the King of Israel.
You’ve gotta be doing something pretty dang horrible for God to regret using you.
Not wanting a man like this to rule over His people, God sent His servant Samuel on a journey to find and anoint a new King, a King who would do right in the sight of God and obey His commandments. So Samuel gets to Bethlehem and finds a guy named Jesse who has four sons. Jesse introduces his three eldest boys to Samuel first. All three of them are mighty, rugged, Kingly looking guys who seemed like they’d do an excellent job representing the throne (then again, at this point, anyone was lookin’ better than Saul.)
God denied the three men, and told Samuel that He wasn’t interested in a man who looked like a King, He wanted someone who had the heart of a King… His heart.
Samuel is then led to Jesse’s youngest son, a shepherd named David. Taking one look at David, Samuel was probably unimpressed. Unlike his older, masculine, war-torn brothers, David was a teenage pretty boy who played the harp and to sang to sheep. What made him different than his brothers however, was that unlike them, he was relentlessly pursing God. He was hungry on a daily basis to become more like Him, and reckless in following His commandments.
Taking a flask of oil, Samuel then anointed David as King over all Israel. The Spirit of God that had once rested upon Saul, was transferred in that moment to the young shepherd boy from Bethlehem.
Here is where the story gets me.
Although David was technically in command, it would be another few decades before he ever sat on a throne, wore a crown or was acknowledged by the Israelites as their King. In-between herding the sheep and heralding the monarchy, there was a silent season of servitude.
David played several roles in Saul’s kingdom shortly after he was anointed. He became the private musician to a restless Saul after the Spirit of God left him (for David, ironically), and after he bravely went up and killed Goliath, he spent the next several years as the general in Saul’s military. Everyone loved David. Saul’s kingdom, Saul’s army, Saul’s kids, everyone that is, except Saul himself.
Numerous times, Saul tried to have him killed and make it look like an accident. Attempts that were, not surprisingly, unsuccessful. Still, David honored his King, and most importantly, honored his God. David was aware of who he was. There was no mistaking the Spirit of God was upon him and that one day, he’d rule over Israel, but until that day, he’d selflessly serve King Saul at whatever capacity he could, even if that King Saul wasn’t really the King at all.
David’s story mirrors that of another King who faced a lagging delay between His anointing and His throne. This King however, was the King of Kings. Jesus.
Jesus was born to be King over all the world, replacing a realm of darkness thousands of years in the making. Just hours after being born, shepherds worshiped Him, and at age 30, after being baptized, the same Spirit of God that rested upon his ancestor, David, rested upon Him as well. You’d think, after all his, He would have taken His rightful place at the right hand of God.
You’d be wrong.
Although He was King, the throne tarried. For three years, He spent His life serving others. Healing the sick, talking to the misfits and preaching to the masses. He was loved, He was hated and He was humble. He washed the feet of those He called ‘brothers’ and was turned upon by the very ones who called Him ‘Master.’ You can’t help but wonder as He hung upon that broken and bloody cross, dying in the most torturous way man could imagine, if He thought He might have missed something. The belly of hell screamed His name, mocking His crown, saying His efforts had been in vain.
“You are no King”, I can imagine the demons laughed. Hope for humanity, and the throne, seemed lost.
Plot twist: The battle wasn’t over.
Just as God finally removed Saul from the picture, He removed death from that of Jesus’. By rising again three days later, Jesus took his rightful place as King. The kingdom of darkness trembled as it collapsed to the ground in reverence of its new Authority. Death had lost and redemption had been found. Once more, the rightful King ruled over all the earth. As He still does.
This relates to us in SO many ways.
God hardly ever hands His promises over as soon as He makes them. For reasons we can only see in hindsight, He makes us wait for them. Just like the time between the anointing and the throne, there is a period of servitude we’re called to. A period that can be both beautiful and uncomfortable, a period where it hurts, a period where we have to serve “Kings” who are far from noble to us.
It’s in our patience, that those demons try to tell us the same thing they told Jesus in that we’re foolish. We begin to doubt God and question His faithfulness. We argue with ourselves and wonder if the promise we cling to—the invisible throne awaiting us—is even worth it.
No good thing comes overnight. When a promise is made, there is almost always a prerequisite, especially with God.
Though your promise lags, and you find yourself in a season where you’re smack dab in-between your past and your future, do not let go of the hope God has given you. In the end, it will speak so much louder than any whispering demon or unruly predecessor.
God will do what He says He’ll do. Though you wait, He moves. And the throne awaits.
It starts to happen when you lose perspective on what matters.
Discouragement. Discouragement over drudgery.
If you’re anything like me, you’re a dreamer. Not just a dreamer, but a BIG dreamer. The thought of just writing the book doesn’t satisfy me. I wanna write the book, sell a million copies, cast the movie and plan the soundtrack.
I dream big. I dream big, because I want to do big things God.
You might think, “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do big things for God.” And you’d be right. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
The problem begins when we slip into divine discontentment. The time between our big dreams, and our mundane reality.
I broke down while washing the dishes a few days ago. Big, snotty, ugly cry and all.
“This isn’t right!” I’d tell myself, “I need to be doing so much more! I need to be doing something important! I need to be winning souls! I need to be moving mountains! I need to be serving God!”
Yet there I was—no book, no movie— standing over a sink of hot, soapy water, wondering where the heck in my mere 21-years I’d gone wrong with my life.
“This isn’t the plan. Wasn’t I supposed to do something significant by now? What about all those scriptures that say I’m not too young? Or that nothing is impossible? What about all the Joseph’s and David’s and Esther’s who changed the world? God, I feel like I’m failing You.”
I looked at the mundane list of things around me that needed to be done that day—washing the dishes, sorting the laundry, cleaning the toilet— and never before had I felt like such a disappointment in the eyes of God.
I felt like George Bailey.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” is pretty much my favorite movie. I could seriously sit down and watch it every night for the rest of my life and not get tired of it, and it’s not just because Jimmy and Donna are ah-freaking-dorable.
The character of George Bailey wanted to do something big and important with his life. He wanted to travel the world and build enormous skyscrapers that changed the face of the world, but somewhere along the way, he got sucked into a life he hated. His good spirited nature led him to a life full of ordinary tasks. Tasks he never pictured himself doing, tasks that were, in his eyes, unimportant.
He, much like myself, fancied his life worthless.
After wrestling with suicide and a divine appointment, what I love about the end of the film is that what the audience sees in George Bailey the entire movie, he finally sees in himself. He realizes that had he not done all those so-called “unimportant” tasks, the world, or at least a small portion of it, wouldn’t have been the same. He HAD in fact done something big and important with his life, and it wasn’t by traveling the world or building an enormous skyscraper either—it was by simply serving those around him through the smallest of chores.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a master who is leaving for a long trip, so he entrusts three of his servants with his money, each of them given an amount that matched their abilities. The first two men invested their money wisely, and were able to give their master twice as much in return. The third man however, the one given the least amount of money, buried it for the fear he might lose it. When the master returned, he was furious because of this lazy servant’s lack of profit.
The master ultimately took the remainder of his money and cast the servant into the darkness, saying, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.”
We often dedicate our gifts and talents to use for the glory of God, and that’s great, but how often do we offer our time and ability to really get down and dirty and SERVE Him?
Jesus was the ultimate example of this. Yes, He did something big and important with His life, He DIED for us, but His life wasn’t just one epic moment of sacrifice. It was a continuous series of menial serving that led Him to the ultimate goal of changing the world.
It was doing the dishes. It was sorting the laundry. It was scrubbing the toilets.
I’ve challenged myself with this question: Am I going to settle for discontentment in the mundane, or am I going to thank God for the opportunity to serve by getting into the dirt and washing the feet of those around me?
This doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams. God won’t give you a desire just to ruthlessly rip it out and see you suffer. He’s asking us, while we wait in the drab, uncomfortable middle-ground between our dreams and our reality, to be like those who didn’t loose heart and received all that was promised to them,
—Like Joseph, who became a leader after he was a prisoner
—Like David, who became King after he was a shepherd
—Like Esther, who became a Queen after she was a orphan
—Like Jesus, who became a Savior after being a servant.
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”