A Fearsome Possibility

Spielberg’s Jaws scared me more than Tolkien’s orcs. I shudder to think about what Spielberg could have done to Jaws if the special effects capabilities available to filmmakers today existed back when he created his infamous killer shark. I probably would have never stepped in the ocean again. I’ve always felt safer with fantasy. In fantasy you can comfortably assure yourself that nothing like this could ever happen. But thrillers about killer sharks, spiders, and viruses are another issue altogether. Those shows leave me looking over my shoulder for a swarm of bees or some other menacing insect looking to colonize my home.

Here’s something else that scares me–something that has happened to others. Starting well and finishing poorly. Case in point: King Solomon. He amazes me–and sobers me. Here is a man to whom God granted the singular privilege of building His temple here on earth. Even King David was not allowed the honor of doing so. Solomon was spoken to by God, blessed by God, allowed to work for God, and saw God’s glory fill the temple. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. But for all that Solomon did, for all that He saw of God’s power and majesty, he didn’t end well. He spent the latter part of his life more in love with women than with God. I Kings 11 tells us,”4For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after  Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.” All this happened because he disobeyed God’s command to not take foreign wives. Why would he do this? Maybe he thought he was too strong to be tempted by their religions. What is clear, however, is that Solomon “clung to them [his wives] in love.” ( I Kings 11) At some point his love for God waned. Maybe it was never that strong. Only Solomon and God know.

I want to end well. My take-away from King Solomon’s life is to continue to pray like David did:

23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139

Only God can give me the grace to resist loving this world. And wonderfully enough, God wants to help us do just that! Jesus says that all who ask will receive. So Heavenly Father, in the name of your Son, I ask you to make me faithful. Do as You promised for You have said, ” He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

6So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. 7Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem.” I Kings 11.

Enduring Obedience

I write having failed in this area not two hours ago.  I should have been up at five. However, when my alarm went off my half-awake self started talking to my good intentions. It’s still dark. You didn’t sleep well last night. Just one more half hour. You deserve it. I yielded to the siren call of sleep and woke two hours later. Wow, Elizabeth. What a fighter you are. I definitely did not obey what I felt the Lord wanted me to do. One thing I certainly did NOT do today–endure obedience.

Have you ever thought of obedience as something to endure? I usually think of obedience in terms of making the right decision at any moment in time. Enduring obedience takes this to a higher level. It’s making the right decisions faithfully over a long period of time and bearing any pain that comes because of it. Hebrews says of Jesus Christ, “that7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”. Jesus didn’t learn how to obey, he was sinless, but he learned or experienced what it was to obey to the uttermost. Because he did it perfectly, he became our perfect high priest, able to save because of his sinless sacrifice and able to sympathize with us in all our temptations. Jesus endured his incarnation and his obedience won salvation for us all!

So, are you enduring something now? Is being obedient exacting a high price? Are you a parent, who needs to be faithful in the never-ending cycle of housework, meal preparation and child care? Do you have to go to a job you don’t like day after day in order to provide for you family? Do you have to care for someone who is sick? Do you have to face the work of overcoming an addiction? You’re in good company. Jesus knows what it is like to obey and to do it for a really long time. Don’t give up! Talk to Him when it is hard…He knows! Remember that if you are His, you belong to a great company of others who have endured too.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)