Near God’s Heart

A little quiz today—multiple choice:

©iStock.com/John Carnemolla

©iStock.com/John Carnemolla

You come home from work to find that your house is a charred, smoking pile. You learn that some rough-looking dudes burned it down right after they kidnapped your family. How do you respond?

A.  Oh, poor me! Why did this happen to me? Whatever did I do to deserve this?
B.  I demand to know who’s responsible! Mark my words—they’re going to pay!
C.  Oh, well—it was time to turn them all in for new ones anyway.
D.  Oh _(expletive of your choice)! That sound system was brand new!
E.  O God, how do I understand this? What should I do?

If you’ve seen any news on TV lately, you’ve seen numerous cases of people losing homes and/or families to tornadoes. But they’re not unique—the experience of loss is something we’ll all have to deal with at some time in our lives. Whether it’s a pickpocket who steals our money or an illness that steals the life or well-being of someone we love—we will all, because we live on a sinful planet, have something or someone taken from us. The question is not if it will happen, but how we will respond when it does.

So let’s consider some options:

If you chose A, you chose the path of self-pity. It’s perhaps the most common, most human reaction. But this path leads into the dark and pathetic swamp of self-absorption. It’s a lonely place. Even though lots of other people are in that swamp with you, they’re all too absorbed with their own problems to care about you.

If you chose B, you’re into blame and vengeance. This road leads to a dark maze of caves called bitterness. It may not be as densely populated as the swamp of self-indulgence, but it’s a dangerous place, full of wagging tongues and clashing swords.

C was meant as a joke. If you chose it, then I’m afraid there’s no hope for you. Go back to your soap opera.

If you’re trying to decide which expletive to use in D, you’ve gotten lost in the forest of materialism. You’re squirrellishly collecting and hoarding acorns so you can throw a big party to show off your wealth to the other squirrels. The only problem is that when you pull all those hoarded acorns out of their hiding places, they’ll be wormy and rotten. “Stuff” never satisfies us the way we think it will.

If you’re drawn to E, you’re a person after God’s own heart. This was David’s response when he returned from war to find his city burned down (1 Samuel 30). All its inhabitants, including his wives and children, had been kidnapped. Worse, his supporters (who included his brothers) blamed him and wanted to kill him! (They were all into blame and vengeance.)

Yet, with all that weighing on him, David “found strength in the Lord his God” (I Samuel 30:6, HCSB) and sought God’s will (v. 7). This might have been a little late on David’s part; he’d been leading his men through a complex web of deception for some time. But he got around to it eventually. We see this again when David sins with Bathsheba; he continued in that sin for at least a year before he turned to God. But he does turn to God—and that’s what made David special. He seemed to recognize the hard places as a call to check in with God and reexamine his course. Whatever happened, David consistently returned to God.

I can see a little bit of myself in all of these responses. But the place I want to be is in that cozy place near God’s heart. I want to learn to seek Him in every circumstance. How about you?

 “David was in a difficult position because the troops talked about stoning him, for they were all very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God”              (I Samuel 30:6, HCSB).

What do you think?

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