Tuesday, March 23, 2010

To Live as a Prince

"Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high?
Far below him are the heavens and the earth.
He stoops to look, and he lifts the poor from the dirt
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people!"
(Psalm 113:5-8)

I love the story of Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9). God used this story in my life just over three years ago to completely change my heart toward adoption. For a long time, I had thought that adoption was great for other people, but I would never choose to adopt a child myself.

Because of the covenant that David had made with Jonathan to care for his family (1 Samuel 20:42), David sought to find out if there was anyone still alive from Jonathan's family whom he could show kindness to. He discovered that Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, was still alive, so David had him brought to the palace.

In one instant, in King David's presence, a fearful "dead dog" of a crippled man became a prince, to dine forever at the king's table just like his other sons!

God used this passage to open my eyes and see the great gift of a family and a home we could give to an orphan who has no family. He allowed me to see that He has blessed our family with an abundance of love that can overflow to bless more children. He took my eyes off of myself and my fears about all the unknowns of adoption and put my focus on the blessing we could be to an orphan. What a privilege adoption truly is!

So, our family started started the adoption process in March of 2007, and three years later, we're still waiting! Almost two years ago, God gave us the desire to pray for two siblings from Gansu province in western China, so we changed our application request. We are hoping and trusting that the LORD does a miracle in bringing these two siblings into our home. We would love for you to pray with us too!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stop the Cart

David and all the Israelites were full of joy and celebration as they brought the Ark of the LORD into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Then the unthinkable happened. Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark on the cart, and the LORD's anger blazed against him and struck him dead. Can you imagine a scene with a more striking contrast of emotions? A dark cloud of anger and fear quickly swallowed up the joyful music of celebration. And everything was quiet.

Why, God?

During the three months that the Ark detoured to Obed-edom's home, I believe that David wholeheartedly sought the LORD and the Book of the Law. He was determined to discover what had gone wrong! And the LORD graciously brought David out of his confusion by revealing the answer to him. David then responded in obedience, by appointing the proper people (Levites) to carry the Ark, and instructing them to carry it in the proper manner (with poles, not by cart), in order to honor His holiness. The LORD had given clear commands to Moses regarding the Ark , recorded in Numbers 4, that David must have failed to notice the first time.

The day that the Ark was finally brought into Jerusalem, carefully following all the LORD's instructions, David freely danced for joy and sang a beautiful song of thanksgiving to the LORD, which included acknowledging His holiness:

"O nations of the world, recognize the LORD,
recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong.
Give to the LORD the glory He deserves!
Bring your offering and come to worship him.
Worship the LORD in all His holy splendor.
(1 Chronicles 16:28-29)

Oh, how I wish that I could always respond like David in my times of darkness and confusion, and that the LORD could always give such clear answers as He did in this story! But life is not usually so black and white. And I have seen God work out His deeper purposes in my heart through the grayness of uncertainty, as He has asked me to rest in His love and to trust that His way is the best for me, even when I can't understand it.

My biggest personal struggle has been dealing with chronic headaches/migraines for almost half of my life. While this would not be what I would have chosen for my life (if God had let me be in charge!), it is what God has graciously allowed. While He has brought me to a place of overall acceptance of this thorn in my flesh, there are days that I still struggle and ask "Why, God?" Daily, I have the choice to turn my heart toward the LORD, and seek His face and His perfect will for me, or to turn my heart away from Him, and wallow in self-pity.

How do you respond when the LORD stops your cart and you find yourself in a cloud of darkness and confusion?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Looking For the Best

Isn't it amazing that David grieved for Saul when he received the news that he had died in battle? (2 Samuel 1) Saul had set his heart on killing David ever since he realized that the LORD had left him and was with David in everything David did (1 Samuel 18). Jealous anger fueled Saul's pursuit of David, which forced David to hide in caves, as he continually cried out to the LORD to save him.

Twice David had opportunities to kill Saul, and his men even urged him to put a quick end to his enemy, for surely the LORD had put Saul into David's hands. David had responded with, "Don't kill him! For who can remain innocent after attacking the LORD's anointed one? Surely the LORD will strike Saul down someday, or he will die in battle or of old age. But the LORD forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed!" (1 Samuel 26:10-11)

David had already been anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16), but because he had a remarkable respect for Saul as the LORD's anointed, he was willing to wait for the LORD to bring an end to Saul's life. He would not choose the way that would have made his life easier because he believed it was wrong. David trusted that the LORD knew what was best, even when it must have been incredibly hard to make sense of all the difficulties that he faced at the hand of Saul.

I believe that these years of hiding from Saul were a significant part of the training period that the LORD used in David's life to prepare him to lead the nation of Israel, that enabled David to be remembered as the man after the LORD's own heart. Throughout all of the difficulites in his life, David was truly able to rest in the LORD's will for him. He steadfastly refused to take matters into his own hands, and the LORD blessed him with eyes to see the good in Saul.

David wrote many songs and psalms throughout his life, and he composed a significant funeral song for Saul and his son Jonathan, highlighting the good in both of their lives (2 Samuel 1). It is not difficult to imagine David finding praise for Jonathan, who had been his best friend in life. But, to praise the man who had tried for years to kill him is a very different story! Putting myself in David's shoes, I'm sure that I would have felt immense relief that Saul was finally gone and my years of hiding from him over. I can imagine that criticisms for Saul would have easily fallen from my tongue. David, however, wanted the Israelites to focus on the good as they remembered their first king.

Our family came up with a motto a few years ago: "In the Pine family we think the best of and want the best for each other." We are striving for this to be true, but it is a definite challenge for us to live this motto out!

We long to be like David who was able to think the best of and want the best for Saul. His perspective could only have come from the LORD Himself.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Armor Doesn't Fit

David, as a boy, had the courage to fight a giant. He was determined to regain the honor of His God, whom Goliath had haughtily slandered. He fully believed that God would give him the ability to fight and to gain victory for His people. Young David alone had this confidence, as he arrived on the battle scene to find the entire Israelite army (including King Saul) paralyzed with fear for a full 40 days before the intimidating Golaith and surrounding Philistine army.

Saul reluctantly agreed that David could take on the giant, but insisted that he must wear Saul's own armor.

David tried on the armor, but because he was not used to it, he took it off again. He was a shepherd boy, so he picked up five smooth stones from the stream and went out to face the hulking form of Goliath with his slingshot.

And he won.

I look at my children and somehow think that in the arena of faith, they need to "look like me." Yet, I am learning that their faith is their own, and that right now they are children who are growing into the people God has creatively made them to be. Not unlike David when he fought the giant. They don't want to wear the armor that I wear because it doesn't fit them.

I desire to grow as a Mom, in being able to come alongside and affirm each of my children in their own steps of faith, as they choose their own stones from the stream. I want to believe with them that their God can equip them for their battles in ways that I would never imagine.

I'm glad that my armor doesn't fit them.

(1 Samuel 17)


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