David the Patient

I don’t even dare to think of all the sermons, lessons, and words that have been spoken and written about David. David the shepherd. David the king. David, the giant slayer. David, the man after God’s own heart. David the underdog. There’s so much we can say about David because we know so much about him. As readers of the Bible, we have the privilege of seeing David at his best and worst and knowing that God loved him just as much at his lowest as He did at his highest. David’s life was filled with many mountains and valleys, and his relationship with God was remarkable.

David was merely a shepherd. He was a son of Jesse and had brothers who looked far more kingly than he did, but David was the one God told Samuel to anoint as future king. This did not inherently upset the reigning king, Saul. Saul loved David like a son until David defeated Goliath when Saul would not, and the people of the kingdom loved David and hated Saul. When we join them in 1 Samuel 24, we see that Saul wants David dead. He’s hunting him. Well, Saul and 3,000 of his men.

But David has men of his own, and when they’re surrounding the cave that Saul is in at that very moment using the bathroom, they tell David to go for it. God has promised David that He would deliver his enemy into his hands for him to do to his enemy as he sees fit.

David has Saul in the most vulnerable waking position, and no guard is in there to protect him. Now, I don’t know about you, but I never get this sort of golden opportunity, so had I been among David’s men, I would’ve told him the exact same thing.

So what does David do? He cuts a piece off of Saul’s robe instead of killing him. And get this: David feels bad about doing even that much.

This speaks not only to the patience of David – being willing to wait for the right time to become king and be avenged – but also to how wise David was – knowing the way in which God would fulfill His promise and how to handle it. When most people would’ve killed Saul for vengeance alone and then even moreso with an impending kingship with the support of the people, David showed Saul mercy.

David explains himself to his men and asks them not to attack Saul. Saul leaves the cave, and David yells after him. He bows before Saul, says that he doesn’t want to hurt him, despite what people say, because Saul is anointed by God. He shows Saul the bit of robe he cut off to show that he could’ve killed him but didn’t. David tells him that God will judge between the two of them and will avenge David, but it won’t be by David’s hand. All the while, David refers to him as “lord” and “father.”

And when David is finished, Saul calls him “son.” In 1 Samuel 24:17-20 (KJV), Saul says, “Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. And thou hast shown this day that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.” Then Saul asks that David not cut off his lineage, which David obliges, and they go their separate ways.

David could’ve killed Saul and rushed God’s promise that he would be king, but he knew it was better to wait on God’s timing for David’s reign. He knew it was better to wait for Saul’s death to occur as it would have than for him to end his life. This patience proved David’s trust in God and his love for Saul. And it made Saul realize how foolish he’d been and how incredible of a king David would be.

David was quite an underdog. He was on the run from a jealous king who couldn’t face his own faults and wanted David dead. And when the door was open to take matters into his own hands, he decided to wait on God. When he was telling Saul how he’d spared his life, David didn’t smirk and turn the bit of Saul’s robe over in his fingers, saying, “You really should thank me for not killing you.” He bowed and spoke humbly, only wanting Saul to know that he didn’t kill him because that wasn’t in any way his desire.

It’s hard not to take matters into our own hands, especially if you’re an underdog who feels like you’ve just been thrown a bone. But know that if God has promised, He’ll come through because He is faithful. Don’t give up. Don’t mess it up by taking it into your own hands. Be like David, and let God work.

By Carrie Prevette

Pharisees and Tax Collectors

I remember sitting in Sunday School back home sometime around my freshman year in college. I remember talking about loving our enemies.

The teacher asked, directing the question at no one in particular, “Do you pray for your enemies?”

Immediately, a few particular people came to mind, and these people had really hurt me. (Christians who spent their time making me feel like scum and judging me for not being exactly like them.) As it turns out, I had been praying for them. I said, “Yes.”

The teacher, who has always believed me to be only a kind, lovely person, smiled and replied, “Carrie, you’re not really helping my example. When you pray for them, what do you pray?”

“I pray that they would see how wrong they are.”

Not that God would open all of our eyes and reveal His truth and His heart to us. Not that He would heal them that they may heal others and not harm them. Not that God would help them or bless them or fill their lives with hope and peace and love. None of that.

I wanted God, who can do anything, to show them that I was right and they were wrong. My prayers sounded exactly like those of a five year old.

Part of it was that I legitimately wanted them to learn that their actions were both unbiblical and hurting people. They intended to help God’s Kingdom but were actually having the opposite effect. But I think more than that, I wanted a heartfelt, genuine apology from them without having to make the first move in order to get one.

My deeper understanding of the situation and the hurt I felt led me to a place of bitterness, judgment (Isn’t that ironic?), and arrogance.

In Luke 18:9-14, we find Jesus talking to people who have rode in on their high horses. He tells them a parable of two men at the temple, one a Pharisee and one a tax collector. The Pharisee thanks God that he’s not like other people and tells God about all the things he does for Him. The tax collector, who couldn’t even bring himself to look up to heaven, asked God to be merciful to him, the sinner that he was. Jesus says in verse 14, “I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted” (NRSV).

If our prayers consist of comparing ourselves to others, they’re wrong from the start. God understands our hurt and all of the side effects of it, but it’s a different thing altogether to bring a third party into our relationship with Him.

No matter how much harm they’ve done to you, don’t look down on others; God loves them too. They’re made in His image too. Don’t judge them because they’re living their lives differently than you live yours.

It’s really a matter of getting over ourselves. We always hear about how God loves us; if He had a wallet, our pictures would be in it; if He had a fridge, our drawings and report cards would be up there for everyone to see. And it’s all true. It’s all incredibly true. But what we don’t think about is how God loves everyone that much. He loves the rude man at the DMV just as much, the stupid woman at work just as much, and the family member who is always on your case just as much. And He loves your enemies just as much as He loves you.

He doesn’t love them for the damage they do. He loves them in spite of it.

And before you get mad about it, remember that He loves you in spite of a lot of things you do. We’ve all thrown proverbial punches in our time. Remember that while it’s not fair, that we all have been thankful for how much God’s grace overrides fairness. To ask for fairness, we’d be giving up a lot that we actually want.

Your relationship with God regards only you and God. While He cares about our spats and cuts, He wants to heal and help, not play referee in the little games we create and find ourselves in. Praying for your enemies to prosper will change your outlook towards your enemy and possibly their outlook towards you. You’ll be leaving any vengeance and consequences up to God. We need to stop putting people down and stop looking down on them. Being hurt or being conceited doesn’t make someone better than anyone else.

By Carrie Prevette

The Humble and the Broken

Sometimes we lose sight of what the church really is and always has been.

A lot of people either have opinions of Christians that are too high or too low. Being a Christian doesn’t mean someone’s a saint. If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, be it through this blog or in person, you’ll know that’s the truth. Being a Christian also doesn’t mean that someone is the scum of the earth. I know people who’ve had bad experiences with Christians, and they let that affect their view of all Christians. While we may not be perfect, not all of us are terrible people either.

The church is supposed to be a sanctuary. It’s a safe haven for people who need rest, help, and healing. Sure, we may turn it into other things, but that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a home for the humble and the broken.

I know 30-some posts doesn’t seem like that much, but it feels like it is, and I’m actually going to use some scripture I’ve used before. In my defense, it’s one of my favorite pieces of scripture (so my mind kind of goes right to it when the opportunity presents itself) and it’s just as relevant now as it was the first post I used it in.

Luke 7:36-50 finds Jesus in yet another spat with a Pharisee. Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner at his house. Jesus likes dinner parties and the Pharisees were sort of baffled by and curious about Jesus in the beginning, so the situation isn’t too surprising. A woman with a bad reputation makes her way to the dinner, despite not being on what I’m sure was an exclusive guest list, and more specifically, she makes her way to Jesus.

She weeps at Jesus’ feet. Then she wipes up her tears with her own hair. She kisses His feet and puts perfume (or ointment depending on which translation you read) on His feet.

Simon doesn’t like it one bit. “…wah, wah, wah. If you were who you say you are, Jesus, you would’ve jumped and ran when she touched you. Blah, blah, blah…”

And Jesus being the hero He is jumps to her rescue. He tells a parable of two debtors, one of whom owed ten times more than the other. Neither could pay, so the lender cancelled both debts. Jesus asks Simon who will love the lender more. Simon supposes it’d be the one who owed the most.

Jesus tells Simon he’s correct then points out how everything the woman has done is what Simon should have done according to the customs of welcoming someone into one’s home in those days but failed to do. Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (7:47, ESV). Despite the whispers of the other people at the table, Jesus tells the woman she is forgiven and saved and to go in peace.

Put yourself in the woman’s shoes for a minute. You go to this dinner that you’re not invited to and you know no one except Jesus will be happy to see you, but you need to go. This could be your only chance. When you get there, you interact with Jesus in very intimate ways – tears, skin, hair, perfume. Then Simon brings up your reputation. So much disdain and disgust in his voice. Not that you didn’t see all this coming, but it only softens the blow so much. Maybe you look down as he says it or maybe you just look at Jesus. After all, He knows. He knows what you’ve done and what it took for you to get here. He also knows why you’re here.

I imagine Jesus’ demeanor was calm but His eyes had a glint of anger and defensiveness in them for a moment.

So Jesus comes to your defense. Instead of pointing out what you’ve done wrong, He talks about what you’ve done right. He explains, since everyone else is clueless, why you’re doing all of this. Because He gets it. He knows, and He understands, and He’s not rejecting you.

When He tells you that you’re forgiven, He speaks in present tense. He doesn’t speak like you used to sin and you won’t anymore. He speaks like you’ll mess up again, but when you do, forgiveness will still be there. He knows your past, but He directs you to the future. Then He tells you you’re saved and to go in peace. He offers you peace, and for once, you actually feel it.

Now, I told you to put yourself in the woman’s shoes, but for some, I didn’t have to. You didn’t need to put yourselves there because you’ve already been there.

The specifics might not be the same, but in a vaguer or general sense, that’s you. You know the whispers, sideways glances, and judgmental tones. You’re familiar with the shame and embarrassment of someone saying it out loud. And it’s bad, but sometimes it’s not nearly as bad as what you say to yourself or put yourself through.

If you’re like me, you love Luke 7:36-50 because when Jesus defends the woman, it’s like He’s defending you.

When Alan first told me the concept behind his sermon for Sunday (which this post is based off of for those of you who weren’t there/haven’t listened to it), I told him that it’s a cycle.

Everyone breaks. If you don’t, you’re either a robot or a superhuman, and you should tell someone (but not the government). We all have tough times and periods of time when we just stop trying to win because we just know that we can’t win. Psalm 147:3 (ESV) says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” The word “brokenhearted” can easily be replaced with just “broken” here. God formed us and put us together once, and He’ll do it every time as needed if we ask Him.

But when things turn around, it’s important to stay humble because we remember where we’ve been and that we’ll eventually be broken again. We didn’t pull ourselves together. God put us back together. The humble are the ones who sympathize with the broken. They may be well now, but they remember what it’s like to not be well. And they don’t take a bit of credit for their rise because everything miraculous about it is God’s doing.

So that’s why the church exists for the humble and the broken. Because we need God and we need somewhere to belong, and no one belongs anywhere more than God’s loving arms.

The Church shouldn’t claim to be perfect because we’re not. I can’t speak for every member of the Church or even every member of Abstract Church, but I’ve never claimed to be perfect. However, I know firsthand that some people give off that impression. And I would like to say that if any member of the Body of Christ has made you feel inferior or undeserving, I apologize. Because you’re not any more unworthy that the rest of us. We all receive grace and are made worthy by the blood and love of Christ.

He’s the only reason and the only way. We can’t earn it, and no, we don’t deserve it. He gives it to us anyway. He gives it to all of us equally. It’s called grace. It doesn’t matter what He’s saved you from; it only matters that He’s saved you. It’s unfair, but I’m glad it is because on my own, I don’t deserve any of the blessings, mercies, and gifts God’s given me. None of us do. We’re all just broken people being healed by the One who made us.

By Carrie Prevette

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