Ever noticed that when God is trying to tell you something, He can be very persistent? That the message simultaneously shows up during your study of the Word, in a book you are reading and coincidentally in general conversation? That something you have been thinking about ends up being the topic of the sermon on Sunday morning?
Last week I wrote about my "Love Walk" and, truly, what a struggle it is to fully comprehend and put in to action in my life. Sunday evening I picked back up with "FYG". Chapter 7 "Barbaric Behavior" is based on Nabal and Abigail. I'll let you read up on that, I Sam. 25. But, what hits home for me is the Love Walk that Max Lucado challenges us to become a part of. While he never directly calls it a love walk, it certainly ties in to exactly what I read in RMTL.
Lucado opens with the story of Ernest Gordon, former chaplain of Princeton University. Gordon was a prisoner of war, captured by the Japanese in World War II. When Diphtheria took over his body he was left by the Japanese to die. New prisoners encountered Gordon and rather than focus on their own long sufferings the began to "cleanse Gordon's ulcerated sores and massage his atrophied legs. They give him his first bath in six weeks. His strength slowly returns and, with it, his dignity."
I don't know about you, but I can honestly say that I am not certain I would have been the soldier who could have focused on the dying, rotting body on the cot. I fear I would be way to caught up in my own misfortune to notice the suffering of those around me. Thank you, God, for putting your Word in my life as a lamp unto my feet a light unto my path.
The story of these soldiers, Abigail and Christ all show that goodness is contagious. Selfishness, hatred and pride saturate the world around us. But over time the tone of "camp" will soften and brighten and sacrifice will replace selfishness.
Abigail places her very life in the path of David's army and in Nabal's place "begs not for justice but forgiveness, accepting blame when she deserves none". I feel so convicted when I read about Abigail. It's easier to place blame than to take it when it's not deserved. I think we know someone else like Abigail. Not someone who stood between David's army and certain death for Nabal, but someone who stood between our sinfulness and the wrath of God. Jesus.
The lessons we learn from this story? "Meakness saved the day... ...gentleness reverse[s] a river of anger. Humility has such power. Apologies can disarm arguments... The contagious power of kindness. The strength of a gentle heart."
When you are facing your giants this week, face them with beauty. Max writes, "His sacrifice begs us to ask this question: if he so loved us, can we not love each other? Having been forgiven, can we not forgive? Having feasted at the table of grace, can we not share a few crumbs?" "Shift your gaze to Christ. Look more at the Mediator and less at the trouble makers. Be the beauty amidst your beasts and see what happens."
I leave you this morning with these verses, Proverbs 25:15, Romans 12:21 and these questions*:
Describe a time you saw the good influence of one person change the atmosphere of a group or organization. What specific environment could you reshape by your good influence? Do personal possessive pronounds dominate the language of your circle? My career, my dreams, my stuff. I want this to go my way on my schedule. If so, you know how savage this giant can be.
*From Max Lucado's study guide for "Facing Your Giants"