An Interrupted Life

    Jul 19, 2015

    Preacher: William (Tex) Culton

    Detail:

    I believe this might be a description of everyone’s life, however well planned out it may be.

    However this is not the way we are taught to approach life. We are told that if we plan well and save a certain amount and invest another percentage and make sure our children have good educations and we are up to date in our professions and our taxes are paid and we keep credit card debt below a certain percentage of our income and our homes kept up, that we will have a smooth, well ordered life with few if any headaches.

    I wrote a book on that once and titled it “Fat Chance”.  

    Not that we don’t have to do all that stuff; we do! It’s just that something is missing from the secular formula of how to succeed in life. How to handle crises, sudden change, disappointment, cancellations, rejection, failure and demands that you fear will put you over the edge.

    There have been more than enough studies on this topic and we are free to pick our system to adjust to change, but I believe that we need more than a system. We need the will. And the will that I’m referring to is a will that is open to the WILL OF GOD!  

    God inserted something into our understanding of life from the beginning, and we have done our best to ignore or deny that since taking the advice of a serpent in the garden. God has presented us with a steady stream of revelatory advice, inspiration, insight, affirmation and salvation, and we have a record of it in our Bible. I don’t care how skeptical you may be in approaching the scriptures, or how literally or symbolically you take it. It is the repository of wisdom concerning how we have faced adversity, and how we can move toward a life that is purposeful and meaningful in spite of interruptions.

    I know that it takes a faithful belief in God, but in my reading of the Bible, that has been accomplished for us by our creator. We have an inner knowledge of what is right and wrong, and God touches our hearts and souls with the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is recognize the presence and respond.

    Now to the interruptions! David was at a pretty good point in his political life. He had achieved his immediate goals; united the tribes, established a capital, brought the symbol of God’s presence, the Ark of God into Jerusalem and built himself a palace. His next move to further insure his future and broaden his support from the people was to build a house for the Ark of God.

    “verse 1: Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”

    We don’t know what David’s motivation was for wanting to build a “house” for the ark of God, or for God for that matter, but it seemed like a good idea, at first, to Nathan, his spiritual director.

    Now what priest in his right mind would turn down an offer from the most powerful figure in the community to build a new cathedral? Not Nathan, who said in so many words, “Sounds like a good idea to me!”

    But Nathan made a mistake. Instead of toasting his good fortune with an extra cup of wine, he said his evening prayers. You never know what God will reveal to you in your evening prayers; I’m convinced, that is why most of us avoid them and find every excuse we can to just “go to bed!”

    The word of the Lord, the TRUTH of the Lord came to Nathan and revealed that his first inclination was not the Lord’s will. What follows is a promise to David that his kingdom will be secure, not because of his wise politics, but because God wills it so. God also revealed something that would be misunderstood, and still is by the way, for generations.

    Nathan has the Lord declaring that He will make a house for David! Then God told David when this would happen…..after he was dead. A descendant of is would build a “house” for God and his descendant would be king forever.

    The general understanding of the pronouncement from Nathan was that the house for the Lord, the Temple that Solomon built was the one predicted by Nathan. However, Christians understand the “house” for God’s name and the kingdom about it that God would establish forever refers to the Church of Jesus Christ, with Jesus as our everlasting king. Then Christians would leaven the culture in which we live; causing it to become the “kingdom of God.”   I know that may seem like a stretch, but that’s the vision for the Church; to create the kingdom of God and bring all people into it.

    This interruption of David’s plans was for him to realize that all that had occurred up to this point in his short and blessed life was God’s doing! God took him from the pasture, “following” the sheep and anointed him prince over Israel. David might have been a great warrior, defeating Goliath and the Philistines and avoiding the persecution of Saul, but it was God who cut off all of his enemies. David is trying to establish Israel as a strong and independent nation that could defend itself and call the land on which it lived, promised, sacred, its own! But again, God reminded David that if that was to occur, and it would, that it would be God’s doing!

    However, God is speaking to the world, and David thought He was speaking only to Israel rather than through Israel. That’s the mistake the church makes. We need to realize that God speaks through us to the world and not just to us. That is an awesome task and one we cannot afford to take lightly. When we circle the wagons and become defensive and our reason for being is just to survive, we’ve lost the vision. We don’t have to worry about our enemies, because God has promised, through David and Israel and finally Christ, to give us rest from our enemies…….”And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death!” All this so that we can be strong enough to “SERVE” the world and tell the truth with courage and not worry about power, but about service! It’s all about being Jesus in the world. It’s all about being God’s hands and feet and voice in the world.

    David was forced to see the interruption of his plans to build a house for God as God’s will, not only for David and Israel, but for the entire world.

    I read one article that called the interruption that we read about in Mark, “Deus Interruptus.” That is God’s Interruption! We spend so much time planning that when our plans are interrupted, we become angry, fearful, ashamed and frustrated. Today’s scriptures can be interpreted as insight into how we might respond to interruptions aside from simply following our immediate emotions. We can, after some prayer and reflection (meditation?) …listening for God’s direction in our deepest understanding of God’s eternal promise to us personally and to the world…know that God would not shame us or punish us, and that there might be an opportunity to serve God more fully in the center of the interruption.

    My life was interrupted with age. That sounds silly, I know, but my Peter Pan complex settled down to convince me that I would never really age. After 35-40 years in non-stop ministry, I began to feel tired. So I retired to rest! But life offered me an interim so I could pay the mortgage and what I discovered, was a whole new congregation who needed a sheepdog, and new energy, and a kind of rest in work that had gone missing, because I, like David thought I was doing it all by myself. My Nathan was a man who has since died, who put it all into perspective for me from his death-bed. “Tex, burn your sermons. I did and it was so liberating!” That put me in the moment; those words from a trusted mentor who courageously followed God’s will, even when it caused him pain. Our accomplishments in life are God’s doing. Oh, we work hard and plan hard and sacrifice and follow our wisdom and our instincts, but God is behind it all and has been since the creation of the universe and God’s promise in Jesus Christ affirms all that David experienced and more…..

    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

    Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.

    Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the “house” of the Lord, forever.

    David got it! Can we?