Thoughts for the Week

Archive for September, 2012

Come “As Is”

I had a problem.

There was some tension between me and a friend. I had made a mistake and needed to make it right. I remember praying about it, asking God to help us. I wanted to talk it out with this friend first, but I had no idea how.

I knew I was sorry. But I figured that I needed to figure myself out first. Why did I make that mistake? Why was I feeling the way I was? I needed to understand my problem and fix it before trying to sort it out with my friend.

But I was reading through 2 Corinthians chapter 6, and God showed a verse to me in a new way. Paul said to the church, “A  fair exchange–I speak to you as my children–open wide your hearts also” (v. 13, NIV).

God impressed on my heart that I needed to “open wide my heart” to my friend. I didn’t need to have the problem all figured out before I talked with him. I could bring it all as it was.

God also reminded me that I can bring problems to Him I don’t understand. Just because they don’t make sense doesn’t mean I can’t share them with Him.

So before you think you need to have everything understood and squared away before you come to God, know you can always come to Him “as is.”

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Make Your Father Proud

I learned a lesson from my dad at a young age. It has stayed with me into my adult years.

One day, my dad took me and my siblings to the mall. We were misbehaving and my dad had to pull us aside. “When you act like that,” he said. “Other people look at Mom and me and think ‘Wow, those parents are doing a terrible job.'”

In my little 6-year-old mind, I was shocked. I thought, Wait, my mom and dad are great! I don’t want people to think they’re not good parents! From then on (even through high school), whenever I was well-behaved, it wasn’t only for my benefit. It was also for my parents’ reputation.

Proverbs talks plainly about this. “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother” (10:1 NIV). Children reflect their parents.

Think about this: What does your life look like to non-believers? How are they viewing your Heavenly Father through you? Are you one who gossips, or are you selfish with your time? Perhaps you talk behind people’s backs, or struggle with telling the whole truth.

This week, aim to be the child who makes your Father proud.

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

David’s Last Chance (Part 6 of 6)

(1 Samuel 24:1-22)

The dusty, hot air coated Saul’s parched throat. He coughed and reached for his wine-skin. “When will we reach En-gedi?” he asked his armor-bearer. “This weather is unbearable.”

“Soon, sir.”

“I hope so. David had better be there. Knowing he’s still out there plotting…sets my teeth on edge.”

“You should have no problem now. I heard he only has six hundred men, while you bring three thousand elect troops.” The warriors bustled behind the king, wanting to find David to get home and out of the sun.

“Yes, I know.” Saul sulked. “It’s a five-to-one match. But I can’t relax until that traitor is dead at the other end of my spear.” He clenched the weathered spear, its handle rubbed smooth from all the times Saul ran his nervous fingers over it. “But for now, I think we all need a break.”

The troops collapsed under the trees and rocky crags in cool, shady spots. Saul handed his spear to his armor bearer and headed for a nearby cave. He knew he drank too much water from his wine-skin.

As he slipped inside the cave, some specific individuals further inside spotted him. David and his men just happened to be hiding inside that very cave! His men whispered excitedly to David, “Look! Now’s your chance! He’s alone and unarmed! You can end this hunt and finally go home!”

David slipped stealthily down the cool, dark passageway toward his enemy with a sharp dagger in hand. Saul rested against a tall rock and was enjoying a moment of cool stillness. You monster, David thought. You took the lives of innocent families and now seek mine relentlessly. Why God had you anointed for king I’ll never know.

The men waiting down the tunnel waited for the blood-curdling cry from Saul…but there was only silence. Eventually David came slinking back, an unbloodied knife in one hand, and a scrap of cloth in the other.

“Did you kill him?” they asked in hushed tones.

David’s eyes grew sad in the semi-darkness. “I couldn’t do it. He is a murderer and hunted me like a dog for months…but he is still God’s anointed king. I cannot take his life.”

* * *

Saul descended the rocky slope to his troops and his ears prickled when he heard his name called. “My lord, the king!”
That voice! The voice he had trained himself to hear and strike down. From the man he detested and wanted dead. He whirled around. That man…was bowing down.

David lay on his stomach just outside the cave, and he shouted to Saul. “Why do you keep pursuing me? You think I’m trying to harm you? Look!” He rose slightly and all of Saul’s troops were watching him now. A lone archer near the back raised his bow toward David’s chest, an arrow notched to his ear.

David held the scrap high. “This is from your robe! I cut it myself in the cave when you weren’t looking. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it then.”

Saul snatched his robe’s edge and held it up. Just as David said, a small section had been cut away. Saul’s face twisted and he was silent. David spoke.

“My king, you have done some awful things, and God will judge you, but I won’t.”

Then Saul, the mighty king of Israel, began to weep. The archer lowered his weapon.

“David, I am so sorry,” the king mourned. “You are a far better person than I am. I know you will be king after me.”

In the end, Saul left David, and he no longer had to run. After God rescued him, he penned words that have encouraged people for thousands of years.

“I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”

(Psalm 18:1-2, NIV)

The End

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

No Escape (Part 5 of 6)

(1 Samuel 23:7-29)

David found himself quickly gaining more men. Rescuing the city made him the hero of Keliah. He lowered himself to the dusty ground near the city gate and glanced to azure sky. Lord, you’ve been faithful. I— David’s thoughts were cut off when a scout ran to him, his face beaded with sweat, and his eyes wide.

“Saul knows you’re here! He’s bringing his entire army to destroy the city to get to you!”

David’s heart began to race. Keliah had a wall and could keep out most attackers, but with the recent invasion, this city was in poor defensive shape. David jumped to his feet. “Where is Abiathar?” The people of Keliah who heard the news were milling around anxiously.

The young priest was quickly located. “Abiathar,” David said, “Saul is coming here to kill us. Please seek God’s guidance! And quickly!” David secluded himself and poured out his heart. “Lord, will Saul actually come here? God, what should I do? Please tell me!”

The Lord answered. If Saul comes here, the people will hand you and your men over to him. David’s heart ceased racing and froze instead. “They will betray me? After we rescued them?” His men were quickly assembled and they fled Keliah before Saul arrived.

* * *

Once they had gone a considerable distance, they stopped for camp. Hundreds of little campfires lit the cold wilderness of Horesh. David gazed into the fire; an ember sputtered from the flames and flickered out.

Suddenly, a hand grasped his shoulder. “David?”

David looked, but couldn’t believe his eyes, “Jonathan!” His best friend had tracked David down to encourage him. He sat himself across from the fire, the orange light painting his regal features. “My father will never find you, David. God will keep protecting you. I know you’re meant to be king. Don’t give up.”

* * *

The next morning, the two men parted, both feeling encouraged. David and his men went south near Maon, and Jonathan went back home to Jerusalem. David heard Saul was still seeking him and went deeper into the wilderness of Maon.

But one fateful morning, Saul drew too close for David and his men to escape.

The troop of 600 carefully made their way through the gritty, sun-scorched wasteland of Maon. The few bare trees were stripped of any leaves, and no sound could be heard except for the lonely, dry wind.

David called for a much-needed break, and they sat. One of his men, the one with the graying beard sat next to him. “You wouldn’t happen to have any extra water, would you?”

“Sure, you can have mine,” David offered.

“Thank you. Mine began leaking yesterday, and this weather can drain a man of life—”

But David wasn’t listening; he was fixed on the cloud of dust rising from the horizon. He looked closer, and saw his worst nightmare. “Saul’s army!” he cried.

All his men were thrown into a panic. The enemy had seen them now, and the army charged. David and his men made a break for a small mountain in an attempt to hide in the crevices and caves.

David waited until his men were on the other side of the mountain. He looked back and was startled by how close the enemy was. He heard their thunderous marching and their blood-thirsty cries.He looked into the mass of men and his eye fell on Saul. The man had been hounding him for what seemed like months. They saw each other for the first time since this chaos began. The cold victory that burned in Saul’s eyes made David’s knees give way.

He let his body sink to the ground as he slipped behind a boulder. Oh God, he prayed while tensing his body against the rock. There’s nowhere to run. He’s going to kill all of us.

Saul and his men began closing around the mountain like a noose.

Just as David heard Saul’s men clamoring up the other side, he heard another noise. A horn? Suddenly the war cries and marching stopped. David mustered enough courage to peer over the boulder. Saul’s leaving? He stood. David later learned that the Philistines had raided Israel and scouts had come to call Saul away to fight.

As David’s men watched, they cheered and praised God. David saw Saul turn and look toward him. Hatred radiated from his glare and he turned away with his army.

David only slid to his knees—glad to be alive. But he knew Saul would be back.

To Be Continued…

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Keliah’s Rescue (Part 4 of 6)

(1 Samuel 22:20-23, 23:1-6)

The soft night sky twinkled with stars and the wind had slowed to a warm, gentle breeze. David and his troop camped in the forests of Hereth that night. He sat against a wiry acacia tree and let his muscles relax.

It feels as though things are finally calming down, he thought as he began to doze off. But a shout from his men brought him back to the present . A young man stumbled into camp, demanding to see David. He had blood spattered on his clothing, a colorful ephod in his hands, and his eyes were wide—darting this way and that.

“Who are you?” David’s men demanded.

“I am Abiathar, son of Ahimelech. I’m from Nob, I need to see David immediately!”

David recognized the town and name. He stepped forward. When he saw the blood on Abiathar’s clothing, he felt uneasiness settle upon him. “Abiathar. You are welcome here. What happened?”

Until now, Abiathar would not let himself break. But tears in the young man’s eyes flowed freely over his anger-stricken face. “It was Saul! He killed my father, he killed all the priests! My whole family.” He slumped to his knees, holding the ephod close to his chest. “I am the only one who escaped.”

David felt his chest tighten. He kneeled down, placed a hand on Abiathar’s shoulder and tightly clenched his other hand. “Why did Saul do this?” But he already knew the answer.

“Doeg, that cursed Edomite, saw you in the temple and told the king. Saul brought the priests to him and said we had aided you in your mission to destroy him. But it was a lie! He destroyed my family over a lie!”

The gut in David’s stomach went from tight to nauseous. Oh, Ahimelech. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have hidden the truth from you. You were all innocent, and I could have warned you. He spoke. “I knew there would be trouble when I saw Doeg that day.” He took Abiathar’s shoulders and looked into his tearful eyes. “I am so sorry. I have caused the death of your entire family. Please forgive me. Stay with us. I will protect you with my life. Because the same person wants both of us killed.”

* * *

A few days later, David heard a town nearby, Keilah, was being robbed by the Philistines. He stopped and sought advice from the one friend who had been with him since his flight started.

“Lord, should I go and attack them?”

The answer came clearly: Yes, go and save Keilah.

He told his men the plan, and they were not thrilled. A man with tired eyes and a graying beard said, “Listen, we’re scared as it is in our own country. Do you think it’s wise to take on the entire Philistine army?” Others agreed.
“God has told me to go. But if you are afraid, I can ask him again,” David replied.

So he secluded himself and sought the Lord. Listening intently, he heard the same answer. Go down to Keliah. I will give the Philistine army to you. He shared the Lord’s words with his men and they prepared for battle.

It was just as God said. They drove away the hostile army, reclaimed the things that had been stolen, and rescued the people of Keliah. One of the rescued men held his wife close. “Thank you, David. This town will forever be in your debt.”

After they had driven the Philistines away, the man who had doubted approached David. He fidgeted with his sword and looked into David’s eyes. “Please forgive me for not believing you. I was wrong to question what your god said.”

David smiled. “Don’t worry. Everyone doubts at some point. But it’s not wrong to ask again to clarify. If anything, I think God is pleased when we double-check his words.”

It was another victory for David, but little did he know the people of Keliah were about to betray him.

To Be Continued…

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

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