Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them. 18 “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more.
I recently finished my first season of coaching my son’s baseball team. That was also my last. A friend of mine advised me to coach, telling me it would help my sports dynamic with my son; the idea being that instead of looking at me as his dad telling him what to do, he would listen to me as the coach, especially if he saw the other kids on the team doing the same. Maybe it worked for my friend, but for us, we butted heads. Example: I told my son to use a lighter bat because I thought he needed more bat control; he refused. Perhaps it was an ego thing, like telling a dude to drop weight in the gym. I do think that 75-99% of all fathers and sons will butt heads, because sons fundamentally want to prove themselves to their dads (to be fair, I’m sure I have a part in our fights too). But to some measure, I think my son is kind of competing with me and sees me as someone he has to overcome or exceed, in order to prove he has grown up (sounds like Wild at Heart, John Eldridge). By the way, I also think that this competing dynamic plays out in less dramatic ways for a many mothers and daughters but less severe in cross gender relationships, as I think my daughter would love me to coach her soccer teams.
What bothers/hurts me the most about this situation is that my son totally misunderstands me. I’m never trying to embarrass him or prove that he’s not on my level; in fact, the opposite is true. I’m trying to put him in the best position to succeed, because when he does well, I get happy. Sometimes that means checking his pride at the door and using a lighter bat, or it means working on a skill that is difficult for him; but ultimately, it means trusting me.
Granted this is an oversimplification, but the narrative of the Old Testament can be summarized by the Israelites’ desire to show God that they don’t need Him. Often it comes across like their goals for themselves compete with God’s goals for them. An example of this is shown in the end of the book of Jeremiah: this time, after their city is in ruins, the Lord tells them to stay in Judah; don’t flee to Egypt. Perhaps, the people thought the Lord was punishing them more to really drive His point home; yet, what we see is God’s desire for their good. In verse 10, the Lord tells His people that if they stay, He’ll build them back up and plant them. But alas, once again, the Israelites think they know best; they are like the 10 year old trying to show dad how he’s become the man who knows best.
How are you doing with the Lord? Do you feel like you’re competing against Him—your will against His? Stop trying to prove you know better or that you’re all grown up—be His trusting child.
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust that You are good, and I don’t need to compete with You. Though I want to mature, let me never want to grow so much that I think I don’t need You or I know better than You. Give me a child-like spirit. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 3 (Yesterday’ reading should’ve been 2 Kings 1-2)