September 19, 2008

Wood Choppers & Water Carriers

I was talking to a friend last night who was sharing frustration over dating someone that (in hindsight) didn't turn out to be who he thought. And of course there's the added frustration that everyone else seemed to see it all clearly. Why did no one say anything to me? That's a story for another day - you know, that we're all a big bunch of chickens and scared to really confront and admonish each other. But how is it that so many wind up looking back on decisions or circumstances and thinking, "Why didn't I see this before?" Enter God.

This morning I read in Joshua 9 how Israel was getting ready to attack all the other people west of the Jordan. They were going to make what they did to Jericho look like a calisthenics warmup next to the whoopin they were going to throw down on these other kings. But one group of people - the Gibeonites - got smart. They knew they couldn't withstand an attack from Israel. They heard what they did to Jericho and Ai. So they used their heads and deceived the Israelites (Joshua included) into thinking that they were from a very distant land and had traveled a long way to come and be their servants. They stretched and aged their wineskins; they waited for the bread to get moldy; they even scuffed up their clothes & sandals. This was delicate deceit.

Here's the problem: Joshua 9:14 tells us that "...the Israelite leaders examined their bread, but they did not consult the Lord." And Joshua went right on ahead and signed a peace treaty with them. In one fail swoop, binding friends with the enemy. And here's where we enter the picture. There are times in our lives when we forge these relationships - whether what we perceive to be a simple, harmless dating relationship, or even more serious and binding - and we consult our eyes, we consult our hearts, we listen to our longing for someone to affirm us and validate our worth...but we forget to "consult the Lord". And eventually, as it was with the Gibeonites, "the facts" come out; we see who they really are and what we've allowed ourselves to do. And this can be indescribably painful, for us and everyone around us.

Joshua and the Israelites forced the Gibeonites to "chop wood and carry water". When we realize that we've taken steps like this without consulting the Lord we often put the other person through hell - we make them "chop wood and carry water". And this puts us in a position where our calling is crippled. WHY? Hold on to your hat. It's because once we've slept with "the enemy" we relinquish our ability to reach them. Once we cross over into a realm we were never supposed to go with someone, it makes it virtually impossible to love them the way we were intended to. When we fail to "consult the Lord" it just seems to always end badly.

If you're thinking of judging my friend, you best stop dead in your tracks. I have nothing but amplified respect for him (or maybe it's a her?). The courage to confess this and openly repent is HUGE. My admonition to you - before you let your heart do the thinking or your eyes persuade you on - is to "consult the Lord". And don't wait for your heart to flutter to make this a natural, daily part of your life and who you are. After all, there are a lot of wood choppers and water carriers out there who still need to know the King.

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