A Common Life Lived with Uncommon Joy

Posts tagged ‘victory’

Even More Undignified Than This

The Joy of the Redeemed (King David Dancing)

The Joy of the Redeemed (King David Dancing): John the Baptist Artworks

A couple years ago, my kids went to Bible School at a neighborhood church.  The last night of Bible School, the church set up a carnival in the gym.  The kids played games and won little squirt rings, temporary tattoos and way too much candy. The most anticipated event of the night was the pie eating contest.  Every day of Bible School, my son had taunted and bragged to Frank, one of the leaders, that he could easily defeat him in the contest.  When the time came to belly up to the table, Ross was disappointed and frustrated to learn it would be kids against kids.  Still, he sat down and ate his “pie” (a plateful of whipped cream) as if it were his last meal but in the end, he lost to a faster, hungrier kid.  The chance to be redeemed came when they announced there would also be an adult challenge.  Eagerly, Ross begged my husband to beat Frank in his place, but Michael wasn’t about to make a fool of himself.  I immediately volunteered and made my way to the table.  Ross’ eyes were as big as saucers and he had to pick his jaw up off the floor before he could start cheering me on.  The announcer yelled start and I inhaled a plateful of whipped cream in no time flat.  I had whipped cream in my hair, behind my ears and all over my face but I had defeated Frank and, more importantly, risen to the ranks of coolest mom ever in less than thirty seconds.  I learned that night that sometimes being foolish is worth it.

In 1st and 2nd Samuel, we read the story of King David.  David was chosen by God to be king of Israel at a young age.  The only problem was…Israel already had a king – King Saul.  Saul hated David and for years he tried to kill him, chasing him all over the countryside, hiding in caves and waiting for the perfect moment to destroy him.  David was constantly on the run, but through it all, he trusted that God was in control.  On two different occasions, he spared the life of Saul when given the opportunity to kill him.  The day finally comes that Saul is dead and the throne belongs to David.  David immediately goes to defeat the Philistines and return the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David.  After so many years of hiding, running for his life, and living in caves, God gave him the victory!

So what does David do to celebrate?  As the parade makes its way into the City of David, here comes David dancing with all his might…in his underwear.  His wife is mortified and gives him a piece of her mind.

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” 2 Samuel 6:20

So much for a little show of support from the wife, right?  Michal was the daughter of Saul, the same man who had pursued David and tried to kill him for so many years.  Naturally she wasn’t too happy with the whole situation to begin with, but seeing her husband dancing down the street half naked was more than she could stand.

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” 2 Samuel 6:21-22

David reminded her once again that God has chosen him, not her father, to rule the people of Israel.  He was willing to be foolish in the eyes of man if it glorified God.  He didn’t care what the slave girls or anyone else thought.

Think about that for a minute…if God told you to celebrate something incredible he had done in your life by dancing down your street in your underwear, would you do it?  Maybe that’s a little extreme, so let’s be more realistic.  If God asked you to look a little foolish by saying no to something everyone around you is saying yes to, could you be a fool for Christ and say no?  If He told you to share the gospel with a friend or a coworker or your neighbor, could you get past the fear of man and be willing to look foolish in order to witness to them?

So many people think of Christians as uptight, stick-in-the-muds that play by all the rules and never have any fun.  Christians aren’t supposed to be silly or foolish or do something that might call attention to themselves…they’re supposed to be dignified!  Really…are you sure?  Let’s see if the Bible backs that up.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.  Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble births.  But God chose to use the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose to use the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He     chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:18, 25-30

We can’t proclaim the good news of the gospel to those who are lost without looking foolish because the gospel is foolishness to those who have not yet been saved.  Think back to when you were saved…I don’t know many people who were saved because of their intellectual pursuit of God or their logical findings.  If you’re anything like me, you tried living life on your own terms and made a royal mess of it.  It’s hard to see a way out when your life is falling down around you and everything looks hopeless.  But then God put someone in your path that told you the craziest thing you’ve ever heard.  They told you there was a God who loved you…and not just an ordinary love but an incredible sacrificial love, a love so deep and wide that he sent his only son into the world to die on the cross for all the things you did so that you wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for all those bad decisions.  Not only that, but you didn’t have to do anything to receive his sacrifice in your place except to acknowledge you needed it and thank him for it.  How crazy is that?! It’s unbelievable!

When we go against the grain, the world takes notice because it’s foolishness in their eyes.  To the world, nothing is more important than being accepted. God calls us to be in the world but not of the world.  We need to stop worrying about fear of man and do whatever it is he’s calling us to do.  You can‘t fit in and be popular and follow Christ at the same time – it won‘t work. Jesus says the world will hate you…not might, it’s a sure thing!

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  John 15:18-19

David understood that his outspoken love for the Lord was undignified in the eyes of the world.  He was willing to be humiliated in order to bring God glory.  His famous underwear dance says, “This victory isn’t about me, it’s about the God who made it possible.”

I want to let go of the fear of man and live a life out loud for God.  I want to worry more about the state of my heart before God than the state of my popularity before my peers.  I want to trust God enough to let him worry about my reputation.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  Luke 9:23-26

Jesus makes it clear that this life is not about me and it‘s not about you.  I’m pretty sure he won’t ask us to dance in the streets in our underwear, but he may ask us to reach out to a hurting friend or say no to something the world says is okay.  He may lead us to be excluded or outcast. If our lives make sense to unbelievers, then there’s something wrong with the way we’re living our lives. I’m willing to walk to the beat of a different drummer and stand out from the world.  I want to be undignified and foolish…because this is one time I know it will be worth it all.

As always, your comments make my day!  Have you done anything undignified or foolish in the world’s eyes recently?  I’d love to hear about it.

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Hit Me with Your Best Shot

ImageWhen you open the door to adventure, you never really know what might come through that open door.  It’s part of what makes it thrilling, the possibilities are endless!  It’s also a bit scary, because really…the possibilities are endless!  What if God calls me to do something way out of my league, completely out of my comfort zone?  Sure I’m good with stretching myself and learning new things, as long as I can do it in baby steps!  But when God steered me toward my latest adventure, I knew this would be no kiddie pool experience – He was taking me straight to the deep end, sink or swim!

My brief time in college was nothing short of disaster.  After going through some of the most challenging times in my life, I came home a complete mess emotionally, spiritually and especially physically, a victim of rape with an eating disorder added in for good measure.  I learned to stuff my feelings with potato chips and chocolate icing and built a wall of Snicker bars and pound cakes around my heart so tall, I was sure I would never, ever be hurt again.  At my lowest point of life, in my worst state, my future husband came into the picture.  Somehow, he saw through the hurt and the pain and the empty candy wrappers and saw who I could be if only someone would take the time to teach me to love and trust again.  And so he did.

Through the years of dating, early marriage and having babies, the emotional and spiritual wounds healed but my weight continued to climb.  Over and over again, I lost then gained the same thirty pounds.  I slowly learned to let go of the binging and take my hurts to the Lord.  But the weight was a sort of safety blanket I held onto, a protection I relied on.  Until the day the Lord revealed that He is my strong tower, my rock and my fortress – anything else is built on shifting sand, including the wall around my heart and the fat around my middle.  I spent the next month wrestling with where my security truly lies and finally, gratefully surrendered my safety to God.  I thought that was the end of it.  And then He threw me a left hook…literally.

My adventure began when I started considering joining the gym across the street from our neighborhood.  I’ve grown to love my body and be content with my weight, but the constant ache in my hips and legs, lack of energy and inability to do so many things I wished I could were starting to get old.  It was time to work out some stress and frustration and get some good exercise at the same time.  Just a few short days later, I found myself not puttering around on a treadmill while I watched television as I had imagined, but in a workout studio with a personal trainer, a bunch of weights and some strange looking equipment that looked more like torture devices than exercise gear.  Through a series of events only God could have coordinated, I was in the deep end of the pool and I was sure I was going to drown here!

Cindy became my lifeguard.  She guided me through the shark infested waters of healthy eating and helped me develop a plan to keep my head above water.  My two workout partners, Michelle and Eileen, arrived and we began our circuit training.  I was surprised to discover it was much easier and more enjoyable than I expected it would be.  Every rep, every set, every circuit completed made me feel stronger and more capable.  I repeated to myself over and over again: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  He was there with me in the deep end of the pool and I didn’t have to be afraid, even if all I knew how to do was doggie paddle.

At the end of our workout, Cindy showed us how to put on handwraps so we could spend a little time boxing.  I watched carefully – as a leftie, everything always feels backwards when I try to do it – and managed to wrap both hands without a do-over.  I walked with Michelle to the punching bag and half-heartedly slugged it.  I felt a spark in my heart.  I hit it again a little harder and the fire was lit.  Out of nowhere, all the hurt and pain and feelings of helplessness bubbled up inside me and threatened to explode.  I began to pummel the bag.  Inside my heart raged and the wall fell.  I wanted to pound the bag, knock it to the ground, jump on top of it and punch it until my arms gave out.  It was a symbol of everything that had been locked up inside me for the past 19 years and I was ready to tear it down.  Outwardly, I continued to beat at the bag and visualize what I really wanted to do to it.  Cindy called me over to punch at the mitts she was wearing as she rotated her arms in different patterns.  I threw the first couple punches and she said, “Woah! I’m gonna take another step back.  You’ve got some power there.”  I continued to punch at the mitts and finished my workout.  On the outside, I was quiet and calm.  On the inside though, I felt like Rocky at the top of the stairs.  I had jumped into the deep end of the pool, learned to swim and claimed my victory.  God would keep me safe.  I just had to keep swimming.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense, he has become my salvation.”  Psalm 118:14

Comments make my day! Share your adventures with me – I’d love to cheer you on.

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