Month: October 2011

Of Donkeys and Dishwashers

** Since preparing for and moving to California, I have let the blog go (like the many other times over the years!). But I’m back, sort of. I write a newsletter for our church each week, so I thought I’d start putting it here each Thursday. And maybe I’ll start blogging other days too!

Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed to Samuel: “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 1 Samuel 9:15-16

In 1st Samuel 9 we see a beautiful picture of the sovereignty of God working behind the scenes of one family and a nation. On the surface, it seemed like it was just an ordinary day on the farm where Saul lived. Nothing special. Chores abounded. Animals needed to be fed. Just run-of-the-mill farm stuff. But there was a crisis at the “Circle K Ranch” (Saul’s father was Kish, hence, the “Circle K Ranch”). The crisis: lost donkeys! Everybody panic!

Well, that’s how the Kish family reacted. Of course, it doesn’t seem like much to the modern reader. Just a few donkeys. What’s the big deal? But to Kish it was a big deal. Think of how you’d react to losing a few paychecks? That’s the crisis that the Kish family is facing.

So Daddy Kish sends Saul out to look for the lost donkeys. While Israel was looking for a king, Saul was looking for donkeys. But there’s something else happening behind the scenes. The Lord was preparing the way for Saul to become king of Israel. Saul had lunch plans (that he didn’t know about yet) that included Samuel because Yahweh had put it on His calendar. Even though the people of Israel were rejecting Yahweh as king, still Yahweh responds in mercy to work salvation for His people. He’s that kind of God. Merciful. Gracious. Even when His people abandon Him.

So what can we gather from this story? 2 things:

1) God is providentially working behind the scenes of our lives to expand His kingdom for the good of His people. Saul was just looking for donkeys. Nothing too exciting. Just run-of-the-mill farm chores. Just mundane life “stuff.” And yet God was preparing the way for Saul to become king in order to save His people from the Philistines.

Are we any different? Don’t we do hundreds of mundane tasks and chores everyday? Take out the trash, tuck the kids in bed, pay the bills, feed the dog, clean the toilets, etc. What God is saying to us is that even in the midst of all of these mundane tasks, He is quietly working behind the scenes to extend His kingdom for the good of His people.

Doesn’t that make you want to sing the Doxology? Doesn’t that make you want to worship? What kind of God are we dealing with? One that somehow is bringing about His kingdom for our good in the midst of washing dishes, changing diapers and commuting to work.

Ordinary, daily tasks become the stage for the Lord to do His work. Kind of changes how you view loading the dishwasher, doesn’t it?

2) God is sympathetic and tender towards His people… even when they rebel against Him. God is amazing! Israel has complained about wanting a king (see 1st Samuel ch.8), ignored the Lord’s warning about what the king will be like, and yet still the Lord has heard their cry. Amazing. A stubborn, rebellious people still get the ear of the King of the Universe. This of course does not downplay their sin. It is hideous. It is vile. It is rebellion. It is cosmic treason. Yet God is still merciful and hears their cries.

What kind of God are we dealing with? One that is tender and compassionate. He loves His people and waits for their cry for mercy that He might be merciful. What a tender God we have! Our rebellion cannot outdo His mercy when we repent.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:8-14

Let “donkeys” occupy your thoughts today:

~ If you’re out “looking for donkeys” (i.e. doing mundane tasks) don’t forget that God is quietly working behind the scenes for your good.

~ If you’re “acting like a mule” today and you’re stubbornly kicking against His mercy to revel in sin, snap out of it. Repent. Cry out to Him. And He will listen and respond with tender mercy and grace.

What kind of God are we dealing with here?

I don’t have Him totally figured out yet, but I’ve seen enough of Him in Scripture that I want to worship Him right now. I suggest you do the same.

~Pastor Benji