the Man in the Mirror

I promise we won’t stay on A Tale of Three Kings forever!  Just one last post. : )

I was thinking the other day about how it is probably one of the most influential books in my life!  The Bible is of course #1.  Then there is of course a huge gap since nothing really compares!  But after that huge, huge gap, #2 for me is Boundaries.  At two significant junctures in my life, it’s been incredibly influential.  A Tale of Three Kings is my #3.  It’s definitely been hugely impactful for me (which I’m guessing you can tell since I’m *still* writing about it!).

What are your most influential books?  I look forward to hearing!

spears and armor

Until then… here is our last post on A Tale of Three Kings!  It’s some Q and A from the book.

Just a warning – it’s very humbling!  What do we do when we are faced with a Saul? Someone who seems like they are out to get us?  Someone who is throwing spears at us?

Oooooohhhh…. Sometimes we just want to get them!!  We want to get them so badly!!  But that’s not David’s approach.  David’s approach resembles a great message of – well, yes, a perhaps questionable pop icon.

Michael Jackson

When someone is throwing spears at you, instead of going after them, we may need to – {swallow} – look at the man (or woman!) in the mirror.

Q:        Just what does a person do in the middle of a spear-throwing contest?

A:        You get stabbed to death.  God is looking at the King Saul in you.  He must be annihilated.  David the sheepherder would have grown up to become King Saul II, except that God cut away the Saul inside of David’s heart.  That operation, by the way, took years and was a brutalizing experience that almost killed the patient.

Q:        What were the scalpel and tongs God used to remove this inner Saul?

A:        God used the outer Saul.  David was virtually destroyed in the process, but this had to be. Otherwise the Saul in him would have survived. He bore the crucible of humiliation. Because of this he was deeply wounded.  His whole inner being was mutilated.  His personality was altered.  When the gore was over, David was barely recognizable.

Q:        Who likes this answer?

A:        None of us do.  Except God.

Yikes, right!

I pray for all of us who are going through a season of bearing the ‘crucible of humiliation.’  It is a difficult, lonely road.  I pray we would rest in the Lord’s perseverance, peace, and strength.  I pray the Holy Spirit inside of us would ever comfort and empower us with His presence.  Though it may feel at times like spears are being thrown at us, I pray we would remember that God is transforming us through this.  He is working in our lives for His glory.

Q:        What is the effect?

A:        As David related to his God and to the man over him at that time long ago…so now David will also relate to his God and to the man under him.

Q:        Who likes David’s responses?

A:        Angels dreamed in the afterglow that God might yet be able to give his authority to a trustworthy vessel.

Q:        What does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered?  Or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?

A:        (You get to answer this one!)

Remember…

The passing of time, and the way you react to that leader—be he David or Saul—reveals a great deal about *you*.

Holding loosely to our thrones

So what does it look like to hold loosely to our thrones?

The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.

What does it look like to live out this mindset in our daily lives?  I just love this true life story!

In January, my hard drive crashed.  Uggghhh!  You know the feeling, right?

All my files were gone.  Gone!

And if that weren’t bad enough, it crashed last fall, too.  Yikes – did I have any files left?!

Our IT department worked and worked on my hard drive.  The Director of our IT Department, Marvin, personally spent several hours on it.  He even tried freezing it!  (Who knew you could do that?)  But nothing.  Nada.  It wouldn’t even spin.

My husband has had some success recovering hard drives and thought maybe he’d try to give it a go.  So I asked Marvin for a favor – could I borrow the hard drive?

Now that’s a big question – especially after he had personally spent so much time trying to recover it.  He and his team are talented, they’d worked hard on it, and they’d done all they could do.  Marvin is an effective leader and a competent IT professional.  What in the world was left to try?

Now Marvin could have sat on his ‘throne’ as the Director of IT and told me ‘no.’  He could have hidden behind some policy or rule – or perhaps some pride.  He could have taken offense or taken my request as a personal insult.

But he didn’t.

And I just love how the Lord honored Marvin’s holding loosely to his throne.

Marvin let me borrow the hard drive.  He handed it to me and asked what I was going to do with it.

I responded, “Pray!”

The next morning in my devotional time, I read,

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

~ 1 Peter 5:5

I asked the Lord to search my heart and let me know where I was being proud and where I could honor Him more by being more humble.  I was kind of expecting a response about me! : )  But out of left field, I felt like the Lord said, “I’m going to honor Marvin for his humility.”

I hadn’t really thought about it like that.  You know, no matter how nicely I asked for the hard drive, it still takes a humble leader to let a non-professional IT person take a go at what they, as professionals, had already tried to solve.  It truly takes a humble, Good to Great Level 5, Christ-like servant leader to hand over the hard drive and say, “Yes. I’m glad for you to try.”

And the Lord was faithful.  He honored Marvin’s humility, and he honored our prayers.  My husband plugged it in, and it worked!  Not only did it spin, but he was able to recover a majority of the drive.

Crazy, right?

I just love that the Lord, in a sense, still used Marvin to fix the hard drive.  It just wasn’t via his talents.  It was in honor of his character.  It was in honor of his willingness to hold loosely to his throne.  And through that, God accomplished His plans and is glorified.

Being a David

A Tale of Three Kings has truly helped David to become my favorite Bible characters (other than Jesus, of course!).

From King Saul’s trying to kill the already anointed David … to David’s finally becoming king … to his son Absalom’s trying to overthrow his own father, David held loosely to the throne and tightly to the Lord.

King David from The Brick TestamentThat mindset looks like this:

Someone trying to convince David:  “But you know that Absalom should not be king!”

David:  “Do I?  No man knows.  Only God knows, and he has not spoken.”

David could have tried to stop Absalom.  But could he do it in a way in which he could have remained true to himself, loyal to his integrity, consistent with whom the Lord called Him to be, and faithful to God?  David didn’t think so.  To hold tightly to his throne, he would have had to become someone else. And he’d been down that road before.  He’d seen what happens when he pursues his desires instead of the Lord’s.  He’d seen the mess it creates and the person he becomes.

Now, faced with the threat of Absalom’s overthrow, he didn’t want to go down that road again of his selfish pursuit.  He didn’t want his way to be his personal plans of regal gain. After all, isn’t that what Saul and Absalom were all about?

If I stop him, will I still be a David?  If I stop him, will I not be a Saul?  To stop him, I must become either a Saul or an Absalom.

It is better that I be defeated, even killed, than to learn the ways of… a Saul or the ways of an Absalom.

Through these challenges to his reign, he remained committed to being a ‘David.’

In my old age I intend to be David still.  Even if it costs me a throne, a kingdom, and perhaps my head.

He wanted his way to be the true King’s way.

But the Sauls and Absaloms of the world seem so powerful!  Do we really let our adversaries simply run their course?  Do we really let them potentially prevail?

That is an important question.  And I just love David’s perspective:

“You underestimate your adversary,” retorted Abishai.
“You underestimate my God,” replied David serenely.

A Tale of Three Kings reminds me that no matter the circumstances, we must be Davids.  We must stay true to the way of the Lord in seeking and doing the will of the Lord.  To become a Saul or an Absalom in attempts to preserve the Lord’s will is the way of defeat.  To honor the Lord is the Lord’s will.

So the outcome is the Lord’s.  But the process is ours to honor: To be a David – even if it means losing the throne.

Praying for us, that the will of the true King stays serenely on our thrones!

Whose throne is it?

There are so many things that have been impactful to me from A Tale of Three Kings!

We talked a little about the beginnings of David’s reign last post. At the other end of David’s reign was Absalom, his son who tried to usurp him. This man just couldn’t catch a break!

throne chairDavid was advised to thwart Absalom’s overthrow. Sounds noble, right?

Not to David.

David desired God’s plan, which may include seasons on the throne and off the throne.  After all, it’s not his throne – or Saul’s or Absalom’s.  It’s God’s!

I did not lift a finger to be made king. Nor shall I do so to preserve a kingdom. Even the kingdom of God! God put me here. It is not my responsibility to take, or keep, authority. Do you not realize, it may be his will for these things to take place? If he chooses, God can protect and keep the kingdom even now. After all, it is his kingdom.

That’s quite a different perspective! I just love the humble confidence it conveys. There is such freedom in navigating life as we realize that our being ‘on the throne’ may be God’s plan… and our no longer being ‘on the throne’ may be next in God’s plan.  Clinging to the throne is not our job.  Instead, trusting in God’s plan – leaning into His plan – frees us from fear!

Authority from God is not afraid of challengers, makes no defense, and cares not one whit if it must be dethroned.

Now it’s of course worth noting that our actions could cause our dethroning. It is always important that we rid of obstacles on our part:

I will not hinder God. No obstacle, no activity on my part lies between me and God’s will. Nothing will prevent him from accomplishing his will.

But this also means that we won’t get in His way if He’s moving us along!

The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.

Do we desire God’s will more than we desire our throne – whatever that may be? Do we desire God’s will more than we desire a position of leadership? More than our financial success, or others’ liking us, or whatever we think we deserve?

Do we desire God’s will as David did?

I’d like to leave you with just one last question if I may. This is a difficult perspective to swallow. It’s a life-altering perspective, so by its nature, it can be a big shift to make. It often involves frustration, brokenness, heartache, and perseverance as we process it all. It often involves a wrestling match or two with the Lord… and perhaps with ourselves. It involves a willingness to be transformed and embrace earthly loss for the sake of God’s kingdom. It may initially seem like loss, but it may actually be the greatest thing this world needs.

What does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered? Or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?

It can seem more fun – and easier – to be the former. But it may be more valuable – and ultimately more impactful for the kingdom – to be the latter.  The dethroning may seem like a setback.  But it may ultimately be for the advancement of God’s kingdom plans and the glory of the King!

How sure are you?

One of the things I just adore about A Tale of Three Kings is the perspective on humility that it offers.  It is truly such a gift to keep me humble when I’m frustrated with someone.

Sometimes when we’re frustrated, we tend to ‘go after’ someone. We think we see things so clearly – that they are wrong, and we are right.  That they should be corrected or put in their place.  And we can go on a bit of a crusade about it.

Saul and his army search for David

David had that opportunity.  He had been anointed king, though Saul was still reigning as king.  Saul was a bit crazy and tried to kill David.  Several times.  So David – who remember has been anointed king – is hiding out in a cave to protect his life when Saul comes in the cave to relieve himself.  David had a whole army of men in the cave with him who were loyal to him.  He could have gone after Saul and easily captured, dethroned, and/or killed him.  And after all, David did have a rightful claim to the throne.

But he didn’t.

David was very faithful with the royal anointing given him.  He was patient for God’s perfect timing years and years and years later when he finally took the throne.  Why?  Because he believed that Saul was the Lord’s anointed.

“Any young rebel who raises his hand against a Saul, or any old kin who raises his hand against an Absalom, may – in truth – be raising his hand against the will of God.”

God had placed Saul as king.  And until the Lord changed it, David was not going to raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed.  He could, after all, be raising his hand against the will of God.

David's men encourage him to take out Saul - from The Brick TestamentBut surely David was right!  Surely this was the will of God.  I mean, he had a whole group of men supporting him!  Surely Saul’s coming into the cave was the Lord doing what he spoke of when he said to David, “I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.”  So why did David allow Saul, who was persecuting him, to live?  David had already been anointed king! So why didn’t he go after Saul?!

Oh I just love this next quote.  I hope you’re sitting down.

Most of us know at least two men in the lineage of David who have been damned and crucified by other men.  By men who were absolutely certain the ones they were crucifying were not Davids…

And here’s the kicker:

Men who go after the Sauls among us often crucify the Davids among us.

Yipes.  We may need to read that one again.

Most of us know at least two men in the lineage of David who have been damned and crucified by other men.  By men who were absolutely certain the ones they were crucifying were not Davids…Men who go after the Sauls among us often crucify the Davids among us.

There were plenty of people who were pretty sure that, when they were crucifying Jesus, that they were crucifying an ungodly imposter.

But they were wrong.

Maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve been ‘crucified’ by people who thought they were right about you.

But they were wrong.

So if you are going after someone, are you sure that they are a Saul?  Are you absolutely sure that they aren’t a David?  And are you sure it is God’s time for you to act?

David lets Saul leaveThis was David’s response when challenged that he knew he should be king:

“Do I?  No man knows.  Only God knows, and he has not spoken.”