Thursday, April 13, 2023

Interrupting Jesus' Crucifixion

Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 13:7-14

When I was in college, I was part of a drama ministry team called Love Company. We travelled around to various churches, schools, prisons, and any other places that would have us, presenting the Gospel through drama and theater. One of the skits we did was a very powerful reenactment of Jesus ' crucifixion in which Jesus literally takes someone's place on the cross and then, once he has risen, offers forgiveness to his executioner. There was one particular performance where I, as one of the guards escorting Jesus to the cross, had just exited the stage, and it occurred to me that I did not remember anyone grabbing a necessary prop for the next segment of the skit. I was off-stage and would have had to make my way back onstage in full sight of everyone, disrupting the skit in order to, ostensibly, "save" the skit. I had my hand on the door, ready to move but finally decided to wait and see what happened. After all, I was a newbie. We had people in the group and onstage who had been doing this for several years. So I waited and listened. No one had forgotten that key prop. I just hadn't seen the person grab it. But if I had let my uncertainty reign and my impatience rule me and tried to take care of things myself, I would likely have ruined the moment and hindered what the Holy Spirit was doing.

In 1 Samuel 13, King Saul was waiting on the eve of a massive battle. He had been wanting for Samuel to arrive to seek the Lord's blessing with a sacrifice. But as the window for Samuel's arrival drew to a close, Saul noticed his men getting restless and slipping away, and he grew impatient. Time was almost up and Samuel hadn't arrived yet. So Saul took it upon himself to do what only the anointed priest should do, and Saul offered the sacrifice himself. But just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering Samuel arrived (1 Samuel 17:10, NLT). When Samuel realized that Saul had taken it upon himself to offer the burnt offering, rather than waiting for him,  Samuel told him, "But now your kingdom must end...because you have not kept the Lord's command" (1 Samuel 13:14, NLT). The sad thing is, if Saul had only waited a few more hours, everything would have been fine. After all, Samuel arrived just as he was finishing the sacrifice. But Saul allowed his uncertainty and impatience to rule him, and he was unable to trust either God to honor him for his obedience or Samuel to show up when he was supposed to. As a result, he lost the blessing of God and, ultimately, his kingdom.

How often do we suffer the same fate that Saul did? How often is time running short and we allow our impatience to prod us into acting before it is time? How often do was see people not acting when we think they should and assume they are not going to do what is right or to keep their word? How often do we allow our fear and uncertainty to prompt us to take action when, if we just trusted God a little longer, we would be able to see that God has taken care of everything, that all of the props are where they are supposed to be? How often do we assume that, because we haven't seen what God is doing in the people around us, that God is not doing anything in those people at all? How often do we allow our uncertainty and our fear to prompt us to take action instead of trusting God and waiting just a little bit longer?

Impatience, when it is born of fear and uncertainty, is a signal that we do not really trust God. But God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV). If we want the blessing of God on our lives rather than the judgment of God, we must resist the urge to act like Saul. We must exercise self-control, power, and love and not allow our fear and impatience to drive us to sin.

Bad Umps and Protecting Your Rights

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 When my son started playing little league baseball, it wasn't long before his team lost a game...