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Good Intention—Bad Idea

“They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart.”
2 Samuel 6:6. NIV

In 1885, Karl Benz gave our world the first gasoline powered automobile, and manufacturers have tweaked his confounded contraption ever since. More than three-quarters of a century later, Ford Motor Company tried to rally baby boomers with the slogan, “Ford has a better idea,” and replaced the “o” in Ford with a light bulb to symbolize inspiration and encourage sales.

Free enterprise has made our nation great, but a product that has “new and improved” stamped on its package doesn’t always mean it is. How often have you tried a new and improved version only to return to the tried and proven one? Some things are so timeless, recognizable, and ingenious that it doesn’t make sense to try and improve them. It’s hard to perfect the paper clip, a #2 pencil, Post-It-Notes, chap stick, or the fork and spoon—although some have made a stab at it with the spork. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

During the reign of Israel’s King Saul, the Ark of the Covenant (a gold-covered wooden chest made to house the Tablets of the Law and seat the Glory of God) rested in the home of his son Abinadab. When David became king, he vowed to return the Ark to the Holy city of Jerusalem. Instead of the Levites carrying it with poles on their shoulders as God had initially instructed Moses (Exodus 25:12-14), they attempted to transport the Ark by a Philistine method and placed it on a new cart. When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah, the son of Abinadab, took hold of the Ark to steady it. Instantly, God in his anger struck him dead with fire.

Whoa! God’s response to Uzzah’s good intention seems harsh, but no matter how innocent, his irreverent act violated God’s command not to touch the Ark. Thankfully, we live in the day of God’s grace, or any one of us could go the way of Uzzah. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15). We must continue to revere God and honor his Holy ways.

When was the last time you failed to heed God’s instructions? Became impatient with his timing? Tried to help him out? For me—it’s not been that long. 2 Samuel 6 with its “hands off” message quickly came to the forefront. Regardless of what I thought—I didn’t have a better idea.

I heeded God’s warning. Not because I feared an untimely demise, but because I knew meddling would hinder the work of the Spirit in my situation and result in the death of God’s best.

No matter how good our intentions, attempting to tweak perfection is always a bad idea.

-Starr Ayers

Love Much?

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” 
John 13:35, NIV

Several months after my mother died, I found on the bush beneath her bedroom window the winter beauties pictured here. I brought them home and placed them in a bowl that had belonged to her mother. Among all of our Christmas decorations that year, there was none more beautiful than the “Empress of Winter.” Chinese tradition conveys that a camellia’s perfectly symmetrical form symbolizes the expression of long-lasting devotion.

Shortly after my mother’s death, someone asked me what one word I would use to describe her. “Devoted” immediately came to mind. Her children and grandchildren were her focus, and she always signed her cards to me …

Finding the camellias a few months after my mother’s death not only served as a timely reminder of her life-long devotion to her family, but they reminded me of my Heavenly Father’s eternal love.

Scripture tells us that because God loved us, “he gave.” He gave what was most dear to him—his only Son, Jesus (John 3:16). There was no price too great to pay as a ransom for our souls. He gave his all.

We find one of the most beautiful stories of devotion in Luke 7—the account of the sinful woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, then kissed and anointed them with expensive perfume. She expressed her worship in the presence of self-righteous Pharisees who thought her unworthy of giving such an extravagant gift. To them, the gift held far more value than the woman who gave it. They saw the breaking of the flask and the spilling of the precious oil as wasteful, but Jesus saw her heart—a heart broken and emptied—one filled with repentance for a wasted life. Jesus defended the woman and forgave her sins because “she loved much.” She had given him her all.

Jesus taught that the secret of devotion is to love much. In the United States, we see much love expressed on Valentine’s Day. Even before the last of ole St. Nick is packed away, all things “love” pop up on store shelves. This heart-shaped frenzy results in the exchange of 1 billion cards in the United States alone, 50 million roses sent, 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates sold, and enough candy hearts made to stretch from Valentine, Arizona to Rome, Italy and back again. Now that’s a whole lot of love but not the “much” of which Jesus spoke.

Who are we devoted too? We’ll find our answers laced with actions. The more devoted we are to someone, the more we’ll give of ourselves in ways beyond disposable tokens given on holidays alone. We’ll empty our hearts. We’ll give our all every day of the year.

May it be said of us, “Because God loved, they loved much. They gave.”

Starr Ayers

Holes in the Darkness

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”Daniel 12:3, NIV

Scottish novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson spent much of his childhood bedridden due to a chronic lung disease. One evening, he watched a lamplighter light gas lamps on the street outside his bedroom window. When his nurse came into his room and found him with his face pressed up against the glass pane, she asked, “What intrigues you so?”  He replied, “I’m watching a man punch holes in the darkness.”

 

God punched a hole in the darkness at creation when He said, “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3).

 

Jesus punched a hole in the darkness when He came to earth and said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

 

Christ-followers punch holes in the darkness whenever we let our lights shine. “You are the light of the world … let your light shine” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

 

Years ago, I received a phone call from a distraught friend. Her three-year-old was afraid of the dark. All of their attempts to comfort their daughter had failed. “Please pray,” she said. “Every morning we find her asleep in the hall. I don’t know what to do.” We agreed to pray against her child’s spirit of fear and the next morning my friend called to say her daughter had slept through the night.

 

Later that day, I bought a package of glow-in-the-dark plastic stars and took them to their home. When we led her daughter into the pantry and shut the door, the stars lit up the small room. I told her to ask her daddy to put them on the ceiling above her bed, then she could look at them and know that Jesus watches over her and would keep her safely through the night.

 

Once again, she slept.

 

Days later, I received a note from her mother. “Every night our daughter wants to turn out the nightlight so that she can see the stars. She says, ‘I can still see them, Mommy!’ It’s been a good reminder for us that sometimes we can see God shining brightly in our circumstances and at other times we have to look for him a little harder, but he is always there.”

 

To glow in the dark, phosphorus stars need continuous exposure to light. Likewise, in order for our lights to shine, we must position ourselves regularly in the presence of the Light Giver. Then, when we step into someone’s darkness, we’ll witness God punch holes in it and fill their soul holes with light.

 

Blessings,

Starr