shadow

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

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

 

Accentuate the Positive

“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”  
Romans 12:2, CEV

Years ago, my husband and I visited Vancouver, Canada. Cool temps, long days, beautiful vistas, and friendly residents made our stay memorable. Several times while there, I was asked to repeat something I’d said. Whenever I did, the comment that usually followed was … “I love your accent.”

Dialects and accents often reveal the vicinities or regions from which people originate. Most areas of our world have distinctive tongues. I think we can all agree, it’s easy to peg someone from Great Britain, Asia, the Bronx, or Boston. And, yawl—what about that unmistakable southern drawl? It’s a dead giveaway, isn’t it?”

Accents are significantly influenced by the amount of time we spend in an area, regardless of our birthplace. I’m originally from St. Louis, but I’ve lived in the South far too long for that to ring true. When my husband was in the Air Force, we spent over five months in New Mexico. Whenever we returned to North Carolina, some said I’d already picked up an accent.

What do our accents reveal about where we spend the majority of our time? Do we immerse ourselves in the world, or do our words and actions reveal our place in God’s earthly kingdom? If we’re professing Christians, can others tell by the words we speak and the things we do?

In 1944, Johnny Mercer, a southern boy from Savannah, Georgia wrote the song, Ac-cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive. Inspired by a sermon, the song’s lyrics encourage us to dwell on the positive and eliminate the negative in our lives. In other words, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it holds the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). The words we speak and the ways we say them reveal the things we’ve stored in our hearts. Our words create actions, good and bad.

Let’s be people whose mouths are filled with life—those whose speech reflects the character of our Creator. When others engage in conversation with us, may our words be so distinctive that they not only reveal where we’re from but whose we are. Let’s be people who are asked to repeat what we say, and then perhaps hear … “I love your accent.”

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” –Psalm 19:14 ESV

Blessings,

Starr