Thursday, September 05, 2019

A Just God?

Have you ever been angry at God? Confused over what you thought was an unjust punishment?
“Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
Have you ever wondered why God struck down Uzzah? The oxen carrying the ark stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to touch the ark to “help” it from falling. What was the sin in that?

There is a lot of backstory leading up to this point that you need to read to understand why they were transporting the ark in the first place. The ark represented God’s presence, and David is wanting to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. Go read the chapters leading up to this point and the chapter that we are discussing. I’ll wait here. :)
  • The capture of the ark in 1 Samuel 4 and 5
  • Return of the ark in 2 Samuel 6

To answer the question of Uzzah’s sin, let’s look to portions of the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary. First of all, there were specific instructions that were to be followed when carrying the ark.
The priests were supposed to use poles that slipped through four rings on the ark so that their hands would never touch the ark itself. But here they were carrying it around just like the Philistines did— on an oxcart. This story alone should tell us how God feels about the attitude that says, “I will worship God in my own way. It doesn’t matter how one worships God or what you do, as long as it’s sincere.” God does not take kindly to worship that disregards His standards.
Regarding Uzzah's specific actions: 
Uzzah’s touch represents a failure to understand his own sinfulness. Uzzah saw the ark headed toward the dirt, and he reached out because he assumed his hand was less dirty than the ground. Most of us would have done the same. But think of this: the earth has never committed the blasphemy of rejecting God’s authority. The earth has always obeyed the commands of God. Dirt could never pollute the ark. But the touch of a sinful man could. 
Uzzah did not understand this so he tried to do God a favor. David did not understand this so he got upset with God. But the reason we do not understand the judgment of God is that we do not understand the wickedness of our sinfulness. 
Our sin was apparently so heinous that Jesus, the Son of God, had to come to earth and be torn to shreds. Crucifixion was an unspeakable brutal process, meant to inflict maximum pain and to showcase a person’s shame. 
This was the punishment God Himself took for our sins. It was brutal. It was unbearable. It was disgusting. And that is precisely the point. The cross should remind us that our sin is unspeakably wicked.
God is so holy that He cannot tolerate impurity. The difference between Uzzah and us is that God gives us time to repent of our callous attitude. Do we realize the magnanimity of His grace toward us, that we can come into God’s presence, day after day, year after year, and not be struck down?
God would be within His rights as a just God to allow our story to end in verse 10, with Uzzah’s funeral. Yet the love of God breaks through once more, not as a result of any Israelite obedience but by the sheer mercy of God. Obed-edom, the newest landlord of the ark, has seen a change of fortune…his household has seen the blessing of God.
We risk missing the sweetness of God if we rush too quickly past this point. David’s last interaction with God led him to a crisis of faith, one that caused David to be angry and afraid. David had seen God in action and had pushed Him away. We might expect God to confront David for his disobedience. What we see instead is a slow process in which God woos David back to Himself. David has said to God, “Please leave me alone.” And God has gently responded, “I love you too much to do that.”
David hears the news of Obed-edom as a sort of promise for himself. God’s intention is not to be wrathful forever. So David ends the radio silence between him and God, determined to bring God’s presence back to his city with him.
These three months have been instructive for David, too. He must have done some reading because now, instead of using an oxcart to pull the ark, David has ensured that people are “carrying” it. The poles are back in place, and David is attempting to worship God the way God has revealed. 
The poles, however, are just the start. The caravan has not even taken a dozen steps before David calls a halt and offers up the chief picture of worship in all Scripture— sacrifice. The Israelite people were familiar with animal sacrifice, harkening back to the great sign of Passover. In the Passover, God had provided a way of salvation for His people: through the death of a spotless lamb, God’s wrath would “pass over” the household of Israel. And Israel’s worship centered on rehearsing this scene, reminding them that God’s presence with His people could only come at the cost of substitutionary death. 
Sin requires death. There is no getting around this. And there are only two options: either we reject God and pay the steep price ourselves, or we accept the sacrifice Jesus dearly made on our behalf. His grace is a gift, but it is a gift that must be received. David knew this, and he responded the only way people ever respond in light of God’s gracious love— with overwhelming praise.
There really is no way that I could have said it better. I learned so much from this book, and I highly recommend it for studying the book of 1 and 2 Samuel. The text I've included is just a portion of the depth the commentary covers. This insight was humbling and incredibly valuable in seeing how dirty and disgusting my sin is but also in seeing that God doesn't leave me in the mire. What a blessing it is to be forgiven and offered grace and mercy. And what a responsibility it is to pursue holiness and God's design. But it's a responsibility we don't do alone-- God leads and gives us the Bible to know His desires.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Living with Chronic Pain

Note: I posted this to my Instagram and Facebook last week. I wasn't planning on pushing it out anywhere else, but I think it's something I need to share. I live with pain. I have a great life, but I don't want to hide the part of life that really hurts.  So, here's a little photo and caption I shared last week when I was living in the pain. ♥

I’m waking up to day three of limited mobility. My edema flared up majorly this weekend and has affected my feet and legs to the point of not being able to do much walking. As I sat on the floor to get ready Sunday morning, since standing was uncomfortable, I wanted to pout a bit. I prayed and poured out to God my frustrations and limitations. I don’t normally do Bible study on Sunday mornings. I know I should. The rush of getting ready for church and the busyness of the day means I prioritize other an afternoon nap. I also get spiritually fed really well on Sundays, but I’m starting to see that I need to be feeding myself that day too. While I was pouting, I ached for comfort from God. So I read my daily devotion, which happened to be about God placing us in hard situations for a purpose. Then I picked up my daily Bible reading, which was from Job and how God had a purpose in his pain that was not punishment as one of his friends believed. Those two readings sustained me as I spent most of the rest of day in bed, healing and resting. I’m still not very mobile, and I still have some aches, but this time has forced me to slow down, think, and ponder on what God is doing through my pain. I also have some really cute caretakers checking on me. We all have different pains and reasons for those pains, but God can sustain us and teach us through them all.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Joy in Creation

Humidity— the original filter. My lens wouldn’t defog this morning. The humidity was no joke, and I could feel the moisture in the air as we walked around the yard.

Do you ever sit and marvel at creation? Are you amazed by a sunset? Are you overtaken with love for your children? Do you feel joy from the beauty that surrounds you? Did you know that our emotions are similar to how God feels? John Piper says that Psalm 104 is a song expressing the joy that God has in His creation. As I read the psalm, I feel the greatness of God and how small creation is in comparison. The things in creation that overpower me and tower above me are completely within His control. The psalm shows His power and His handiwork. His words themselves can control creation. This pushes me to praise and adoration. When I marvel at creation, I’m really marveling at the Creator who brought it all into being, me included.
“He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. May the Lord rejoice in his works. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
Go read Psalm 104!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Harlow's "Big Girl" Room

Up until a couple weeks ago, Harlow was sleeping in her crib.  Don't worry-- her crib turned into a bed! She was starting to outgrow it, and the crib mattress and springs just aren't as comfy as a regular bed mattress.  I have been looking for beds for a few months, trying to figure out what to get for her. My thought was we would get her a twin bed.  Colin and I were wanting to get a new mattress for our bed, so our final decision was to move our current queen mattress to the guest room and move the full size mattress from the guest room to Harlow's room.  It takes up more room than a full mattress, but it saved us from buying a second mattress and bed frame. The iron bed frame is an antique that I had growing up.  Even though it takes up more space in her room, I think the white bed keeps the room feeling fresh and open.  The bedding is what I had right before Colin and I got married and has been our guest bedding.  It was the perfect fit for Harlow's room.  So, it turned out we didn't have to buy anything new to transform her room!

In case you were wondering, Harlow was excited to come home to a "big girl" bed!

Here are a few posts on how her room has looked in different stages over the past almost five years.  These posts will have details on some of the furniture and decor in her room.

Harlow's room is small, but we've found that you can make a small room work for whatever you need!  She loves her room and doesn't know that it's considered small for a bedroom.  I hope this gives you some inspiration for your small spaces.

Here's a photo overload of her "new" room.  You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Learning from Laundry

Learning from Laundry

Often the things we complain and grumble about are actually some of our greatest blessings.
Anyone prone to hating the task of doing laundry?
I can walk into a room that is temperature controlled and has electricity and running water to do laundry. I don’t have to walk out into a harsh climate and find water to bring back to the house or carry my laundry to a water source.
I can push a few buttons and have machines wash and dry my laundry for me. I don’t have to scrub my laundry by hand.
I have a pile of laundry that needs to be washed and folded, because I am blessed with clothes to wear, towels to use, sheets to sleep on.
I have small kid clothes to wash, somehow more frequently than my own clothes, because I am blessed with a daughter to raise.
While my husband washes his own clothes (we learned in our first year of marriage that it was best for us to do our own clothes…can go more into depth about that later😉), I can either grumble that he always seems to have a load sitting in the dryer, or I can see it as a constant reminder that I have him.
When we start to view the tasks we despise as actually blessings, we’ll no longer be resentful. We’ll instead rejoice at the gifts we’ve so graciously been given. The next time you have a basket of laundry to fold, use it as a time of prayer, thanking God for all He has given you. That’s what I’m working towards.
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