Relief or Resolve

 The home health care nurse just left after pulling my PICC line and completing her final exam. So after six weeks it is nice to have this eighteen inch line out of my arm and be done with the IV antibiotics. Now the challenge is to avoid future infections. However, we have learned our lesson about being aggressive and proactive with any signs of reoccurring infections as doctors work to determine the source.

One of those doctors is my urologist. I had an appointment with him today. We at least had the opportunity to review my last infection and hospitalization and gain a little perspective on what we need to be on the lookout for in the future. Outside of that nothing to eventful; that is good when it comes to your urologist!

I had a visit today with my friend Charles Hefton. I actually invited Charles to come see me to get his perspective on a project I am working on. I have known Charles for a number of years and enjoy his wit, wisdom and perspective on issues. I love his passion for investing in others and churches as a personal coach, mentor and consultant.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

I read through the final chapters of 2 Kings. These chapters 19-25 contain the account of the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah. Two of the kings of Judah that were faithful and obedient to the Lord.  Hezekiah’s reign is described as one who trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.” (2Kings 18:5-7)

During Hezekiah’s reign Israel was taken captive by Assyria. Assyria then turned its assault on Jerusalem and Judah. The Lord miraculously delivered Judah in response to Hezekiah’s prayer. Hezekiah became sick, and the prophet told him, “get your house in order, you are going to die.” Hezekiah, “turned his face to the wall and prayed.” The Lord heard his prayer and added fifteen years to his life.

Hezekiah received a visit from an envoy from Babylon and he showed them all the wealth and riches and utensils in the house of the Lord and the treasury of Judah. The prophet Isaiah confronted the King, “Hear the word of the Lord:  The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” (2 Kings 20:16-18)

Hezekiah’s response was, Isn’t it enough if there is peace and security as long as I live?”

I have to admit, that bothers me! This King who had so much going for him at this point in his life is willing to allow “things to just happen” without once again seeking the Lord for the future of God’s people. There is no indication that Hezekiah sought forgiveness and interceded for God in His mercy to change His mind. The man who saw God miraculously intervene and answer prayer even to the point of having the sundial turn backwards, now is relieved that judgment isn’t happening on “his watch”, “at least it won’t happen while I’m alive.”

What we see is his son Manasseh, comes to reign for the next 55 years and has an evil heart and re-institutes all the idols that his father has rid from the land. It seems while Hezekiah was reigning over a nation, he failed to look out after his own children.

However, Manasseh has a grandson by the name of Josiah who becomes King at eight years old! One day during the cleaning of the Temple the Book of the Law is found. When it is read to the King he grieved and understands that they are under God’s judgment. The Lord’s prophet is called in and the King is told,

I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people.. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made….’ Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord… Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”     (2 Kings 22:16-20)

How did Josiah respond? Did he wipe his brow, breathe a sigh of relief and say, “at least it won’t happen in my lifetime?” Not at all! He called the nation together, renewed the covenant with the Lord before the people and went on a rampage throughout the land to remove idols and desecrate the altars to other gods. He finally came to the altar that Jeroboam had set up almost three hundred years earlier and destroyed it! As he was getting ready to burn bones of dead people on the altar he asked, “whose bones are those?” The response, “those are the bones of the prophet who foretold [300 years ago] what you are doing now.” I like the King’s response, “leave those bones alone!”

Finally, Josiah had the people celebrate the Passover. The first time it was celebrated by all of God’s people since they entered by Promised Land. Eventually, Josiah was killed in battle by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt and shortly after his death, the downfall of Judah began to take place. While God’s judgment still came who knows but the reforms of Josiah helped shorten the captivity of God’s people. In spite of the reforms it appears that the hearts of people did not fully turn to the Lord.

It seems like we often face the point of decision where we must choose between “relief” (being satisfied all is okay with me and my world;) and “resolve” (the determination to make a difference and to plead with God for a different outcome.)

When paramedics showed up at our home six weeks ago and asked Debbie, “how aggressive do you want us to be?” I’m glad she didn’t stop and think… “well…the life insurance is paid up so I should be okay, so….”

On a more serious note, do we take comfort at times in our own relationship with Christ and forget that not everyone knows God’s forgiveness and peace. Do we look at the Bible and the trajectory of the world and say, “well, the Bible says the world will be on a downward spiral before Christ returns, but I’m ready so….” or do we pray for hearts to turn to God, become agents of help and comfort and God’s love in crisis and our present culture?

Personally, I am still processing what this means for me as a follower of Christ. I hope you will join me in that process and what this means for you.