Friday, September 23, 2016

Annoyances can destroy, if we let them.

This blog post is a reflection on 2 Samuel 18-19 and includes a confession.

This story, from 2 Samuel 18-19 is about King David's overwhelming idolization of his son, Absalom, even at the cost of his people and kingdom.

Even before David's army went to battle, King David gave instructions to his leaders, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom."

But the big wake-up call comes after King David finds out about his son's death.  King David allows that event to cloud the reality that his army just won a victory! Sadly, King David can't even hear the news about the victory, but is only concerned about his son, Absalom.

Chapter 18, Verse 31: " Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”

Notice King David doesn't even acknowledge the victory.  His only concern is for his son. 

The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

After this, one of King David's commanders, Joab hears about David's mourning. 

Chapter 19 verse 1 says: Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.”

Joab, removed from the emotional reaction of Absalom's death, is able to see the bigger picture and how David's grief must come to an end for the sake of the kingdom.

Verse 5 says, "Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”
So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him."

Fortunately, David heeded Joab's advice and the rest of the passage tells of David's reconnecting with the people as well as pardoning various enemies for atrocities they committed against him.  Essentially, his kingdom did not come to ruin because he was able to move beyond his grief for the sake of the world around him.

What did I gain from this passage?

The question that came to mind as I was reading this passage was:

What is the one thing in my life that has become a negative filter through which I view everything else?

What has become a fatalistic grid that distorts even the most joyful of realities?

Our Enemy, Satan is the master of stealing joy. He likes nothing more than for redeemed believers in Jesus to walk around as if we have been destroyed or have no joy in life.

I do have at least one thing in my own life that eats away at me in a similar way that David's attachment to his son nearly ate away at him and his kingdom.  (One disclaimer: In this post, I am in no way saying that the death of a child is similar to the annoyance of a dog - my focus here is on how the controlling factor of these two things can destroy.)

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but since most of you will find it comical, I'll go ahead and share.

One massive joy-stealer in my life is Reagan. Jason's dog.  I've written about Reagan before (1 year ago to be exact).  I wrote about the need for "blinders" to block him out of my line of vision.

Oh, if only I could block him out of my life completely.  Then things would be better.  Or so I think.

Like King David, I have become fixated on something that holds my gaze, when there are much more beautiful things to behold just inches away.


Why do I let a dog dominate my life?

Both King David and I let something temporary become a controlling influence in our life when it has no business holding that kind of power over us.

King David got a wake up call from his commander Joab who reminded him of the bigger picture of his people and his kingdom, and how his distraction of his grief was beginning to have a significantly negative impact on the world around him.  King David responded and was able to move out of his grief for the sake of his people.

I got a wake up call of sorts last night, as Jason and I were watching the Red Sox (Jason's team) and the Orioles (my team, which is doing horribly right now!).  Reagan proceeded to go through his nightly routine of licking.  Licking what, you ask?  Anything around him - Jason's legs, the couch, etc.  For the most part it's his paws.  It can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, with occasional breaks.

And it annoys pretty much everything out of me.

Imagine a pig - not a dirty pig, but more of a consistent licking and grunting background noise type pig.  This goes on for what feels like an eternity.  Every. Single. Night.

I've found that if you nudge him every minute or so, sometimes he will get annoyed, and give up on the licking.  But recently, he's gotten mad and angry that he's being disturbed during his incredibly important licking procedure.

Last night, I reached down from the couch and gave him a nudge in his rear end to try and distract him.  He didn't like that one bit and whipped around to eat me alive. Let's just say he definitely let me know never to do that again.

So, there it is.  I've lost.  To the dog.

I have had my wake-up call. Not only is there absolutely NOTHING I can do to change the situation any more than David could change his, but also it is time to realize that this (relatively minor) annoyance is causing destruction in my life as a whole.  

Does this realization mean that I now love Reagan and will embrace him wholeheartedly?  Absolutely not. That is an impossibility.  But it might mean I stop torturing him while he is attempting to clean his feet for the thousandth time.  It might mean I find ways to distract myself from his pig sounds.  It might mean I try to think of the big picture of the rest of my life and how, in comparison, an annoying dog really should not have much weight on how I view the rest of my life.


Does this mean we should simply ignore all annoyances in our life?  I don't think so.  Many small or large annoyances, especially in marriage should be communicated about and dealt with so they don't build on each other and come out in some other ungodly way.

But I do think that most times, annoyances are a matter of the heart and perhaps should be checked to see if there is an ungratefulness or impatience or jealousy or selfishness or simple ungodliness that is playing any part in the reason why we are so annoyed.

I'm not saying any of those play a role in my situation... but then again...maybe I haven't dug far enough yet...or still refuse to admit it...

As Jason and I have come to say about everything in life...."It's a process."



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