Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heads or Tails

Today's passage:  I Samuel 12
    Heads, you win.  Tails, you lose.  I think some people think this is how God handles our lives.  That somehow God is up in Heaven flipping a coin, and depending on which side faces up is how He will deal with us.  I'm thankful that my God is so much more complex than that.
     Reading this passage about David's brokenness over the consequences for his sin, reminds me a bit of "Heads or Tails", not because that is how God deals with Him, but because we are apt to think that if David says some kind of magic prayer, he will end up with the heads side of the coin and everything will be hunky-dory.  God does not work that way.  If our lives were just a coin to God, why is it so many people have more Tails than Heads?  If our lives were just a flip in the air, leaving things to chance, then we would have no reason to live in a way that was pleasing to God, because the outcome would never have any connection to how we lived.
The Death of David and Bathsheba's Son--Taken from Treasures of the Bible (The United Kingdom)
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
The International Publishing Company, 1894
     In this passage, God could have spared David's unborn child.  He could have considered David's heartfelt pleas and stayed His Hand.  But He doesn't.  It is not because David got the Tails side of the coin.  It is because God knows how best to handle David's heart.  He knows how best to handle mine.  When I was a teen, there was a song by a pop music parody master that said, "I'd rather rip my heart right out of my rib cage with my bare hands and then throw it on the floor and stomp on it til I die..."  Humorous, but haven't we all had those moments?  Those times in our life when it felt like God was ripping our heart out of our chest and holding it in His bare but capable Hands?  Or worse, throwing it to the floor and stomping on it?  David's face to the ground, his eyes overflowing with tears, his heart too full for food or company is pleading for God's mercy.  Doesn't God hear him?  Shouldn't God spare him?  I can't answer that.  I can't understand God's ways.  I know that David is not the only one who had sinned.  Who knows that God's decision to bring this judgement might not have been for Bathsheba?  He was holding her heart too.  God was not up in Heaven, laughing deviously, flipping a coin, saying, "Well, let's see how this all comes out.  I'll let this nickel decide."  God is purposeful.  God is just.  God wants my worship.  God wants my best.  He knows best how to achieve those things in my life, and in the lives of others.  And since I am not a navigator of hearts, I am not a spelunker of those inner caverns, I cannot pretend to know what God already does.  He holds that pulsating center of thoughts and emotions in His hands, and He knows how tightly to squeeze to get it pumping again.  He knows just how much pressure to apply to make it pulse for Him.
     Poor David.  I can say that, and my emotions be little affected because I didn't know him.  I can objectively read this passage and not be touched by his pain.  But there are people who have impacted my life, who may be in a similar situation as David was.  No, they may not be about to lose a child (or they may be), they may not have sinned as egregiously as David did, yet their sin is costing them.  God may have their heart that is in no way connected to mistakes or unholiness.  Those Davids may be beseeching God for mercy in their lives.  And God will give it.  But not necessarily in the situation they are in.  After God took David's child, despite the broken heart, the earnest prayers, God was merciful.  How?  God gave David another son, Solomon.  And He allowed him to win another battle against the Ammonites, the battle they should have won when Uriah was killed.  God created us.  He knows how best to keep us alive and afresh for Him.  Just because I say it doesn't make us automaton's devoid of emotion and reason, yahooing every difficult circumstance in our lives.  But it makes me feel a whole lot better knowing that the One who created my heart, knows exactly what to do with it.  And that gives me much more peace than a coin flip.


  1. I just had a "world-altering" situation two days ago when I received some bad news. I admit I didn't handle it very well. I was hysterical, I was such a mess! The news turned out to be just a mistake & I'm glad now that it isn't true. That experience has allowed me to look back with a much clearer, retrospective mind today. I still can remember how my heart seemed to burst out of my chest in enormous pain & that the world has gone bleak in just a matter of seconds. It was horrible! I believe God allowed me to experience such heartbreak, even for just a moment, so I can trust more in Him for the future. We will all get our portion of bad news in life & our hearts will be broken in so many pieces that we might think we will never be whole again. But praise to the Lord God Almighty alone for He knows how to handle our hearts! He doesn't flip any coins to make us feel we're always on the edge. His purpose & His plans are always, always for the best.
    Thanks for the post Stephanie. It reminded me on how God broke even David's heart for God only knows how to handle it well.

  2. I'm glad God spared you some heartache. It is never a pleasant experience, and I know I have had events in times past where I did not respond as peacefully as I should have.


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