Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prayer and Purpose

Today's passage:  II Samuel 21:1-14
    In college I worked at a highly popular fast food restaurant. Because of my school schedule, I worked many different shifts.  One year I worked early mornings from open until mid-afternoon.  The next year, I worked mostly evenings from late-afternoon until closing.  Since I was one of the few workers that had actually worked both shifts, I was privy to hearing the blame game.  When I worked mornings and something was undone, it was a tendency of my co-workers to say, "Oh, that didn't get done because of the closing crew."  When something was left unfinished in the evenings, those on that shift would often say,  "The morning crew never completes that."  Sure, there was the occasional time when you would see somebody doing nothing, but since we were the only golden arches that served many of the small towns in the area, and we were a lunch stop on the way to Branson, Missouri we kept pretty busy.  I was always the type of person that thought, instead of complaining about the undone job, just do it.  I know its more work, but so what?  Work is never evenly divided.
      I don't see David complaining a lot. Unlike the king before him, he takes responsibility for the way he has failed God.   After all he has been through so far, now God sends a famine in the land.  After three years, David decides to ask God about it.  Perhaps, in the beginning, David just attributed the famine to lack of rain or a weather cycle that would pass.  Some summers are particularly dry, some years a lot less precipitation.  Another year goes by and David is probably figuring out that this much time without rain is a little unusual.  By the third year, David recognizes something supernatural is going on here.  When David asks God why He is sending this famine, God tells him it is because of a sin Saul committed against the Gibeonites.  David could have told God this was not fair.  After all, he was not the one to break the treaty (one Joshua had established) with the Gibeonites, that was the last king.  Why should he be held responsible for the failures of his predecessor?  It's called leadership.  And guess what?  Every leader has to deal with the failings of the last presidency, er, leader.  David could have whined and complained about this for another couple years while his people continued to starve and while the rain still did not come.  Instead, he decides to solve the problem.  He offers a solution to the Gibeonites (an unfortunate one I am afraid) to appease their wrath, and guess what?  God sends rain.  Leaders find solutions.  Incompetent leaders complain about the problems handed to them.  It irks me when presidents or prime ministers complain about past problems mostly because they chose to run for that office knowing full well the problems facing them.  David had not asked to be king.  David did not campaign his way onto the throne.  God selected him which means he would have even more reason to murmur about this new situation.  But he doesn't.  He leads.  And that is something I've not seen a lot lately in our own country.
     I know this is a little more political than my usual post, but David's leadership style challenges me to think more positively when God allows difficulties in my life, especially ones not of my own making.  How does God want me to handle it?  Moan and groan like Saul, or pray and purpose like David?  Looking throughout history, I would say that most leaders fall into one of these two categories, and judging from the past, I think we can deduce which style has been most productive.  Complaining about things does not solve anything.  Blaming others does not resolve issues.  David witnessed that in the man who came before him, and he determined to be different.  He accepted the challenges put in his path and forged new ones.  With all his failings, David led his people, right or wrong.  With all his faults, David accepted the problems given to him and found solutions.  He didn't always do it the right way, but at least he did something, and he didn't place the blame on anyone else. I think we all could stand a little help in that department.

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