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How Much Longer?

1 Samuel 16:1-13

“How much longer are you going to go on grieving for Sha’ul, now that I have rejected him as king over Isra’el?”

I took some time to look up something from another piece I wrote about the story of Samuel and Saul: the really bad thing that Saul did was to profit from the destruction of the Amalekites, by sparing the life of their king (not out of mercy, but out of expediency), and taking all their valuable goods. In doing so, Saul was revealing that he valued the lives of people less than the profit he could make, or the political advantage he might gain.” (The blog post is called “Until the Day of His Death” posted on 7-12-2017.) 

This story relates itself to my situation. Like Israel, we were faced with an absolute— something needed to be dissolved utterly— dismantled; ended. The circumstances called for dispassionate fairness and the administration of a quick and merciful death. That did not happen. Like King Agag of the Amalekites, I found myself facing a King Saul who had overstepped authority and abused power by holding me as if I were the dispossessed king of a conquered land; who kept me alive for the sake of profit; who stood over the ruins of my home and haggled for advantage and who, when that didn’t work out, pulled out a cleaver and started chopping with a bloody vengeance. Metaphors. The Inner Domain. Setting up Bad Kings. Grieving when our little idea-dictators fall in coup after coup. It’s evident that there are lots of false empires: The Realm of Self-Righteousness; The Suzerainty of S’not Fair; The Municipality of ‘It’s Mine’; The Province of Payback; The Kingdom of Quid Pro Quo; The Principality of Pouting; The Bailiwick of Blame; The Domain of Desire.

The only saving grace was this: I rejected the role of Ruler. My little domains were like bubble-wrap under my feet, and I enjoyed the snapping sounds of resentment, possessiveness, desire, revenge, and recrimination exploding into nothing when I stepped on them. I was not in charge of them, and when the burden of them was shoved into my arms, I remembered to let go and keep walking.

Ephesians 3:14-21

 16 I pray that from the treasures of his glory he will empower you with inner strength by his Spirit, 17 so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through your trusting.

The treasures of his glory, empowering. Yowza! Christ lives in our hearts through the action of trust. No one will ever figure out how that works, but luckily, it’s a pretty self-evident miracle.

Matthew 8:18-27

“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Sorry, I couldn’t help it— I got a vivid image of Mardi Gras revelers in skeleton costumes carrying shovels and digging mock graves in which to bury effigies labeled “Resentment,” “Possessiveness,” “Desire,” “Revenge,” and “Recrimination.”

It made me laugh.

As far as how long the grieving goes on, I say, “As long as it takes.”

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