Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Age and Mileage...

My father is a man of many aphorisms. In fact, I've considered before that I really should take the time to list them because they are so much a part of my history. There is rarely a day that one or two of his random sayings don't pop into my head.

When I was growing up, a few of them nearly drove me crazy. For instance, each time I'd exuberantly shout, "Daddy! Guess What?!!" Without hesitation he'd respond, "The higher you raise a mule's tail, the better you can see his butt." I know, you weren't expecting anything quite so uncouth here. But honestly, that was just the first of many that came to my mind when thinking about some of dad's wise-cracks and sayings.

I'm happy to report that although he's quite a character and still a kidder (Dad: "You can kid leather and string beans, but you can't bull frogs.") he remains wise in his golden years (with the exception of that one recent tree-cutting incident). Conversely, 1 Kings 15:1-24 and 2 Chronicles 13-16 (today's passages) tell of a man who was wise in the early years of his life, but in his later years, behaved foolishly.

That man, Asa, King of Judah, faced an army from Ethiopia that outnumbered his and could easily overwhelm them. Logic said he was doomed, but wisdom demanded that he cry out to God. Here is his plea as recorded in 2 Chronicles 14:11
“O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”

The next verses say that "the Lord defeated the Ethiopians". What an incredible thing that must have been. This wise, young king saw God's might and power unquestionably demonstrated. Yet when we continue to read, we learn that later in his life he entered into a treaty with an earthly king, resulting in a legacy of sad, diseased defeat for Asa.

Finishing strong requires going all the way with God and refusing to enter into a treaty with this world. One of the most encouraging passages in all of scripture is also one of the saddest. King Asa was rebuked by Hanani with these words:

7 ...“Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”

How sad. How tragic!

Another of my dad's aphorisms when asked how he's doing, is this: "Pretty good, considering my age and mileage." King Asa had age and mileage (which should have ensured wisdom) on his side, and yet he did not finish well. I pray that we emulate my father and not Asa. I hope that we will keep on keeping on and walking the faith walk even when age and mileage have taken their toll. The rewards will be eternal and worth any sacrifice or challenge along the way.

So Dad, here's to you, even though you're probably feeling like you were, "sent for, couldn't go, finally went, and wouldn't do," you are an example to me and others of one who keeps the faith when the going is tough. Thank you.

Father, help us remember that your eyes are searching the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to you. Fix our eyes like flint on your purpose, plan and promises! In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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