All of us must die eventually.
Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.
That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about –
and neither should you!
2 Samuel 14:14
One of my sisters, who is an extremely gifted visual artist, told me about something she learned in art school. In her first drawing class, the instructor didn’t allow any erasers to be used on their creations. Of course, someone immediately asked what they should do if and when a mistake was made. He told them that part of becoming an artist is learning that even a “mistake” can be a positive element to a piece of artwork. For example, if I am drawing and my pencil should happen to slip and make a mark I didn’t intend to, the new response should be to use that slip as a unique addition and turn it into something that fits with the rest of the image.
I thought that was an incredibly powerful lesson inside and outside the context of art school. When life doesn’t go according to MY plan, how willing am I to take the new set of circumstances I am faced with and move forward in that reality?
David had extensive experience with life not going how he may have imagined. He had slain a giant, been anointed king by God but rejected by Saul, lived on the run, became king, suffered the consequences of poor personal choices, and everything in between. Most of that time, he was quick to surrender his plan in place of God’s, but now he was faced with a new challenge. His children had become adults and were now living out the lives he was warned of. They were following in the footsteps of David’s impulsive choices with Bathsheba. (All of which sounds enough like a soap opera that it makes me feel a little better about my personal faux pas.) seeking behavior. David tried to sweep it all under a rug and ignore his conflict. Over time, however, he reconciled to Amnon’s death and longed to be reunited with Absalom. Joab (David’s army commander) recognized this conflict in David and sent a wise woman to speak with him about the situation.
After telling David a story that confronted him with his own hypocrisy, very much like Nathan did after the Bathsheba incident, she reminded him of God’s grace. She plead with him to recognize how short our lives truly are.
She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for all the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about – and neither should you! (2 Samuel 14:13+14)
We all – regardless of our position – are equally like water spilled out on the ground. Spilling water is an irreversible act, exactly like birth in sense that you can’t be un-born and the end result of life is always death. God spends the amount of time we are blessed with on this earth closing the separation between us and him. He does not sweep away the lives of those that he cares about. He doesn’t try to erase us. He never stops seeking the parts of us that are lost and once you are found by him, you will never be lost again.
In my life, I have had many situations that would be much easier to wipe up, erase and sweep away than it would be to accept. It is so much easier to point a finger of blame elsewhere when life doesn’t look how I would like it to. In David’s situation, it was the relationship with his child that was in disarray, in my life it’s my physical health, my abilities as a wife, mother, daughter, etc. Whatever it is, life has a start and an endpoint and nothing – no “extra mark” in the artwork, no “messy spill” on the ground – will stop God from his faithful commitment to save the lost and love us unconditionally wherever we are at.
So the remaining question is: do I take the grace God has extended to me – a spilled mess of life – and extend it to those around me – fellow spills?
Challenge: Intentionally seek ways to seize each moment I have to embrace the lives of those around me, regardless of the place they are at. We are all finite and we are all loved.
Dear Lord, Forgive me for all the times that ignored your call to love my neighbor. Sometimes I get so focused on my issues, my stress, my agenda that I forget how short this life is and how little my issues are in the face of an almighty God. Fill me with an unquenchable desire to love the spills around me and praise God for not just sweeping me away. Make this love in your community be explosively contagious! Amen.