“Cursed is anyone who obstructs the legal rights of immigrants, orphans, or widows.” All the people will reply: “We agree!”
True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.
1 When David had passed a short distance beyond the summit, Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant, met him with a pair of saddled donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred bunches of raisins, one hundred figs, and a jar of wine.
2 “What is all this for?” the king asked Ziba.
“The donkeys are for the royal family to ride,” Ziba explained. “The bread and summer fruit are for the young people to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the wilderness.”
3 “Where is your master’s grandson?” the king asked.
“He is still in Jerusalem,” Ziba answered the king, “because he thinks that the Israelites are now going to give his grandfather’s kingdom back to him.”
4 “Look here,” the king said to Ziba. “Everything that belonged to Mephibosheth now belongs to you.”
Ziba said, “I bow out of respect! Please think well of me, my master and king.”
24 Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also came down to meet the king. He hadn’t taken care of his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. 25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Mephibosheth, why didn’t you go with me?”
26 “My master and king,” Mephibosheth answered, “my servant abandoned me! Because your servant is lame, I asked my servant, ‘Saddle a donkey for me so I can ride and go to the king.’ 27 So Ziba has slandered your servant to my master and king, but my master and king is a messenger of God. So do whatever seems best to you. 28 Even though all the members of my grandfather’s family were nothing short of demonic toward my master and king, you still put your servant with those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to beg for still more from the king?”
29 “You don’t need to talk any more about this,” the king said to him. “I order you and Ziba to divide the property.”
30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take all of it, since my master and king has come home safely.”
One of David’s sons, Absalom, led a rebellion that forced David to retreat from his capital city of Jerusalem (cf. 2 Samuel 15). Saul’s former servant Ziba, who’d helped David find Mephibosheth, now tried to capitalize on the confusion by painting Mephibosheth as an ungrateful traitor (16:3). After David quelled the rebellion, Mephibosheth told a different story (19:26-28). David chose not to try to untangle this “he said/he said” situation, but exercised generosity toward both men. Mephibosheth ended the story on a grace note (verse 30), showing his appreciation for all of David’s generosity toward him. It’s easy to imagine David smiling as he recalled the pledge of faithfulness his much younger self had exchanged with his loyal friend Jonathan.
Loving God, you are always patiently, tirelessly working in my world, and in my heart, to bring about good. Keep me open and receptive to what I see you are doing and trusting when I cannot yet see. Amen.
I am writing this on Friday for my scheduled post tomorrow. All week I have been thinking about this day, dreading it really. Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of my neighbor, friend, and coworker Keisha. When I woke up this morning, the skies gray and pouring rain, I was overcome with a profound sense of grief. Grief for Keisha, for the time we are in, for so many things. So I did what I do, laced up my running shoes, cranked up my worship playlist, and headed out on the trail.
It is while I am running that I feel closest to God. I feel his presence, hear his voice, experience peace, shout with gratitude and praise and sometimes, as I did today, I just cry and ask for help working things out. As I was running, I moved through grief to other things. Following the events of the past couple of weeks, I have known that there was more going on that I needed to work out. From grief, I moved to regret. One of the things Keisha and I enjoyed most together was talking over a cup of coffee. We had too many cups of coffee to even count. But today, as I was running, I acknowledged that never once did I talk with Keisha about her experience being a woman of color. When the Black Lives Matter movement came up over and over again in the news, bringing attention to injustice, I said nothing. Did nothing. Asked nothing. And now she is gone, so I never will.
From regret I moved to embarrassment. In fact, my cheeks are burning as I type this. I have worked with people of color for years who are open to dialogue and yet I have said nothing. Done nothing. Asked nothing. I spoke at a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas several years ago with Dr. Emmanuel Cleaver III, who we had the honor of hearing preach last weekend. While there we had the opportunity to learn about the Little Rock Nine. I had many chances to dialogue with him and with others, yet I said nothing. Did nothing. Asked nothing. I am part of our Allies for Racial Justice program, partnering with St. James United Methodist, a black church in our community where Dr. Cleaver is the Pastor. I have attended meetings and events, yet I have said nothing. Done nothing. Asked nothing.
I justified all of this by thinking all the usual things. I am a good person. I am a Christian. I am not a racist. All lives matter. We are all the same. I love all people. This type of thinking hasn’t been and isn’t enough. This week I was reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I grieve. I regret. I am embarrassed. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. But as I was running, I acknowledged that my silence out of fear of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing or upsetting others or being uncomfortable has to stop. Collectively, as humans, our eyes have been opened. We can’t unsee, can’t unhear what has been revealed.
As I hit the last mile of my run, I kid you not, the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun began to peek through the clouds. The song “There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do,” by Kristian Stanfill started playing. I felt the words in my soul.
Oh, just one word, You calm the storm that surrounds me;
Just one word, the darkness has to retreat.
Oh, just one touch, I feel the presence of heaven,
Just one touch, my eyes were opened to see
My heart can't help but believe
There's nothing that our God can't do
There's not a mountain that He can't move
Oh, praise the name that makes a way
There's nothing that our God can't do. *
So, Keisha, no more regrets. I will say something. I will do something. I will ask. I will listen. I will read. I will learn. There is no doubt I will make mistakes. (Heck, I probably made mistakes right here in this post). I will get it wrong probably more than I will get it right. But my eyes have been opened. My heart believes there is nothing that our God can’t do. And I praise the name that makes a way. I miss you, my friend.
* WRITTEN BY KRISTIAN STANFILL / BRANDON LAKE / JONATHAN SMITH.
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