Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Horrible Warning

There are many ways to create a legacy of your life, and I believe that almost all of them are some form of sharing stories--either through telling stories or writing them. That's why this blog is here. More important than sharing stories is, I think, living to the fullest of our potential, being the best we can be, and leaving that example as our legacy.

Lately, I've been learning much about this from King Saul.

"King Saul?" you might wonder. "What kind of hero was he?"

I know, he was hardly a good example. He was more like the poster child for the saying: "If I can't be a good example, then let me be a horrible warning."

When God told Samuel to tell Saul that he must completely destroy all the Amalekites--"completely destroy" was the key phrase there--but Saul spared King Agag and some of the prime animals to use as sacrifices, God took his Spirit from Saul and dethroned him as Israel's king. Then, when Samuel went looking for Saul to give him the bad news, he discovered that Saul was off erecting a monument to himself.

That part is astounding--he was erecting a monument to himself. Nervy. I can't help contrasting that to the memorial the Israelites built from the stones in the bed of Jordan River, to memorialize God and his miracles on the day he led them safely through to the other side.

After Samuel delivered the news to unrepentent Saul, he left Saul forever and mourned (some Bible translations say he grieved) for a long time--until God gave him a new assignment. I imagine that Samuel's mourning wasn't done sitting in a dark corner while quiet tears slid down his cheeks. I think his mourning was of the wailing-and-rending-of-clothing variety.

This is the part that makes King Saul's story very personal to me. Samuel might have been mourning the loss of his friendship with Saul, or he might have been grieving God's decision, hoping God would give Saul a second or third chance. But I think what Samuel was wailing and rending his clothing over was that he understood the profound pity of unfulfilled potential: what could have been would never be. He knew that Saul could have been so much better, so much greater, so much more...anything...if he had only done things God's way instead of his own.

That's the tragedy and the horrible warning--that Saul could have been a far better Saul with God than he could possibly ever be on his own. We will never know the difference that fully-realized Saul might have made. The world would have been a different, and most likely a better, place if he had sacrificed his own desires instead of the Amalekite lambs.

Samuel reminded Saul that God doesn't want burnt offerings--the B-list forms and acts that we pass off as living, loving, and worshipping, while we reserve the A-list for ourselves. Instead, God wants our "broken and contrite heart"--one into which he can enter and then transform into his very best design.

If I'm going to be an example and leave a legacy to my children, and eventually to my grandchildren, I need to remember that God held nothing back for me when he sacrificed his very best on the cross. With that in mind, can I give no less in return?

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton

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