One of Cristine’s favorite Old Testament figures is King Josiah. Thrust onto the throne at age 8 after his father was assassinated by his own cabinet at the end of his two year reign. How does an eight year old kid cope with his dad’s untimely murder? The same way you and I ought to respond – “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
I’m sure he grieved the loss. I lost my dad to divorce when I was about his age. My dad was still alive and it marked me for life. I won’t sit here and tell you it was easy. But, Josiah’s heart was all God’s. At eight, he’s crowned. At 16 he begins massive reform figuratively equivalent to bombing ESPN, MTV, FOX, and NBC’s broadcasting operations (2 Chron 34:3-6). He completely turned their culture upside-down. At 26, he restores the temple and the Book of the Law was found.
If I’m this 26 year old “kid”, I’d be feeling pretty good about myself at this point – I’ve made up for my father’s wickedness, I’m serving the one, true, living God and routing out all other rival gods… I’d be fired up to see how my actions were lining up with this famous manuscript. It’s report card time!
I don’t know how far off the mark Josiah was or even where he was missing the mark, but when he read the text, he “tore his robes (v. 19)” in shame. Even though God had put the wheels in motion to begin the demise and exile of Israel because of their wicked disobedience to Him, the prophet Huldah tells the administration that Josiah will be spared this destruction. For the remaining 13 years of his reign, it’s pretty much “all good in the ‘hood” for Israel and they celebrate a Passover feast that even rivals anything put on in the time of King Solomon or even David, all on Josiah’s dime.
The key is pretty obvious here – God postpones judgment on Israel a few years “because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God… (v 27)” It’s a gospel message all over again. Repent – change your mind and turn your heart away from idols and lesser gods – and you shall be saved.
Seasons of Life is about relationships restored, first to the Father, then to the people. When our vertical relationship with Him is intact, often the relationships with those around us bang on all four cylinders with less stalling and coughing. In relationships, one of the greatest idols that comes between us and our God is expectation. When pride gets the best of us, we bank all we have on our plans and expectations of how things should go, people should act, outcomes should manifest. In so doing, we leave little or no room for the plans of God, leading to death, destruction, depression, and/or discouragement either figuratively or literally.
As always, the gospel offers a reset button of sorts. When we set aside our altars and high places, holding our plans with open hands, we’re free to let God remove from our hands what is temporarily “ours” and replace it with what He knows we really need. With open hands we also lower the risk of losing our fingers when He removes something from our possession very quickly.
As we grieve our oldest daughter’s departure to live with her dad, we thank many of you for your heartfelt prayers and encouragement. We thank others for tearing their clothes, sitting on an ash heap with us, and weeping without words. But, we also thank God that He has shown us two things: 1) that our children are not ours forever – we are to raise, love, and steward them as any other charge He grants us and 2) that we can trust Him with the expectations we had for how her life would go. Yes, we must grieve the loss of “our plans”, but Josiah’s dextrous feet shifted his balance so nimbly. God grants us the grace to repent of our plans, however good they may have been, and concede to His higher, greater, and better plans.
What expectations are you holding onto? Will you trust God as Josiah did and run full force in the opposite direction if God so guides you? Even if it means going against what culture and comfort say is right?
The message of the gospel is not “be good”. It’s “an A+ is completely unattainable” or “you’re wicked and completely incapable of pleasing God, so He did it for you.” You don’t have to try harder to tear down the altars and high places in your life. You’re incapable of doing it on your own. Thank God!!!
Be encouraged. Jesus took your test and passed it with flying colors! His grade can be trusted.