Monday, April 23, 2007

Follow the Leader

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: I Kings 12, 13, 14

I Kings 13:6 (NIV)
6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.

I Kings 13:33-34 (NIV)
33 Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. 34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.

Good morning!

When I was in grade school, one of our favorite games to play at recess was “Follow the Leader.” Everyone wanted to be the leader. It was fun! Being a leader meant that I could move to the front of the line and, if the game went well, everyone behind me would imitate my actions. For instance, if I chose to hop up and down on one foot, everyone behind me would do exactly the same thing. If I chose to run in a figure eight shape, my train of followers would move in the exact same direction as me. Sometimes it is hard to follow the leader when you find yourself at the end of the line. Because I’m short, I can’t always see clearly around the taller people in front of me, and so it becomes more challenging to see what is happening up ahead. How do we know which leader to follow? What happens when our vision is skewed by the things that seem to loom in front of us?

Jeroboam certainly suffered the consequences of limited vision and self-centeredness. He kept making poor choices in leadership. He was gifted in many ways, but refused to follow the Lord’s instruction. Instead, Jeroboam did his best to mold God into a shape that he liked. How often do we try to make God fit into our life instead of purposefully longing for His will? We think our way is better. We don’t really want to try to follow what God tells us to because, after all, His Word makes most of us really uncomfortable. If we can just tweak it a bit here and there, so that it is more palatable to our taste, we just know God will agree with our philosophy and follow in step behind us. Can anyone define the word idolatry?

Jeroboam did not like the man of God who had been sent to him at Bethel, while he was trying to make his sacred offering to the Lord. He did not want to hear the prophetic word of this humble man of God. In an attempt to silence the prophet, Jeroboam raised his hand against him, and the Lord caused the king’s hand to wither. It suddenly shriveled up to nothing and the king found his arm to be completely useless. Have you ever experienced a time when God had to get your attention through some difficulty or adversity? We get so focused on our personal agenda. Sometimes, the only way we will stop and look up is if He literally knocks us off our feet. Just as the prophet had decreed, the altar at Bethel split apart and the ashes from the burnt offerings were poured out onto the ground. With fear and trembling, Jeroboam begged the prophet to pray a prayer of intercession, that his hand might be restored. As the holy man of God interceded on the king’s behalf, the Lord healed Jeroboam’s hand.

Over and over again, we see the Lord raising up leaders that we may not agree with or choose to follow. We often tend to get in the way of the God’s master plan when we believe that our choices are way better than His. We can learn from the mistakes of Jeroboam today, as we place our faith in the only leader worth following – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: His wisdom and discernment to guide our lives every day. Give us your eyes, dear Lord, to help us see the bigger picture. Teach us how to follow your ways, even when it difficult and hard to comprehend. Be our ever-present guide as we walk along the path you’ve provided for us. May our final destination find us enveloped in your everlasting arms. Amen.
© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding
All rights reserved
Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.