Thursday, March 09, 2006

Felt Board Friends

Why is it that all the biblical heroes I heard stories of as a child were male? Not that I'm a man-hater—far from it! But really, apart from Mary the mother of Christ—oh, and John the Baptist had to be born some how too, so I heard Elizabeth's name—I recall no stories of any other women. I remember felt sheep, felt thickets, felt alters, felt thrones, felt loaves and fishes, felt kings, felt shepherds—one could say I felt a lot as a child. But that sisterly struggle between Leah and Rachel was not among it. The youthful foolishness of Dinah was never conveyed. The motherly caring of the Shunammite woman was never experienced. Nor was the crucial stalwartness of Deborah. But more than my wrestling with the fact that all my childhood heroes of the faith were encouraged to be men, is my wrangling with the fact that all my childhood heroes of the faith were perfect. Perfect specimens of wit, wisdom, and holiness...and those chiseled felt features weren't so bad looking either! My heroes were noble champions for all that was good, true, and just. They prayed all the time, even in bed—which I always thought was a feat in and of itself to be in bed praying and not go to sleep. They talked to God as if He were their best bud. And whenever God helped they rip that lion up, shoot that giant down, or fight those evil idol worshippers away, they were always good about telling God thanks.

I'm a perfectionist. It's taken me years to admit that and still I'm apt to deny it when circumstances comply. I'm attracted to the flawless because I hate mistakes. I've been learning the art of delegation, but I've found that my brand of delegation is selective. If there is any doubt in my mind as to the expert quality of my volunteer's work I'd just as soon do it myself so that it will be done the right way. Actually working with people gets messy any way, and who wants mess! If there is that slight chance in a million that I happen to mess the project up myself, it's never as big a problem. I mean, think all the good that will be accomplished when I'm done...and who better to fix the problem than, well, me. Minor details aren't messy when they're your own and you’re in charge. The funny thing is, I think I learned that from my Bible heroes—or maybe I should say from my impression of my Bible heroes. But the truth is, they all had pretty messy lives...the ones I learned about and the ones I didn't.

Esau made last ditch efforts to reconcile himself to his father and mother. When he saw that his brother Jacob had been blessed and told to go to Paddan-aram and take a non-Canaanite wife, he realized just how much his own two Canaanite wives had perplexed his parents. So, in an attempt to search for the covenant—albeit in all the wrong places—he married a daughter of Ishmael.

Leah was the least loved and the least lovely of Jacob's wives. She had pretty good reason to be a little upset and discouraged but we see in her a spring of faith slowly coming up over time that is evidenced in the naming of her children. It was she, after all, and not Rachel that was the forbearer of the Messiah.

David was the man after God's own heart. But you know what, it wasn't because he was perfect. He slept with another man's wife, then had the guy knocked off to make things less awkward. All the liturgical advances, Messianic foreshadowing, and grand building schemes couldn't cover up the mess David got himself into. But ya know what, it's not what he did that made David the man after God's own heart, it's who he was. And being a quick and genuine repenter was a part of who David was.

No matter how much I "felt" as a child, I never got that lesson. People are messy. Heroes are messy. True heroes are quick and genuine repenters.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Good morning,

The sometimes checkered history of David offers hope for a raggedy old grampa like me.