Snapshots: Day 202
The Snapshot: “the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Sam 15:35b) This is a strange verse, the counter-balance to Samuel mourning for Saul. There are two aspects of God we need to understand. First there is the God who stands outside of time and sees and knows everything from beginning to end – the God who knows. But then there is the God who dwells in time and space and shares in our world. This God (the same one, don’t misunderstand) acts as if He were experiencing it for the first time and almost appears surprised by what happens. He had chosen Saul because that’s what the people had wanted – they had to learn. Yet, despite all He does for Saul, Saul doesn’t live up to the possibilities. God is sorry it had to be that way. Grieve with Him.
Further Consideration: So let’s think on some more about this God who chooses people yet can regret it. I happened to be reading Luke 6 and was struck by verse 35 that speaks about God: “he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” These are the people God has to deal with; we’re all like this in some measure or another. One day Jesus amazingly healed ten lepers and only one came back to say thank you (Lk 17:12-19). I say again, these are the sort of people we are. When we first come to Christ we are often full of praise and thanksgiving but the ordinariness of daily life seems to dissolve that and we come to take these amazing lives for granted – and God knew we would be like that. We have to learn afresh the wonder of who we are and come to appreciate life – and especially our Christian life- afresh.
The truth is that some of us will step out in lives of incredible faith, men or women who, “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword.” It is worth reading the whole of that passage in Hebrews 11:33-38, these were people who were outstanding in the faith. But let’s be honest, they were exceptions, most of us live lesser lives – significant nevertheless – lives that are not so startling, but they are lives of faith. And then there are some who draw back and the Bible isn’t shy of talking about them (e.g. Jn 6:66), they are the prodigals who left the fold. Now here’s the thing: God feels differently about each one according to what He finds in us. Yes, some He will rejoice over, some He will grieve over, some over whom He will be angry. He feels, He has emotions and He expresses them. Here’s the other thing: you and I have the ability to bring joy or grief to our heavenly Father by the way we live, the way we respond to Him, or not. God calls many, but the way they work out is not guaranteed, for we each have free will. Challenging!