Today’s readings are 1 Kings 8-9 and Acts 8:1-25
One of the most difficult thing that I have to do as a parent is disciplining. It has a lot to do with the look that I get from my little ones when they realize that they have acted incorrectly and need to mend their ways. I want to cancel the consequence and hold their teared up eyes.
This past Sunday afternoon my whole family was in our SUV. Our little five year old had missed his nap and was running on fumes. He had been warned about yelling and starting fights with the older children at least twice. Finally the third intrusion on the law dropped down the gauntlet. One more outburst and his toy being used to annoy the other kids and he would be sentenced to a nap time (despite the fact that dinner and bedtime were quickly approaching). Alas, another offense was given and the sentence was declared. Realization swept over his face as his toy was handed to the sentencing judge and father. Stunned he stared looking forward in his seat looking for a loophole. When none could be found the tears came and came and came.
Now I really wanted to comfort my poor son. I longed to hug him and comfort him by lifting the punishment. However, what does he learn through this experience? If I give in, he knows next time he gets himself into a pickle he can merely look cute and turn on the waterworks. Presto. Instant “Get Out of Jail Free” card. No. He unfortunately must see that he will take responsibility for his actions. I must keep my distance through this time.
Where does this story fit in with 1 Kings? There is a tad bit of time spent on describing the length of the poles used for carrying the ark of the Lord. I find it interesting that the author had to spend time letting us know how long they were. No one was allowed to touch this sacred object. It was where the Lord dwelt with His people. Thus, it was really quite simple. A sinful (meaning someone who rebels against the commands and will of God of which we all fall under that category) person could not come in direct contact with a perfect God unless that person wanted instant death. The poles helped the priests whom carried the ark to keep their distance from the sacred object. The poles seemed to be so long that they almost stuck out of the room they were placed inside. This to me seems like a distant God. A God that I can’t get close to.
After the priests set the ark on its resting place in the newly created temple, they vacate the inner most holy room. God comes down in the form of a cloud and dwells within the inner room. The priests can’t get their work done (caring for the temple) because God’s perfection – His being was in the room. Again, sinful people could not come in contact with a perfect God unless your wish was an instantaneous funeral.
I see through these illustrations that God is a parent that is teaching us. I know. I know. We can see through 1 Kings that God is distant and mean and cruel. Isn’t that what a child who is in the corner thinks to himself? However, it’s my fault that I ended up in the corner in the first place. I’m the one who didn’t listen – I’m the one who rebelled. Isn’t God also still watching me as a parent knows the status of their child in the corner? However, the fact still doesn’t change that I don’t think I could stay under the rule of a God that is only a distant disciplinarian.
Let me tell you the end of my son’s story. After our SUV rolled into the driveway, all the occupants went into the house. My son still crying put on his pajamas. He came to me in the kitchen where I picked his tear stained little body up into my arms. I carried him to MY bedroom where he could take a nap with me. In this place he was safe in my arms and was calmed. As safety returned to his being the tears almost seemed to recede into his eyes. He slowly fell asleep as he received the rest that his worn out body desired and needed.
This is somewhat a picture of my God. Even though I have rebelled/sinned, He still is with me. He still sent His Son to die on a cross for my sins and He alone conquered death for me. The amazing part is that I can only walk through a punishment with my son but Jesus took the whole thing for us. Since Christ did this the Bible says that we are allowed to enter the same inner room that we were once distanced from.