It’s How You Finish

1Kings 2: 1-3 (the message)
When David’s time to die approached, he charged his son Solomon, saying, “I’m about to go the way of all the earth, but you–be strong; show what you’re made of!  Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths he shows you: Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts, his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; then you’ll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.

At the beginning of 1Kings we see King David approaching death.  He had promised Bathsheba that their son, Solomon, would be appointed the next king of Israel.  Remember Bathsheba?  Bathing Beauty Bathsheba that David had brought to him and with whom he had committed adultery.  The same Bathsheba who became pregnant and so in the end David had her husband, Uriah, murdered.  That Bathsheba!  The child that was conceived in their adultery did not live, but they married and in time as David repented and walked out the mess they made God blessed them with Solomon.  Well, I could get started right here but I want you to see this other verse that brought a sting to my eyes this morning…

1Kings 2: 19
Bathsheba went to King Solomon to present Adonijah’s request. The king got up and welcomed her, bowing respectfully, and returned to his throne. Then he had a throne put in place for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

Do you think Bathsheba would have ever imagined being honored in such a way?  She was approaching her son to make a request of him on behalf of his half-brother.  As Solomon received her he had a throne brought in for her to sit on while they spoke.  This really touched my heart this morning!  David had multiple sons, sons that had been born of wives he had taken without such tarnished circumstances.  I thought to myself this morning…why was Solomon chosen?  Because Solomon would do as David commanded above…he would would walk in the paths God showed him.  But what made Solomon that son?  Was it because in fact Solomon’s mother was thrust upon the family as part of a “clean-up” from a catastrophic mess?  Did David love Bathsheba?  What, in God’s eyes, made Solomon the son to follow in David’s footsteps?  Brokeness, a willingness to trust and obey, perhaps?

Here is what I imagine…Bathsheba and Solomon are the “outsiders.”  She has a “colored past” and Solomon also takes the brunt of it as her son.  Can you just picture how the other wives and sons treated them? Perhaps Solomon did not grow up with this great expectation that he would ever be chosen as the next king.  Maybe Solomon did not practice exacting his rights or importance…maybe he was the one that didn’t clamour for position.  After all, look where he got his start in life.  Look at the circumstances that brought his mother into the household.  Not a lot to be “proud” of…

Solomon is chosen as the next King and Bathsheba finds herself upon a throne next to her son.  Take a minute to absorb it.  This woman had been a part of David’s greatest shame.  She wasn’t the brightest jewel in his crown!  She is part of the story, however,  that I am most thankful for in the life of David…humanity’s hot mess and sweet redemption. Because in the end, Bathsheba’s ugly start brought her to a stunning finish.

See, it’s not how you start.  It’s how you finish. 

Maybe you feel stuck or ashamed.  Maybe you don’t see much to be excited about in your life.  Maybe it’s a result of your choices or maybe it’s been at the hands of others.  Most of the time it’s a mixture of both.  I think we spend a lot more time looking back with regret and then simmering in our pits than God wants us to.  He sees it all, of course.  But what if your nasty circumstances make you desperate?  What if your ugly past or current situation leads you to brokeness?  By brokeness I simply mean shattered pride.  Our choices in life can be as ugly as adultery and murder and God can still grow a king from our life when we become humble and teachable.  When we truly repent and make a new choice…to do what God tells us to do. 

Let me tell you about a rough start set on a strong finish.  My husband and I married at 24.  We had been out of fellowship with God, both of us, as we dated and married.    When you aren’t letting God flow in your life because you are stopped up with sin the result will be a selfish, please me, mentality.  That is a fact.  You might be a “nice” person but nice as long as you get your way and everyone makes you feel good!  The only way you can live a life that puts others first, truly, is through the power of Jesus in your heart.  My husband and I were, as speaker Chipp Judd puts it, “two ticks and no dog.”  We were just two completely self-absorbed, broken people trying to make the other fill needs and heal wounds that only God could heal.   We were both confrontational, angry, seriously hurt and we grew weary fast.  Neighbors heard us scream most likely, things were broken, clothes were thrown out onto the porch and the threat of divorce was a regular mantra.  Names were called, intimidation and manipulation were weapons of war and the pit grew deeper and deeper.  I can remember counting as the weeks went by without a major blow-out (and any infraction turned into a blow-out) and I would be excited when we reached three!  There were words spoken that were tearing us to shreds.  Words are very powerful.  Our home felt like a pressure-cooker.  We were living in strife.  If you don’t really grasp how dangerous strife is in your life let me give you a mental picture…it’s like a trench that is dug between people.  It’s gets wider and deeper and it is very painful.  So much so that once you get to a place of real strife it takes a miracle to cross the divide because you are just trying to survive the pain.  This went on for years.  Even after our children were born we still struggled with it.  We wanted to be better and deep inside we loved one another but we had sucked the life out of each other and come up empty.  Our goal became to not damage our children.  I know what divorce does to children and although it was a serious consideration at times, I wouldn’t do it.  God would not let us do it.  When we came down to a thread to hold onto, it was always Him.  God would send a guest speaker to church to talk about forgiveness or how God loves a comeback.  Or the time Shannon suddenly grabbed my hand and we took a humbling walk to the front of our church for prayer.  Or one Sunday as I drove to church I cried out in my heart “Is there any hope, God?” and before Pastor Matt even started to preach he said…”God wants someone here to know there is hope.” Yes! That, my friends, is God…He always reaches out with healing and redemption in His hand.  If you aren’t in a life-giving church you are missing out.

Now let me give you another picture:  last night my husband made us dinner.  We sat on the sofa, just the two of us, listening to some music as I rested my head on his shoulder.  Even in that moment, before I knew I would be writing about it today, I thought about the miracle of our marriage.  We are good to each other now.  Our marriage is healing.  We have been turned and set for a strong finish.  How?  Honestly, our marriage “broke” me.  If it hadn’t been so devastatingly difficult I wouldn’t know Jesus like I do today.  We were a mess because of issues we both brought to our marriage and the sin in our lives.  We couldn’t survive it on our own…so it “broke” me.  I desperately needed change to come and so as God whispered to my heart…ask his forgiveness…I would grit my teeth and go do it.  As God would whisper to  my heart…get up and make his coffee…I would stumble out of bed.  As God whispered…don’t disrespect him…I would hold my tongue or accept his preference…and most difficult, as God whispered…forgive him again…I did.  Have I been obedient every time?  No.  But every time we choose to yield to God’s way it brings us closer to Him and each other.  There is no magical fairy dust for life…trusting God’s way, obeying Him, is what brings change.

It would take a while to share our entire story so far…but what I want you to see is that nothing is impossible with God.  And no shameful or impossible situation is wasted if you will yield to God.  Go ahead and hurt…let it break you.  Give up the idea you can manage it yourself, but don’t give up!   

The Bible says God rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Life doesn’t have to be cleaned up and pretty for you to start seeking Him.  Seeking Him is what cleans your life up.  As I finish this post I stop to check my phone…I just got a text from my husband and you know what it says?  “I love you.”  However impossible things look for you, my husband’s heart toward me now is proof positive of what the love of God can do…will do…rememeber, it’s not how you started.  It’s how you finish.

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