Uncontrollable Outcomes

photoOne of the longest afternoons that I can remember was caused by one little bird…can you believe that?

When I was in high school I helped my grandfather on his farm during the summers.  One day right after lunch I remember someone looking out the window towards the neighbors house and yelling ‘FIRE!’.  We had been taking a little after lunch siesta and so it took a minute for everything to catch up before it registered that there was smoke billowing from the neighbors property. Several hours later, with the help of dozens of neighbors and fire departments, that one fire ate up thousands of acres of pasture land.

It was decided that a bird got itself into an electrical transformer, caught on fire and fell to the ground then starting the surrounding weeds and grass on fire. One bird, in one bad place, had one uncontrollable and unforeseeable outcome. 

Read 2 Samuel 11:2-15 sometime. You probably know the story…it’s the one that got King David forever labeled with Bathsheba. He’s up on his roof at night and realizes that there’s this beautiful woman bathing a couple houses down. He sends for her, probably many times over the course of time, and sleeps with her. All the while her husband, Uriah, is off fighting a war for this King who is now laying with his wife.

This goes on, no one really knows how long. Bathsheba sends word back to the King…’I’m pregnant.’ What was a normal day in the life of David has now turned into a bit of a situation…The King is having a child with the wife of one of his soldiers. So, David thinks he can control the outcome of this.

David calls home Uriah.  They make small talk and then David sends him home to his wife, hoping they would be together and take care of this little problem of David’s for him.  But Uriah is a stand-up guy. He knows there are many men still out fighting, not spending the night with their wives. So Uriah camps out by the palace gates with the guards.

Round 2.  David tries again the next night, only this time gets Uriah drunk so he wouldn’t think straight.  But once again, Uriah does the right thing and bunks up with the guards.

Round 3…David has to control this. Verse 14 & 15 tells that David sends a note to Joab, the leader of David’s army, commanding Uriah to be put on the front lines of battle and the rest of the men to pull back securing Uriah’s death once and for all.

Outcome Controlled

David, like you and me, had one thing happen after another that led to a much bigger outcome that he tried to control. We get into places in our lives where we need to control the outcome of situations because they have gotten so bad. See, we get into places we shouldn’t because we refuse to allow people into our lives.  We put up walls or push back when asked because we don’t like ‘getting close’ or revealing too much about ourselves.  And then when crap hits the fan, we find ourselves trying to control situations by ourselves because we have isolated ourselves from everyone around us…we tried to live independently from everyone else.

We are made to be in relationship.  Read the Bible…You can’t read in there that someone following Jesus wholeheartedly is doing so solo. Nearly everything that Jesus talked about in the Gospels is about our relationships with either God or each other.  The 10 Commandments, about our relationships with God or each other. The fruit of the Spirit…evidence of the Spirit in us towards each other

But somewhere, sometime, someone put this idea in our heads that our relationship with Jesus was to be lived alone. We buy that idea all the time.  David did too.

In walks Nathan…

So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him:

There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.[a]

David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.”

Nathan replied to David, “You are the man!… (2 Samuel 12:1-7a)

David is mad…should be mad at himself. He had to have known that this was all about him and what he tried to control by himself.

Nathan goes on to tell about the chaos that will be consequence for what David did.  Bathsheba’s baby dies, David’s sons go to war with each other and David jumps in there too, one son kills the other. David’s family and life are altered because of this.

This isn’t one of those things that just happens to people in the Bible.  We all, every one of us, have the potential to get ourselves into a similar situation. Maybe not this specific situation, but a situation that will bring life-long consequences for ourselves and others.  We all have that potential.

But here’s the twist…it could have, SHOULD HAVE, been avoided.

Verse 1 of 2 Samuel 11 (where we started this story at).

In the spring when kings march out to war

In this time of history it was normal for Kings to march in war with their men.  (It’s what William Wallace wanted to see from Robert the Bruce in Braveheart.) So it was not normal for kings to stay home during this season…

…David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel…but David remained in Jerusalem.

David’s problem didn’t start on the rooftop that night…it started when he removed himself from the community he should have been with in the first place. When Kings would go off to war, just like when our men go off to war now, relationships are built with each other.  Guys learn things about you that they wouldn’t normally know.  Kings would become more assessable, more transparent, more dependent than ever…

And David chose to stay home.

I don’t care who you are, how long you have been a Christian or what church you pastor.  When we remove ourselves from real community around us, we run the much higher risk of getting into situations we should never have been in to begin with. Allowing people into our lives allows them the opportunity to speak truth into what they see happening in our lives.

You don’t know what will happen this year, this month or this week…

This is most important.  As you are settling into your routine of school and family and jobs and everything else going on, its really going to be tempting to just say no to this.  You will have every reason to not do this. But what I know is that we are not that different from each other and from David…we need people in our lives that are intentional about asking how we are really doing, being there when we need support and being other eyes into our lives when we dont see something wrong happening. David needed this.  I need this.  We all need this.

Are you willing to give people access to  you? 


One response to “Uncontrollable Outcomes

  1. It’s funny – the older I get and the more accessible I am, via work, grad school, online, cell phone, etc., the more I want to be less accessible. Instead, I want to unplug from the world, go home and open a book, turn on Netflix, or just go to bed.
    This is actually pretty much exactly what I needed to read at this point, before I get too far down that path.

    Thanks, brother.

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