This morning I was once again struck by a passage in 2 Samuel that always hits me to the core- but today in a very personal way. In 2 Samuel chapter 24 David calls for a census in Israel, which was something that God wasn’t pleased with at all. After the census was taken God sent the prophet Gad to David and told him what he probably already knew from growing up in Israel and being quite familiar with the law. There would now be a price to pay for David barreling through to perform the census. Gad was sent to David to give him three choices.
“Shall three years of famine come to your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days pestilence in your land?” (2 Samuel 24:13)
v14 David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
What a decision to have to make! We know David was a man after God’s own heart and he made his share of mistakes too. Yet, his heart was always tender to repent and return to God when he recognized his sin. David chose the three days of pestilence and said he’d rather fall into the hands of God instead of the hands of men, because God’s mercy was great.
And so for three days the Lord sent a pestilence on the land that took the lives of 70,000 men. Wow…the census that probably brought about a great sense of pride at the knowledge of all of the able-bodied, fighting men at David’s disposal should the need for battle arise, now robbed the nation of an even greater number of the very same men than the losses of battle may have ever brought about. It’s amazing how our pride causes us to trust in what we think we are holding in our hands when our pride is the actual thing that will rob us of every good thing we have if we aren’t careful.
And as the story continues, after so many lives were lost, Gad goes to David and tells him to raise up an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, where the angel of the Lord was waiting. When David arrived and offered money to Araunah, Araunah insisted on giving David the threshing floor, along with the oxen he needed for the sacrifice. But David said to Araunah,
“No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”
That scripture right there always burns to my core. How many times have I prayed, “God, please make this thing that I’m walking through simple. Please make this adoption process waaaay easier than the last one was.”
“God, please let this healing from years of trauma happen quickly. Please don’t make it hurt as much as I know it can hurt.”
That seems really shallow, but I’m just being transparent. In our fast-food culture we want the fast healing too. We don’t want to have to walk through the years of battles as an adoptive parent that can follow early neglect and trauma. We don’t want to still be scrambling five years from whatever we surrendered to Jesus, to see a battle won that we were sure would at least follow in a year of serious work and faith and fasting and obedience. We don’t want to still be standing for our marriages when we were sure it would only take a few months of steadfast faith and selfless love and the relief would come. We don’t want to commit to tithing and giving to others and find ourselves still struggling to make ends meet after a few years of such diligence…We are human. We want to see Jesus wipe his hand over our brokenness instantly and make it right, because we know he can.
But do we really want to bring an offering to the Lord that cost us nothing? Do we really want to see Jesus face to face and tell him how grateful we are that he made it so easy on us to surrender everything. “Thank you Jesus. Phew. I am thrilled you allowed me to feel absolutely nothing when I laid down ____.”
As much as I pray those shallow prayers sometimes, I don’t. I’m not sure there’s been one thing to this day that Jesus has asked me to surrender that has felt simple or even ever brought about some instant relief. When I laid down some relationships and hobbies that weren’t leading me closer to Jesus, it felt like the most difficult years of my life. But I saw more of Jesus than I ever had before. When I laid down a dream, and years of hard work toward a future I was sure was within my grasp…it was quite painful and attempted to come back to taunt me years later even when I knew I was fully walking out my God-given calling. When I surrendered the hugest thing that I ever thought I could, my hopes for my future and my picket-fence, fluffy christian life, to embrace the broken and hurting and bring them into my family, I surely only knew on a superficial level what I was giving to Jesus. But I did mean it, as much I understood at the time. I had no idea what it would cost me…how it would age me…or how much it would transform me. I also had no idea that it was possible to see that much of Jesus in my day to day life. I had no idea, and I am still learning…that there has been and always will be grace for every single step and day that follow whatever Jesus calls me to bring to His feet.
So when I’m changing the fifth stinky diaper from a nearly three and a half year old today, who is severely delayed due to her beginnings. When I am walking one of my children through the correct way to respond in a situation for, more than likely, the 3,000th time; when I feel like just getting angry at all of the junk everyone left all over the floor for me to clean up. And even when I’m feeling weak and there are whispers of lies that tell me to give up on a promise that I know is as true as the rising sun…I remember this passage. I remember my Jesus. I remember what beautiful things come from perseverance, and I am encouraged to keep on going with joy.
As small as my little life is, I never want to bring anything to Him that doesn’t cost me. Often times what we lay down is the very thing that brings about freedom for someone else. It’s true. Most people will never have any idea how much it cost you and I to lay down whatever we knew we had to bring to His feet. It may seem like it cost no one anything when someone around you sees what an amazing work God has done in your marriage. It may seem like it wasn’t such a big deal at all to the outside world. Isn’t that how we view the greatest gift ever given to mankind? The perfect sacrifice of our Savior that brought us right-standing with God cost our Father His son, and it cost His son His very life.
So when you’re walking out the days, months, and years that follow whatever you brought to the feet of your King…when it’s easy and exciting and when it’s challenging and uncertain, know that you are entertaining angels. Know that you are mimicking the very love that Jesus himself poured out in His sacrifice and there is no brighter light you can shine. Know that there is great reward for your perseverance and faithfulness. Know that even if you do not have a glimpse in this moment, the seeds are sprouting and a harvest will surely follow.
“I will never bring to you something that doesn’t cost me…”