Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades- II Kings 12

And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places. II Kings 12:2-3

The last couple of inches on a window is always the toughest to close. Why is it so hard to FINISH?

It was said to me that character is the ability to carry out a resolution long after the emotion is gone.

I wrote in a blog a few years ago:

At football practice, we talk a lot about being a ‘line toucher’. This is a reference to running gassers or other drills where a player has to touch a line before changing direction. We always station coaches at these marks to check for athletes that may miss the line and come up short. This is a severe penalty to us. Players who miss reps or don’t finish will usually fall short under pressure, when the game is on the line. 
Jehoash was not a finisher.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 20 hHis servants arose and made a conspiracy iand struck down Joash in the house of jMillo, on the way that goes down to Silla. 21 It was kJozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of kShomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, land Amaziah his son reigned in his place.
 We would rank Jehoash as a good King- but his work was left a bit shy. He did good work- especially under the influence of Jehoiada the priest- but when the influence went away... Jehoash finished just a tad shy of a great work.

I wish I could report that I was better. The haunting of 'not finishing' has always intrigued me. Years ago (1990) I wrote a poem that tried to use the analogy of all the coffee cups on my desk as symbolic of my lack of a finishing drive.

One day I was just overwhelmed with half finished projects and a jumbled maze of excited beginnings in a sea of these half-filled, unfinished cups of coffee.

Here is my rendition:

Quarter - filled Cups of Coffee
”I have measured my life in coffee spoons” -Prufrock“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.What advantage does a man have in all his work which he does under the sun.”Ecclesiastes 1: 2,3

Quarter - filled cups of coffee,Shadowed stains below the band.Cooled liquid, thick and soiled,Etched foam, marked by hand. 

Appearance of apparent progress,Concrete marks of constant time.Accompanied by piles of paper,Crumpled calendars, plans sublime. 

Of what reward do hours meed?Riches and honor untold?What state does watched time translate?Unused potential to save and hold? 

Three - quarter empty cups of coffee,Symbols unfinished and undone.Epochs spent on early ambition,Numerous laps short, the race not won. 

Lurking depths of unrequited desire,Taciturn anger behind the smile,Endless action churning piles of perception,Steps no closer to the next mile. 

Will the minutes always last?What price is one to pay?When activity is ambiguous and prostitutedand success is a shade of gray.

The trap has sprung inescapable.The suction stronger than my will.No one there to loose or care,Fractions of effort to close the sill.

Those dreams seem marathons away.No tunnel light, no ray, no rule.Only a vast wasteland of utopian ideas and funny ambition.I laugh at myself - the fool.

Now- the good news is that I have, with God's help, gotten so much better in the discipline needed to finish well. But there are still challenges.

My new job is interesting because there is a way I can do it as far as just hitting the transgression- what I call the 'whack a mole' technique.

But I feel God calling me to a deeper role. One that takes a lot of time and is messy at times. And that is seeking to see Him create renewal from the inside out.

Of course I have to hit the moles- HARD- and they always pop up.

So unlike Joash- I am asking God to help me go after the high places as well. Sins of idolatry and cynicism. I'd love to see Him change mockers into mourners over sin and create new hearts.

It is easier to just get everyone in a line and march. It is easy to just cast off the ones who can't. And yes, there are times it has to be done for the sake of others.

But Lord, my cry is to see real change in our nation... one heart at a time.

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