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As Subtle as a Bar of Soap

This morning as I visited my customary place of relief, I was struck by how far diminished the bar of soap in our guest bedroom restroom had become; a place where few visit. The bar had been worn away almost solely from my own daily use, a subtle record of my time, unwittingly recorded with each washing.

Why would I have such a thought?  That’s a question I am often asked by my family! Possibly this a.m., it was a result of my morning read in the Book of Kings, a literal obituary of the Kings of Judah and Samaria (Israel).  This legendary lot is here captured sequentially, with each one’s reign being used to prove the term of the other.  “In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign,” and so on.  I am amazed at how fast life passed for these men, given how little was recorded of each life in some cases. 

Life for me seems to accelerate with each passing year, and yet the opportunities within each fleeting day are enormous.  Life is both abundant with potential God moments and synonymous with the proverbial vapor that appears and then it is gone.  In the Book of the Kings, these men seem so expendable, almost as if their life served only as a record of time’s passing; often the only thing recorded was that they had failed to abandon the sins of Jeroboam.  You may recall the golden calves, offered as an alternative to the people when this politician was concerned that his followers, if allowed to make their annual trek to the temple in Jerusalem, might once again reunite with the King of Judah.  This small leadership decision, possibly made in a vacuum, created a riff in the lineage of David that had consequences for the nation for generations.

Why would these early morning thoughts cause such great personal angst that I would feel compelled to write?  Maybe I realize how brief life is, and how one poor decision can set into play something that becomes the primary for which one is remembered; worse yet, that poor decision can have a generational impact on the lives of others.

For what other purpose was all this biblical recording, surely more than some simple historical listing of the Kings?  I think perhaps it provides a point of spiritual connection, given the dilemma of time with all humanity?  Israel, a micro-study of humanity, would be lost in time until 1948; Judah, would be the only fruit of David’s loins held in posterity after Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, split the kingdom. 

That’s interesting, why was the tribe of Judah preserved, a man notorious only for his sins against his own daughter in law?  Again, the age old story of our brokenness may be the objective?  It seems that few of us have the good character of Joseph, the one son of Israel (Jacob) who did things right, though he goes somewhat uncelebrated by the Word.  Perhaps, the Bible is not about celebrating our goodness, but guiding us toward the solution to our brokenness, the good news of Jesus Christ whom I believe Joseph’s life truly forecasted (another story). 

How could this one tribe, Judah, endure for generations until Israel would be re-established?  How did Jacob know to name this son, as the one who one day would provide a Lion from his loins? 

Can you not begin to see the awesome picture of redemption unfolding in what would otherwise be nothing more than a regal obituary listing?

Why do I think this way this early in the morning, it can’t be good?  Unless, these early morning cerebral juggernauts are preparation for a day of impact and an awareness of the consequences of each decision, given how fast the “soap bar of life” grows thin!

Carpe diem!

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