Staying with the Stuff

Soldiers who stay behind to guard the camp get as much as those who go into battle.  – 1 Samuel 30:24 (CEV)

Life can turn on a dime.

David, better than anyone, knew this. 

In today’s reading, he and his men have returned from battle to discover Ziklag, where they’d settled with their families, burned to the ground, and everyone—women, children young, and old—taken captive, including David’s family. David’s men blamed him for their loss.

“But David found strength in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). 

“Shall I chase after this band of raiders?” he prayed.

“Yes,” God told him. “You will surely recover everything that was taken from you.”

Somehow David convinced his men, who were talking of stoning him, to join him in his pursuit. However, 200 of the 600 men who set out stayed behind, too exhausted to go on. David and his warriors surprised the enemy, recovered everything that had been taken, and came home with a sizable plunder purse.

Which they didn’t want to share with the 200 who hadn’t gone along.

“No, my brothers,” David said. “Don’t be selfish with what the LORD has given. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. Who will listen when you talk like this? We will share and share alike—those who go into battle and those who guard the equipment.” 

I like the way the King James Version phrases that last statement: “so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff.”

Have you ever had to “tarry by the stuff” because you were too exhausted to go on, or because someone had to take care of things back home? 

One evening nine years ago during baseball practice, my 14-year-old grandson Brent suffered a compound fracture of the bone in his upper left arm in a violent collision with another player in center field. An ambulance transported him to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he underwent surgery the next morning. His parents spent the next three days with him in Pittsburgh. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Grandpa and I “tarried with the stuff” – two grandchildren, ages 6 and 10; Zoey, their 4-month-old Dogo Argentino; a couple dozen chickens, a goat, and a horse. We weren’t able to physically be with our loved ones during this crisis. But someone had to maintain the home front and what better someone than we who lived next door? 

As I pondered my role during my quiet time that week, 1 Samuel 30:24 came to mind. Both those who go forth to deal with the emergency and those who stay behind to guard the stuff have vital jobs in the battle of life. I not only got to spend precious time with my grandchildren and my “grand-dog,” bonding more with them, but also I was able to have Brent’s favorite meal waiting for them when they got home. 

Crises hit all of us. Sometimes it’s your job to go forth and fight. But if your role is to “stay with the stuff,” remember it’s just as important to guard the home front – with love, action, and prayer. 

Thank you, Lord, that we can find strength in You and turn to You for wisdom during crisis times, whether we go forth or stay with the stuff. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Samuel 30.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

What Kind of Flower Are You?

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. — Romans 12:12 TEV

My husband and I were at our church’s annual sweetheart dinner, and the men were taking a how-well-do-you-know-your-wife quiz. “What is your wife’s favorite flower?” was one of the questions. He wrote “roses.”

Roses are nice, but they’re not my favorite flower. I tried to come up with my own answer to the question, but the truth was I didn’t have a favorite flower. I didn’t know I was supposed to. I like all flowers, especially wild ones. 

I didn’t give the favorite-flower question much thought until years later. 

“I just love lilacs,” I told DH one day as we sat at the dining room table, the fragrance of lilacs filling the room. “They’re my favorite flower.”

But I had to qualify that.

“For fragrance, that is,” I added. “I like carnations because you can put them in water, and they last for weeks. And I like daisies because they’re such a happy flower.”

“You know,” I continued, “I want to be like those three flowers: fragrant like the lilacs, hardy like the carnation, and happy like the daisy.”  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized those three flowers also symbolize my faith. 

The lilac symbolizes my prayer life. Just as the lilac’s soft fragrance continually fills the air around it, so should my prayers ascend to God like the Old Testament sacrifices described as a “pleasing aroma,” a “sweet-smelling savor,” or a “fragrant offering” to the Lord. As I love to stand next to my lilac bush when it’s covered with blossoms, inhaling the heady scent, so I imagine God inhaling the sweet scent of my prayer offerings to Him. 

The carnation symbolizes endurance. Hardy, even for black-thumbed me, the carnation doesn’t need babied. But too often I’m like the rose—I want to be beautiful for God, but I have to be pampered if I’m to last. When life’s circumstances heat up, I whine, pout, and wilt. The Christian life isn’t a flower shop, where perfect conditions are cultivated for the flowers to thrive. It’s more like the world outside, where weather conditions can change in a moment, and endurance is necessary if I’m to thrive for God.

Finally, for me, the daisy symbolizes the joy that comes from hope. Such a little word and so often dwarfed next to its giant big brother faith, hope is my song in the night. It’s what keeps me going in the tough times, what keeps me putting one step in front of the other on this long, hard journey called life. Hope in my heart is what puts the smile on my face. Hope is knowing that although there may be tears in the night, joy will come with the morning light. And morning always comes.

 Lord, help me to be fragrant like the lilac, hardy like the carnation, and happy like the daisy. Amen.

 MORE TEA: Read and reflect on Romans 12.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. 

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