Now, THAT’s a Plan!

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established. – Proverbs 19:21 (RSV)

Now that I’m somewhere between “middle-aged” and “over the hill” (closer to over-the-hill than middle-aged), I look back on my life and view the unexpected—the things that interfered with my plans—quite differently than I did at the time they happened.

My father’s layoff from the steel mill when I was nine led to tough times that taught me resourcefulness and thrift. The broken engagement that shattered my heart when I was 20 freed me for when Mr. Right entered the picture a few months later. (We’ll celebrate our forty-seventh on Dec. 22.) An unexpected pregnancy with child number three altered our dreams for the future.

No, my life certainly has not gone the way I played it in my head when I was growing up. I’d dreamed of traveling the world, free as a bird, but the road I traveled was one of diapers, doctors’ appointments, piano and dance lessons, sporting events, school programs, occasional teaching gigs to help make ends meet, and endless dust, dishes, meals, laundry, forms to complete, and papers that needed my signature.

The road was neither well-paved nor well-marked. There were no signs warning me of a “rough road ahead,” “construction: expect delays,” or that I’d soon be encountering fog, blowing snow, ice, or severe crosswinds.

In the words of Louisa May Alcott in her classic Little Women, “My castle is very different from what I planned, but I would not alter it.” 

Although “into each life some rain must fall; some days must be dark and sad and dreary,” she adds in the closing words of her character, Jo, “I’m far happier than I deserve. … Fritz is getting gray and stout. I’m growing as thin as a shadow, and am thirty. We never shall be rich, and Plumfield may burn up any night, for that incorrigible Tommy Bangs will smoke sweet-fern cigars under the bed-clothes, though he’s set himself afire three times already. But in spite of these unromantic facts, I have nothing to complain of, and never was so jolly in my life.”

I echo her words: “I’m far happier than I deserve. My husband is getting grayer by the day, and I am growing stouter as I edge closer to 70. We’ll never be rich, and everything we’ve spent our lives building can be lost in the blink of an eye. Obnoxious people will plague our paths, anyone can sue us at anytime over anything, and the economy will continue to be as stable as a sputtering firecracker.

But in spite of these unromantic facts, I have nothing, really, to complain about. I have my hubby, wearing out though he may be. I have my three grown children, their loved ones, and nine grandchildren who fill my life with love and joy. And I am truly happy and at peace.

And, most important, I have God, the One who is control of all things at all times (1 Chronicles 29:10–12). His Word is the only road sign I need (Psalm 119:105). For I’ve experienced the truth of Romans 8:28. I’ve conquered fear with Romans 8:31–39. I’ve faced my own inadequacy and seen His adequacy in Isaiah 55:8–9.

And I’ve vanquished insecurity with Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Now, that’s a plan!   

As I light the third Advent candle, Father, I am reminded that Your Son came to give me a hope and a future. Help me daily to recognize and yield to Your awesome plan for me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 1:26–2:20.

© 2008 by Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Bathing Beauty or Bimbo?

. . . David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife . . . – Matthew 1:6 NIV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8–9

 Although she’s one of five women having the honor of being in mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, unlike the other four, Bathsheba’s name is not given. Matthew simply refers her to as “Uriah’s wife.”

In my humble opinion, she’s worse than Tamar and Rahab. She can’t even hold a candle to Ruth, whose story is like a polished diamond in the coal mines of the Old Testament. They had what Bathsheba lacked— brains, guts and heart.

When we first encounter Bathsheba, she’s taking a bath—in an uncovered courtyard of a house in the middle of Jerusalem, where anyone standing on a nearby rooftop (they were flat in those days) could see her. Perhaps that was her intention. You see, the courtyard where she was bathing was in plain sight of the rooftop of King David’s residence. Scripture tells us Bathsheba was very beautiful.

Now King David already had seven wives, including Saul’s daughter Michal, the wife of his youth, and Abigail, the spunky, quick-witted widow of Nabal. (Read this great story in 1 Samuel 25.) Nevertheless, he summons Bathsheba, knowing both her husband and her father were members of the elite group of warriors known as “David’s mighty men.”

She could have said no. She knew the commandments as well as King David did. But she didn’t.

You know the story. David arranges for Uriah’s death in battle. As soon the seven days of mourning for her husband are up, Bathsheba marries King David. The baby conceived in adultery dies soon after birth.

Fast forward to the end of David’s life. As he lay on his deathbed, his son Adonijah plans to usurp the throne. David’s chief prophet approaches Bathsheba with a plan.

“Go in to King David and say to him, ‘Didn’t you promise me my son Solomon would be king after you? Then why has Adonijah become king?’”

She does as told. Solomon is crowned that very day (1 Kings 1:11–39). Okay, so she secured the throne for the king God had planned. But it wasn’t her idea.

The last time we see Bathsheba, she’s the queen mother. The relentless Adonijah uses her in a plot to wrest the throne from Solomon.

“Ask him to do one thing for me,” Adonijah tells her. “Give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”

“Very well,” she says, clueless what this meant.

She should have known. Abishag was a part of David’s harem, and possession of the previous king’s harem signified the right of succession to the throne. By marrying Abishag, Adonijah would strengthen his claim to the throne. Good thing Solomon saw through the scheme.

Bathsheba possessed great physical beauty but little else. If it had been up to me, I would have chosen Abigail, who had more character, intelligence and spunk, for the honor of being an ancestor of the Messiah.

But God didn’t ask for my opinion.

Bathsheba bore David four sons, which included Solomon and Nathan. The wise and wealthy Solomon became one of Jesus’ ancestors through Joseph, his earthly father. Nathan’s line produced Mary, Jesus’ mother (Luke 3:31).

Bathsheba—bathing beauty or bimbo? Does it even matter?

What matters is that God chose her, not because of anything she did, but because of His own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9) to fulfill a promise He made to David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

This promise was fulfilled with Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.

Bathsheba’s story is one of mercy and grace. Mercy, because she didn’t get the punishment she deserved for her adultery and her part in David’s conspiracy to murder her husband. Grace, because she received something she didn’t deserve—a place in the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Mercy and grace—isn’t that what God’s all about?

“Thy steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, thy faithfulness to the clouds”( Psalm 36:5). Remind me of this, dear God, when I question Your love for and Your faithfulness to me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Samuel 11:1–12:24.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.