About fifteen years ago, Tammi and I decided to put in a nice little flower bed behind the house. The plan was a “natural” looking bed that would be in the middle of our mowed yard. We pulled together some field stone we had collected and set it in a little circle, planted a Rose of Sharon shrub, and then we sat down to decide what we needed to add to finish off the bed. The final decision was to purchase and plant a wildflower mix. Sounded like a great idea.
That summer the flowers all came up, and it was really pretty. I believe the botanical terms for the flower mix was something like, “little yellow weed-like flower”, “little pretty blue flower that grows for one year and is never seen again”, “little purple flower that puts out a vine that chokes little yellow weed-like flower,” and daisies. That first summer was great, but the next couple years it just turned into a bed of daisies as they choked out everything else there.
Now I have daisies all over the place. They are in the pasture, in the hayfield, and in the yard. It’s not that they are not a pretty flower. They are a happy little flower, but let’s face it, folks, they are a weed. Yep. I said it. They are right up there on the list with dandelions. A happy little flower that runs rampant if you turn your back for even a second.
We never intended for this to happen. Our hearts were in the right place. We had good intentions… Yeah. How does that old saying go?
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
When the Israelites went into the Promised Land, a buzz began to go through the region. The cities and people had heard about Jericho and Ai and how the God of the Israelites was basically handing cities to them. This news made some cities band together to fight the Israelites, but for the people of Gibeon, a different plan was formed.
The leaders of Gibeon hatched plan to put on old clothes, take a bunch of rotten food, and go out to meet Joshua and the Israelites in hopes of tricking them. When they met the army of Israel, they told them all about how they had travelled such a great distance just to make a covenant with the Israelites. The Israelites asked, “How can we know for sure about that? After all, you could be trying to trick us!” The Gibeonites were ready with their defense. “Look! We are wearing old clothes and have old food!” I guess that was enough to satisfy their curiosity, because they went ahead and made a covenant with them.
Later on, the secret came out and the Gibeonites didn’t waste a second showing off that covenant. Israel was stuck, because they had made the covenant not only with the Gibeonites, but had made it by swearing to the Lord that they would honor it. If they broke their promise, they would be in violation of a covenant not only to the Gibeonites, but also to God. They had to honor it, so they put these people on the indentured servant list from that point on. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it.
A few things stick out to me here:
1. People who want to do wrong things, can present themselves in a way that not only looks right, but can get you to do wrong. – The Gibeonites were well aware that they were messing with God and His people. They knew they were going to fall just like Jericho and Ai, but they looked for a way to survive that did not require them to give in to God. Instead, they coerced God’s people and tricked them into doing the wrong thing in a binding way.
I’ve been a coercer and a coercee. Not proud of either one. At this point in my life I am much more aware of how my actions might pull someone else down with me. Just thinking about the other guy has gotten me to turn away from some decisions that were definitely not good. Not because I didn’t want to do them, but because I didn’t want someone else to suffer for my stupidity. I’m not calling that a victory, but at least I can call it progress!
2. When something smells fishy, take minute and look for the tuna! – The Bible says that the men of Israel did not seek the counsel of the Lord. They did ask couple questions about the Gibeonites, but then just looked at each other, nodded their heads and said, “Seems legit.” If they had taken a little more time and, I don’t know, said something like, “Hey! Why don’t we take minute here and ask God about this? It seems like He said something about driving everyone out, and these guys might just be trying to pull a fast one on us!”
Big, binding decisions NEED to be bathed in prayer and wise counsel MUST be sought. That’s not to say that you cannot live a life of abandonment to God, but I am seeing that most people who “impulsively” follow God are living a pretty close life with Him. So even though it might not make sense to you or me, it is painfully obvious to them that it is time to jump Overboard. (Shameless plug for my friends Joe and Traci.)
3. Bad decisions don’t always feel painful right away. – The Gibeonites knuckled under and went to work, but this was not the end of their story. They were a pain in the behind of the Israelites for many years, and their idols and way of worship were a part of what drove a wedge between the Israelites and God and eventually led to the kingdom of Israel being ransacked and the people exiled.
Those “wildflowers” we planted were pretty for a couple of years. Now, I look out across the pasture and I see a ton of work that is necessary to pull them so they won’t eventually just choke out the grass the horses eat. It’s ridiculous, and I’m pretty sure that a lawsuit is in order, but I threw the wrapper away so I got nothing to go on… No. If I had just asked some questions, read that label a little more closely, and thought about it for a few minutes I might have realized that the word “wild” has more than one meaning. It grows in the wild on its own, AND it is a voracious plant that will decimate anything around it!
Jessica came in the house with a nice little bouquet of daisies yesterday morning and said, “I thought I should pick some of these before you mow them all over.” I should have picked them all several years ago. If I had I would not be shaking my head about them now.
Relentless Living requires us to look at the things we are going to do and think about them. We might have the best of intentions, but if we are not in-line with God’s intentions, well…. Let’s just say that there is a better road to follow.