God of War, Letting Go, and Moving On… (2 Samuel 12)

With the spring/summer gaming drought in full swing per the usual seasonal release schedule, there really isn’t much out there to distract one from the awareness of the launch of Sony’s blockbuster franchise “God of War”, now without all those pesky Roman numerals.  Sony has opted for a fairly bold move by significantly aging their signature hero, but we have seen that done before with Metal Gear/Solid Snake as a means of conveying a newfound sense of maturity and perspective for our hero, so that isn’t exactly breaking new ground.  The interesting choice, and the more compelling change, is in the addition of not just a companion, but a young SON for the previously “I walk alone” Spartan.  And that significantly changes the status quo, as any parent will gladly agree.

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This added sense of responsibility is obvious on the face of Kratos… this is a man who previously only wore the perpetually angry scowl of one who has been crop-dusted by an exceptionally lactose-intolerant man drinking a milkshake in an elevator going up to the 100th floor.  But now we see a very different side of him.  His growth as a character is predicated not on simply building up his skill tree of abilities and gaining additional strength or stamina, but in the act of allowing himself to be the protector and guardian of this young life.  Most of Kratos’ previous exploits had dealt with the ending of life, not preserving it, and with that Kratos has to finally let go of his stringent requirements of how life is supposed to be and allow for the chaos that an unpredictable addition such as this boy trying to become a man creates for both of them.

With the path Kratos is on, it would be easy to see the child as a liability in battle and a burden during travel.  Weaker, more vulnerable, and without the battle savvy forged from years of fighting countless wars with both men and monsters, one could be forgiven for considering that this puts a significant crimp in ol’ Kratos’style.  He isn’t exactly known for being a “team player”, after all.  But while he is far from a perfect father figure there is an important message found in the way that he not only accepts the challenge of shepherding this lightning rod for trouble that is his child,  but seems to find a way to thrive on it.

Now, I am going to jump somewhere with you, so buckle up.  Because I believe many of us (raising my hand here as well) often feel like that tag-along in our walk with God.  Our flimsy arrows seem so puny and pointless compared to His incredible power, and we so often can’t seem to stop mucking things up despite our very best efforts to please Him.  I snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory on a DAILY basis.  And many times the hardest thing for me to do is to let go of the mistakes I have made and try to learn a new lesson from my Father because I can’t stop dwelling on where I have failed.  So while He is eager to show me a new skill or bring me into a fresh battle I am still hung up on missing that deer with my bow and arrow in the tutorial.  And there is a solution…

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In 2 Samuel 12 we find the fallen King David fresh out of the darkest moments of his life.  He has sinned egregiously… lust, adultery, stealing, lying, murder… I’m pretty sure almost every one of the seven deadly sins was committed in the previous chapter during the Bathsheba affair except for maybe gluttony.  And that’s only because he was so busy with all the other sins he probably didn’t have time to pour himself a dozen bowls of Frosted Flakes.  But rather than focusing on his exceptionally heinous sins and the fallout from that, I want to draw your attention to how David responded to the aftermath…

2 Samuel 12:20-25 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.  Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him, and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

I want to untangle this for a moment… the quick context is that after David stole a man’s wife, committed adultery, and then had her husband murdered the Lord declared a punishment for David… a life for a life.  For the life he took and the shame he brought upon the Lord’s name, the child born from this affair would not live.  For an entire week David fasted and prayed for mercy from the Lord, but his prayers were not answered and the child passed away.  His servants were terrified at what would happen to their beloved yet flawed king at hearing this news… would he freak out?  Go on a rampage like the previous king and try to kill the messenger?  Fall into a bottomless depression or even attempt self-harm?  There was no telling… and no predicting what happened next.

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David MOVED ON.  He accepted both the punishment AND the forgiveness from the Lord given to him in verse 13.  He took a shower, changed his clothes, spent some time with God in WORSHIP (not whining)… and then he ate breakfast.  I’m guessing pancakes, but I will allow for it to be waffles depending on your Bible version.  And once he took care of that business, he went in to his new wife and “comforted her”… and we will just fast forward through that and say that they had another child shortly after the “comforting”.  This is a family column, after all.  Read Song of Solomon if you want THOSE kind of details.  The bottom line is that David did not spend the rest of his life wallowing in his terrible choices or even the consequences of his mistakes.  He truly repented before God and was TRULY forgiven.  And his next steps were exceptionally blessed by the Lord as his next child grew up to be the wise and wealthy Solomon and immediately after this David began his next successful military campaign.

His servants were astonished at how quickly he moved on, but that is the most important part to stop and consider.  Like David, most of us have no problem believing in God’s punishment.  To be honest, sometimes I actually WANT it because it satisfies my need to be chastened for my sins.  But David took one extra step that I know I personally miss so many times… he ALSO believed in the Lord’s forgiveness just as readily.  And he accepted that at face value and moved on with his life because he still had stuff to do.  I mean, he is the KING after all.  He has an important job… a war to win… and a destiny to fulfill.  And none of that was going to be accomplished by continuing to mourn over the sins he had committed and what that had cost.

It does not reduce the severity of our sin nor does it downplay the terrible repercussions of our sins to move on.  But continuing to live in that place DISRESPECTS that sacrifice of Christ on the cross to remove our sins from us as far as the east is from the west as well as prevents us from accomplishing what the Lord has for us next.  We all have sinned and fallen short, but we cannot remain in the tutorial level simply because we failed.  God knew the mistakes we were going to make when He planned our future as well as our destiny.  God knew it would be SOLOMON who took David’s place as king.  And he knew how David was going to get there, even if it was a horrific path he took.

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We have a loving Father who is guiding us on our path despite how useless we may seem in battle and how errant our arrows seem to fly.  If you are able to believe in God’s punishment and wrath, then you must also accept His love and forgiveness… for yourself as well as for others.  And He is ready for you to move on… you have so much left to do.  So don’t allow these bad decisions to join you on your next steps… go take a bath.  Put on a clean shirt.  Eat some pancakes.  Kiss a cheek and hug a neck.  And go take on the next boss fight without allowing that sin stain to linger in your mind.  Jesus’s blood was sufficient to remove all of it… past, present and future.  And you still have many more battles in your future that we need your head in the game for.

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