MISPLACED VALUES: RIGHT SENTIMENT, WRONG EXPRESSION

By Lisa Huddleston

Lazy porch cats.

Lazy porch cats.

Settling in to a summer routine–or any change in my routine–is always hard for me. My semester of classes has ended along with the discipline it required. Vacation is already behind me. Now it’s just me, the chickens, cats, dog, and a long, hot summer. Discipline is much harder to maintain when it’s just me and the animals. They rather like me to be lazy and hang out on the cool porch with them, but I know there’s only so much of this kind of life I can take before I lose momentum.  As Chuck says to me quite often, “Lisa, you don’t do nothing well.” And, as usual, he is right.

So I decided a good place to start this day was in the Word. I picked up my “reading” Bible and found my pencil stuffed in between Judges 16 and 17–right where my pastor’s sermon ended this past Sunday. Interesting only because this is not my “Sunday” Bible (HCSB) but my “reading” one (The Message). “Hmm,” I pondered and started reading Judges 17. A very short chapter that I almost breezed through and ignored, but then I wondered what Pastor Jim would be doing with it this coming Sunday, and I lingered. I’m glad I did.

As I considered the three short and, at first glance, unrelated stories I realized what connected them. All three demonstrate what happens when we are left to our own devices: when we have no king and do whatever we feel like doing (see 17:6). All three tell tales of misplaced values–seeking to do the right thing, but going about it in the wrong way.

The first story tells about a son returning some money that he has stolen from his mother, because he is afraid of her curse. The mother receives it joyfully and blesses her son saying, “I had totally consecrated this money to God.” So far so good. But then she adds, “For my son to make a statue, a cast god.” She then gives it to a sculptor who makes an idol for them to worship. What?!

Story number two introduces us to Micah, a man with a private chapel, an ephod, some idols, and a son whom he has ordained to serve as his priest. Okay–there’s all kinds of wrong in this story, but wait, there’s more.

The third part of this chapter tells us that a young Levite from Bethlehem shows up at Micah’s house while seeking his fortune. Micah is thrilled to accommodate him and hires the Levite to act as his “father and priest” for ten pieces of silver a year and room and board. I don’t know how Micah’s son felt about this, but the Levite moves right in and becomes a part of the family. Micah sums it up by saying, “Now I know that God will make things go well for me–why, I’ve got a Levite for a priest!”

Oh my–what was wrong with those people?

The first story is about misplaced  funds. The mother has consecrated her money to God, but she ends up spending it on gods. The second story describes a man who cares a great deal about worship, but he privatizes it to such an extent that even God wouldn’t dare set foot in his “private chapel.” Misplaced worship, for sure. And, finally, story number three is a tale of misplaced trust. Micah delights in his certain security not because he trusts in God, but because he has a “Levite for a priest!”

Misplaced funds, misplaced worship, and misplaced trust. Well, “In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” Right? Quite true, and quite descriptive of our culture today.

What misplaced values am I demonstrating? Financially? In how and what I choose to worship? In whom or what I am placing my trust? I’m afraid the answers to those questions may not actually be far off from those shown in Judges 17. Certainly I too spend money on idols, I too want to worship in ways that suit me best, and I too place my trust in people or things that are not eternal and cannot really provide me with security. Ugh.

What was wrong with those people? What is wrong with me? I know that the answer to both of these questions is the same. Sin (selfishness, pride, and so on).

Glad I didn’t just breeze through this little chapter this morning after all. It was worth the second and third look, and I’m sure I’ll be pondering it for the rest of the day.

Father, be my King. Give me the desire to follow your holy ways: to spend my resources where you lead, to worship in spirit and truth, and to trust in you alone. Amen.

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IT’S OVER ALREADY??

By Lisa Huddleston

Harbour Town, SC

Harbour Town, SC

Last week was our annual family trip to the beach–or at least with as many of the family as could make it. This year the trip included our daughter, Sarah, her husband, John, and our younger son, Nick. Older son, Chad, and his wife, Heather, couldn’t join us this time, but hopefully we’ll rope them back in next year. (Missed you, Chad and Heather!)

 

Another happy addition to this year’s trip was the long-awaited return of the Karl Huddleston family plus one, Anna’s boyfriend. It has been roughly ten years since we were all at the beach together, and it was lovely to see how easily we slipped back into the daily routine meeting every morning on the beach (anytime before noon counts as morning, right?) and then regrouping either for dinner or dessert most evenings. Afternoons were spent biking, walking, napping, reading or shopping. Lazy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

John, Sarah, Nick, Derek, Anna, Laura, and Amy

John, Sarah, Nick, Derek, Anna, Laura, and Amy

And now it’s over. Sad doesn’t even begin to describe that. What is it about time, and it’s flying faster and faster the older one gets? Oy. I guess the only good part about that phenomenon is that next year’s trip will probably be here before I know it, and I can already start counting the days.

Karl and Sandra, Chuck and Lisa

Karl and Sandra, Chuck and Lisa

 

 

 

 

Who knows what next year will bring? With all that was the same about this year’s vacation, I couldn’t help being struck by the differences that have occurred since we had been at the beach with Karl, Sandra and their girls.

One obvious change, all of us have gotten much older–even the kiddoes!

In their case, I really think that change was for the better (no offense, guys). No longer did we have six children running hither and yon or whining at dinner or crying when all we wanted was to take a simple photograph. It was such a joy to be with young adults who were just happy to be out of college or out of the office and sitting on the beach. What a blessing!

Saving our spots!

Saving our spots!

Regarding us older folks, well, the ten years showed on us, too, but not quite in the same positive light as it did on the younger generation. However, graying or thinning hair, spotty skin, widening waistlines, and roadmap wrinkles are only shallow judges of true beauty. Pshaw! I truly think the four of us are better for the wear and tear when we consider the wisdom we have gained–and hope to use in the next few years when we bundle grandchildren off to the beach. (Hint, hint)

Who cares if someone cries in a photo or spills blue ice cream down his or her Salty Dog t-shirt? We know now to savor each moment, because it really is “all good.”

They say you can’t step into the same river twice, and I know that is true of the beach as well. But, I am thankful for sweet traditions and memories that last week and the many, many weeks before that have built.

Now–only 354 days to go!

Happy Mother’s Day!

8mxzvvnxljtidz0hwxngfre6czr826fjBy Lisa Huddleston

I just read–really glanced at–a blog post by Anne Lamott regarding Mother’s Day and its artificial emphasis forcing children to acknowledge the wonder of their mothers. While I get where she’s coming from, I do kind of want my kids to say something to me on this forced, commercial, artificial day of recognition. And, thankfully, I know that they will.

That being said, I do understand the pressure that these crafted holidays impose on us all. I am simply wrung out. I have had birthday parties, graduation parties, and gatherings of many diverse kinds. I have finished two semester-long classes with final exams and projects. And the thought of planning another meal to celebrate anything just about does me in. So instead of making a meal, I am making reservations! We, Chuck and I, are taking our dear mothers out for dinner tomorrow night to a local restaurant we enjoy, and then my sweet, smart children are taking me out Sunday evening for a meal and a concert by Phin (Nick’s band) at 3rd and Lindsley. Breathe out … yes. It really is ALL GOOD!

I hope you have a breathing out moment of goodness this weekend as we celebrate motherhood from every angle. Blessings my friends!