No book is a chapter
No chapter tells the whole story
No mistake defines who we are…
One day a gentleman came to my mother-in-law’s door saying that he could resurface her driveway for several hundred dollars. He told her, “I’ve been doing some resurfacing in the neighborhood and have enough supplies to do your small driveway.”
She and my sister-in-law had been discussing that very thing recently, so she said, “Sure, why not?”
After working a short time, the gentleman came back to the door to say that he had finished the job. Happy that he had done such quick work, she readily wrote him a check and continued about her day.
When my sister-in-law got home, she gingerly walked across the newly resurfaced driveway. But, something seemed amiss. It wasn’t until she spotted her own footprints on the floor, that she realized that the guy who had “resurfaced” their driveway had conned mom by pouring motor oil over the driveway not by laying tar.
She and mom immediately jumped in the car and headed to the bank to stop payment on the check. But, that con man had gone directly to her bank and cashed her check straightaway after leaving her place.
Mom was heartsick. Devastated. We all were. Not only had he conned her out of a significant amount of money. He had left her with a big mess to clean up.
We may think that kind of thing could never happen to us. But, catch any one of us off guard and we can be duped just like my mother-in-law…
Sometimes with much graver consequences. Like Jehoshaphat.
Yep. That’s right. I said, Jehoshaphat.
You may not be familiar with this king of Judah. But, he was one of the good ones. And that’s saying something, because there weren’t too many of them back in the Old Testament days. In either Judah or Israel.
The Bible describes him in 1st Kings 22:43 and in 2nd Chronicles 20:32 as a king ‘who did right in the eyes of the Lord.’ That’s because Jehoshaphat’s heart was devoted to the ways of God (2nd Chronicles 17:6). He sought God’s direction (2nd Chronicles 18:4). He implemented reforms. He removed idol worship from the land (2nd Chronicles 17:6). He raised up judges to act according to God’s standards (2nd Chronicles 19:5). He set in place spiritual standards, as well, teaching his people God’s Law (2nd Chronicles 17:9) and elevating godly men to the priesthood (2nd Chronicles 19:11).
Yet, like all of us, in unguarded moments, he, too, was fooled. One of those decisions cost him a fleet of ships (2nd Chronicles 20:33-37). But, the other nearly cost him his life.
You’ll find the story in 2nd Chronicles 18.
At this point in history, Israel was a divided nation. Jehoshaphat ruled over Judah with its capitol in Jerusalem. And in the northern reaches, Ahab ruled Israel whose capitol was in Samaria.
There wasn’t a lot of love lost between the two. Many folks saw the Israelites as renegades. And, they were right.
Yet, desiring peace between the north and south, Jehoshaphat paid Ahab a visit anyway.
Ahab took immediate advantage of the situation, asking Jehoshaphat to rally the troops of Judah to fight side-by-side with his army against an enemy of theirs.
After seeking wisdom from countless advisors that gave them the green light, Jehoshaphat wasn’t quite convinced that they should join forces. So, he asked for an advisor who spoke for God. Micaiah was his name.
He warned them both that God was not for this plan. He also said that if they went forward with this decision, Ahab would lose his life.
But, somehow, someway, Ahab convinced Jehoshaphat that Micaiah was a bit off his rocker and shouldn’t be trusted. So, to battle they went.
To make matters worse, Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to wear his kingly robes into battle, while he, himself would be disguised as one of the troops. Now, you’d think alarms bells would go off in Jehoshaphat’s head at this point…ding, ding, ding. But, no. He was duped.
And being duped put his life at great risk. Riding out in his kingly attire made him a bullseye. A target. Suddenly he found himself vulnerable. Open to attack. Exposed.
He should’ve known better. And the inevitable did happen. Jehoshaphat stuck out like a sore thumb, he was open game. But, just as the enemy descended upon him, he cried out to God. Not just a cry for help, but, a cry of realization of what a fool he had been. And God spared his life.
Ahab, on the other hand, was struck down despite his disguise.
Now, we may read this and think, “What a fool Jehoshaphat was!” And indeed, he was. In an unguarded moment, he fell for the con and was duped.
But, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we are a lot more like Jehoshaphat than we care to admit.
In unguarded moments, we don’t always stop to think about the ramifications of our actions. We fail to read the red-flag warnings. We trust when we should be guarded. We jump the gun. We make mistakes. And for some of us those decisions have been quite costly.
We’re all of us fallible. Human. Weak. Sin-stained.
Sometimes, we make bad decisions that knock us off the path we should be on… But no matter what, I know God is there to help me…to help me pull myself together and to get back up, and to help me keep moving forward on my journey through life…
The most precious thing about life in Christ, is that God sees past all those mistakes that we make. All of our poor decisions. All of those unguarded moments when we fall prey to the enemy’s enticing.
That’s because, when he looks at us, he sees us through rose-colored glasses, tinted by the blood of Jesus. (Pure Love, Lisa Harper)
Isn’t that relieving?
Despite our failures. Our unguarded, poor decisions. He sees us perfect. Whole. Sinless. Because of the Savior!
You may have made mistakes in your past. Careless mistakes. Financial mistakes. Risky mistakes. Hotheaded mistakes. Whatever those mistakes…remember dear ones, our mistakes do not define us.
The blood of Christ has now put us right with God...
For his Spirit joins with out spirit to affirm that we are God's children.
Romans 5:9a, 8:16