We have a family practice of asking each other, “What was your favorite part of vacation?” as we are driving back home. I remember asking our young children that question after a two week vacation here on the Outer Banks, when we lived in Atlanta. Everyone thought for a while and offered several favorites, but young Jamie was silent. Finally I asked her what her favorite part was, and she said in a cheerful and very innocent voice, “I think my favorite part was that the whole time, nobody told me to hurry up.”
Sweet Jesus in the morning. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that hurt. I was flooded with memories of the school year that just ended, and the numerous times EVERY DAY Jamie was told to HURRY UP. It still hurts. That simple statement in the car that summer changed me forever. Not to say I didn’t ever say it again, but I deliberately began to structure the morning in a way that wasn’t as hurried and rushed.
Have you ever had someone tell you the truth in a way that felt like taking a bullet straight to the heart?
Let’s talk about David for a moment. David was a very bored King. One day, he sees beautiful Bathsheba taking a shower on the roof of her house next door. Now, we have outdoor showers in most of the houses here on the Outer Banks, so outdoor showers don’t mess with our minds. But apparently Bathsheba’s didn’t have the required high walls around it like we have here, making it easy for David to enjoy the shower as much as Bathsheba did.
Though she was married to a soldier named Uriah, David summons her and takes her into his bed. Weeks later, she discovers she is pregnant, so David takes action and calls for Uriah to come home for a “conjugal visit”. (That’s a prison term: look it up.) But the faithful Uriah sleeps at the palace gate, protecting his King, and thus fails to conjugate the visit.
And so David sends poor Uriah to the front line of battle, where he is killed. And for a while, David thinks he has gotten away with it all. He was, after all, the King. And Kings think they can get away with things like lying, adultery, killings, and cover ups. But then comes Nathan.
Nathan is a prophet and a man of God’s choosing. He has been chosen to deliver a strong message of truth…a truth that David does not want to hear. But rather than hit it head on, Nathan tells a story of a horrible rich and privileged man; a man of great wealth, who owned lots and lots of animals. This man stole the only lamb of a poor man. The lamb was actually the beloved pet of the poor man, and the rich man took it and served it up for his guests’ dinner. (Sorry, vegans! It’s only a story!)
Hearing this truly awful story, King David rises up and denounces the rich man, and is incensed at the injustice:
2 Samuel 12:5-7 “Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”
And Nathan replied to David, “You are the man.”
BAM. There it is. Suddenly David is confronted with having to OWN UP. It was him, stealing the precious wife of a faithful soldier. He was the man.
We all come to a moment when God brings us to a time of OWNING UP to some behavior or sin we have committed. Perhaps we have many occasions where we stand with our feet on the owning-up precipice. God confronts us with a truth, lays it out bare before us, and we have to decide what to do.
The reason we are brought to a place of owning up is to find peace. David owned up to his sins and repented, and thus David received God’s forgiveness.
Where is God calling you to own up today? Where has the truth been revealed to you about your actions or behavior? God calls us to many things: repentance, a greater compassion for others, to stop hiding something and own up to the truth, or even just to develop a deeper relationship with him…where do you see yourself in the story?
God wants us to own up so that we might be changed. We are invited to respond with an answer like David and say, “It’s Me. I did it. Forgive me”. Confession, repentance and then pardon…it’s the only way to have true peace. But first, ya gotta own it.
Photo by Jamie Haas Mathis, who was not in any hurry when she took it in a church in Vernazza, Italy.