Son of a None

Have you ever let your anger get the better of you? I have. It happened on a day when I had not had much sleep for weeks due to raising two small children while being a full-time seminary student and working part-time at a church. On that morning I allowed my exhaustion to turn into anger. The five-year-old defied my directions to get ready for school and was having tantrum of her own. Between the two of us, it was the perfect storm in the house that morning. I had no patience and she had no self-control. So the part where shoes had to be put on or the bus would be missed became a WWE wrestling match. We rolled around on the floor as I tried to cram shoes on flailing feet as she wailed in protest. Because I was bigger, I won. She made the bus on time.

IMMEDIATELY guilt became the second challenger in the ring and in no time at all, it gave me a one-two knock out. I was miserable when I realized that I had allowed my anger and frustration to be the way I touched my child before sending her off for a long day at school. So after I dropped the three-year-old off at preschool, I drove to the school and asked the teacher if I could speak to my daughter in the hall. I’ll never forget the crushing humility of being on my knees and apologizing for how the morning had gone. I told her that Mommy was sorry for her angry hands.

In typical kid-fashion, my child hugged me and told me it was all right. She had forgotten all about it and was so happy to see me in school, and would I come in the room so she could show me off to her friends? I learned a great lesson that morning and never again did I let my frustration and anger be expressed in my hands. My voice, yes, but never my hands.

Today’s lectionary passage ends the Moses saga that we have been following for months. The great leader who singlehandedly brought a huge nation from slavery in a foreign land to the Promised Land has died.

The leadership reins are now passed to a young fellow named Joshua. All we know about him is that he is the son of Nun and that Moses had “placed his hands on him.” The first fact is a big nothing. Being the son of Nun was akin to being the son of none. But the second statement is everything. The “placing of hands” is an indication of the conference of power, an anointing of a kind, and a visual statement to the nation that this is the new leader who has been chosen not only by Moses, but by God.

Kings are empowered this way. Popes and Bishops receive their authority by a laying on of hands. Even local pastors feel the hands of the church’s authority on ordination day.

Deuteronomy 34 (Common English Bible)

Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyesight wasn’t impaired, and his vigor hadn’t diminished a bit.

Back down in the Moabite plains, the Israelites mourned Moses’ death for thirty days. At that point, the time for weeping and for mourning Moses was over.

Joshua, Nun’s son, was filled with wisdom because Moses had placed his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to Joshua, and they did exactly what the Lord commanded Moses.

How are you using your hands today? Do they communicate gentleness and love, or anger and hostility? Can your hands be employed to confer kindness to someone else? What would God do if you gave your hands and your heart completely over to him?

Do this right now: lay your hands palms up in your lap, and pray for God to use them for his purposes. May the work of your hands be pleasing to the Lord this day and may they be anointed with love always.

A New Day by Bev Mineo

Being the Runt

The Lectionary passage today takes us back to the time when a new king of Israel was to be selected from among the sons of Jesse. Samuel was in charge, and as he looked over the fine specimens standing in front of him, he assessed them by their height and physical appearance. Watch what happens:

1 Samuel 16 (The Message)

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!”

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.”

11 Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”

“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”

Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”

12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.

God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

The runt, of course, was David, who is still thought of as one of Israel’s most powerful kings. And he wasn’t even in the running.

Have you ever felt like that?

I suspect that one of the greatest roots of sibling rivalry is feeling inadequate in comparison to one’s siblings. If your sisters and brothers are good-looking over-achievers, you may have grown up feeling like the runt of the family. I know a very accomplished third-born who, in his 50’s, was still comparing himself to his high-achieving older sister and brother and calling himself “the runt.”

Isn’t it good to know that there are no runts in the family of God?

This story reminds us that God sees all of our potential, beauty, and promise with no comparison to those around us. He sees us as uniquely designed in HIS image, and recognizes the value inherent in each of us….a value that he himself imparts to us, so we can trust that it is GOOD, just like the rest of his creation.

You matter to God. You are highly valued by him. You, indeed, are the apple of his eye!

So if you woke up this morning feeling a little inadequate, a little left out, or a little down, remember that God cherishes YOU. You are a child of God in a family that is runt-free. Thanks be to God!

Milk Dud the Runt by Welcome to Nature via Twitter