Ever known someone who lived in the land of “If only…?” If only I had ____, then things would be OK. If only they ____, then life would be good. If I’m honest, I have to admit I hold citizenship in the land of “If only.”
In today’s reading, we see that the land of “If only” has been around for quite some time. Listen in on the conversation between the people of Israel and the aging prophet, Samuel:
“Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. ‘Look,’ they told him, ‘you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.’” (1 Sam 8:4–5 NLT)
Did you hear it? “If only we had a King, then things would be OK.” A King could marshal resources… a King could bring unity among people who quarreled… a King could bring peace, status, and security… just like the other nations.
Even though Samuel warns them that the King idea is highly overrated, they insist. Does anyone else find it ironic that their complaint against Samuel’s sons was that they were immoral and abused power in their roles as Priests? Why would they think a King would do any less?
I have to ask: what was at the center of their request for a King? It certainly wasn’t God. It wasn’t a King-in-waiting. No… I think their selfish desires were at the center of this request.
If only we had a King, the King would provide security and fight our battles for us (we’re on easy street!). If only we had a King, the King would give us status, and peace. In other words, if only we had a King, the King would do everything to make my life better… easier… more fulfilling. There’s just one problem.
God is the one who gives us status (as children of THE King). God gives us true peace and security.
Apparently this was “two-fer” day at the insult store: not only did the people blow off God as their King, they were asking the King to serve THEM!
I’m so glad humanity has progressed well beyond living in the land of “If only….” Today, we would never hear things like, “If only _____ is elected President, then life will be good!”
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the elections and forget who is really in charge, and who really provides. When I fall into election frenzy, I have to stop and ask, what’s at the center of my request? Is it God… or me?
It also leaves me wondering if there’s an expiration date on the two-fer sale at the insult store. Am I still insulting God? And am I still insulting government leaders by asking them to do for me some of the things I can do for myself by getting involved in local affairs in a positive way?
You know what I find most ironic in all this discussion? No one has ever asked for God’s “If only” statement. I wonder what God would say?
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14–15 NRSV)
On this election day, I’m going to vote for the candidates of my choice. But more importantly, I’m going to elect God back into the center of my life as my King. May God reign forever… and may all lands be healed!
Who is your provider today? What can you do to further God’s Kingdom, regardless of today’s outcome at the polls? Join in the discussion with your comments!