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Four Hundred Children and a Crop of Oatmeal… and Other Misunderstandings

8257194_400x400_FrontIt is amazing how little misunderstandings can cause such an uproar…

You know, things like-

  • Saying the word “Crab!” as innocent verbiage for frustration and your mother thinks that you said, “Crap!” and because that is a  bad word in your house you get punished (apparently I am still struggling with that one from my younger years and am still very thankful I didn’t say “Ship”)
  • Not realizing that staying in the yard meant you couldn’t include the whole 200+ acres of farm it was connected to…
  • Being in a room that was being vandalized by a food fight and you watched but didn’t participate and the teacher walked in only to take names and report everyone to the principal… (sweaty palms, heart racing fast, stomach in throat…  are you feeling it with me here?)
  • Racing to get a sick child for a single mom friend who has you as an emergency pick up person on the school list only to run a yellow light which turned red before your back tires left the white line and a policeman just happens to be right there waiting …
  • Hearing your 4-year-old singing a song, “Satan Love….. whoa, whoa….Satan Love”… and only after freaking out and tracing your steps to find out where you were failing as a parent, finding out that she was only singing “Tainted Love”

Or maybe little misunderstandings like-

  • Your dog barking at night and you think he needs to go out and you get angry only to find out the next morning that he was barking at the bad guys who broke into your car
  • (Before the wonderful invention of iTunes and the internet) staying up for 24 hours straight playing cards and listening to the radio so you can share a song that you love with a friend because she has never heard it …giving up and exhausted … heading for bed and hearing your friend sing the song in the hallway…. just singing the wrong lyrics …and thought it was a totally different title..I’ve been known to sing a few wrong lyrics myself (four hundred children and a crop of oatmeal… you picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille)  so that one ended with a good laugh.

Or maybe those misunderstandings that are better left to be misunderstood, like…..

  • Hearing your 4-year-old sing, “Life is good… Tie it like a sweater (eternal life is better)” and letting her continue because it is so cute…
  • Going ahead and eating the profits for the fundraiser sales and just giving the candy bar to that senior adult who thanked you for the nice gift
  • After the third time trying to pronounce your last name, finally just letting the other person spell it Paul instead of Hall (it happens so much more than you know)

Being misunderstood stinks… oh, I guess there are times that you might be thankful that you were misunderstood, but for the most part, it stinks.  Jumping to conclusions, making rash judgment calls, thinking that someone feels a certain way when you really don’t know what they are feeling at all…….When I do the misunderstanding, I usually end up eating crow (I really never say this little eating crow idiom but talking about ravens… I felt it was totally appropriate)  When others misunderstand me, I usually end up hurt…

I taught the kids this morning about Elijah.. God told him to tell the king there would be no rain and after that he was to go hang out by a brook and the ravens would feed him and the water would keep him from being thirsty.  Elijah did what he was told.  Something that I had never really given thought to before was the fact that the water dried up, but yet it was where God had sent him.  So did Elijah misunderstand God?  Was he really not supposed to go there?  Would God just let him go hungry and thirsty if he was doing what God had told him to do?  Did God not care about him any more?  Though the Bible doesn’t say it, as he watched the waters evaporate daily during the drought, I would imagine that Elijah may have wrestled with a few of these questions.

But here is the part that struck me…. again the Bible doesn’t say what Elijah was thinking but it does say what he did… he did still obey God… He didn’t misunderstand God’s intentions… He never blamed God for his situation.  How easy it would have been to misunderstand God’s hand in the situation… there was more to the story and though Elijah didn’t know what it was at the time, he trusted that God meant what he said when he said that he loved us and he would provide. ..

Elijah got a much needed vacation during that time….. plenty of food, water and time with God but as the water dried up and the ravens stopped grocery shopping…God eventually told Elijah where to go… it was during that trip that others got to see some miracles… If Elijah had misunderstood God’s intentions and given up then other lives would have been lost…

We may not be sitting at a creek waiting for ravens to bring us food.  We may not be at a dried up creek wondering where to go, but we may be misunderstanding God’s love for us in the situation that we are in….maybe someone is thinking that he can’t be worthy of a new path… that the water dried up for a reason and that reason is because God doesn’t care… listen carefully, you may just hear God telling you the direction to home where you will see miracles… I believe God hurts when we misunderstand and give up… didn’t say it was easy… hang in there.

Elijah Fed by the Ravens James Tissot

1 Kings 17

2 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 3 “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. 4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”

5 So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.

The Widow at Zarephath

8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.




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Posted by on October 5, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Super Communicator …. Helping the Misunderstood and Saving the World

American Idol is one of those shows that I said I would never watch…. Never say never.  I’m not addicted but I sure don’t like to miss it.  Several weeks ago there was the airing of auditions at their stop in Louisville.  Well, as a Kentuckian, naturally I wanted to watch…. as if I wouldn’t have watched any other city… but you know what I’m saying. I wanted to watch people from my region have their 15 minutes or less of fame.  mark-mudd-jrOne guy, Mark Mudd, definitely got his 15 minutes.  He was in multiple commercials and highlights giving what looked to be the look of death (Say those last three words with a deep, melodic voice for a more dramatic reading)  I, like the rest of America, was on the edge of my seat waiting to see exactly what happened and what we Kentuckians are like.

The time came for American Idol to focus on the life story about this guy who would eventually give the doomed evil look.  From that biography we found out that he was really a pretty sweet guy who had actually gone through a lot during his life.  He came in, sang his little song and didn’t make the cut.  As he left he told the judges, “Take care and be careful.”  The judges went ballistic… or at least Paula did. Well, I think they all did to a certain degree.  They took his words as a threat…. as if the guy was telling them to be careful where they go because he might “git ’em” ….Paula jumped at the guy and told him that “you don’t say that to people…”   I started thinking about it. You know,  I say ” Be careful” quite a bit to people.  It is an endearing goodbye as I want the recipient of those words to know that I want to see them again.

I became a little frustrated. I wondered if Paula had gone into another country like Italy and someone said, “Ciao,” would she have the nerve to say, “You don’t say that to people, you might make them think you want to eat them”?  I doubt it.  Good grief, we live in a huge country. Even though we are a United States, I’m thinking it wouldn’t hurt for these folks to do a little studying up on the cultural sayings of the area before they head into a region…. super-communicator

Regardless, the guy was just misunderstood.  I would have liked to have swooped into that room, just like a superhero (I shall name me, Super Communicator) and taken that young man back in front of the judges and explained to them that he was being endearing… a gentleman.  They would have seen the error of their ways and apologized before the guy was made out to be some weirdo in front of millions of people watching.

Super Communicator must have entered into the picture somewhere because American Idol posted an apology for their misunderstanding.  Unfortunately for Mark Mudd, it came after the airing and more so, came quietly where most won’t even know it happened… and probably don’t care.

The American Idol judges misunderstood the intentions of a young man and in doing so they seemed to have missed out on an opportunity of warm Southern hospitality from a regular good guy.

Okay,  so I’m not really Super Communicator out saving people from their state of misunderstanding but maybe someone else is (though I do like my Superhero alter ego outfit)

I’ve been there before and I know being misunderstood stinks…

In Mark 5:1-20 there are a couple of incidents of someone being misunderstood…

The whole incident is about Jesus ridding a man of a legion of demons.  The guy was off living in the tombs (burial caves) by himself because of his demon possession.  The community around him had given up on him and he could not be subdued by anyone nor bound by chains.  So there he was among the caves literally tearing himself apart in misery.   When Jesus arrived he cast out the demons into a herd of pigs.  The pigs…. lots and lots of pigs …went running down a steep bank and into a lake where they drowned.  Those watching the pigs (would they be considered pigherds?  just curious) ran to tell the townspeople.  When they went to check things out they saw the cave guy sitting up, dressed and acting normal.  Others who had seen all of this take place started telling the story about what happened… verifying it… and the townspeople became frightened and begged Jesus to get out of town.

Okay, so Cave guy, he was misunderstood…. well, maybe not so much him being misunderstood as it was people just giving up on him and being frightened of him.  He was obviously dangerous and violent.  As a parent I can totally understand why I would be glad that he was up in those caves away from my family. I can’t say they were wrong in their fear.  But there is also something else I see here…..  This guy just needed Christ in his life.  He was mean, unkept, weird and definitely scary to those around him, but Christ met him and changed his life.  He took those demons out of his life and Cave guy became Normal guy.  Sometimes I think that is how we view people… we fear them because we are unsure that they are really like us so therefore we stay far away.  We misunderstand actions or looks as mean, weird or scary when we don’t understand the demons that they are wrestling…. maybe not the exact same kind of demons that Christ sent out (or maybe they were) but similar… you know, demons of worthlessness, demons of divorce, demons of addictions, demons of abuse, demons of neglect, demons of depression, demons of eating disorders and on and on…. “Cave guy” can be a neighbor, a co-worker, a teacher, a student, a friend, an enemy…. someone who needs Christ to help him get rid of those things that keep him from being able to be close to others, being loved or loving others- in reality, living life as intended…Yes, he was frightening. Yes, he was dangerous and different than others, but Christ didn’t leave him when Cave Guy bowed before him.

Then there is the rest of the story- Jesus- he was misunderstood too… Now here is a man (actually God) who has just taken this demon possessed, scary man and turned him into someone new and the people who were originally scared of this guy aren’t pleased… the words don’t really say exactly why they pleaded with Jesus to leave but I have some speculations.  Other scriptures refer to disciples being terrified when Jesus calmed the storm or others thinking that Jesus was not doing the work of God but of Satan when he healed… I think Jesus’s work was too big to understand… too powerful and too much to grasp.  I guess they could have been upset about the pigs dying too, but I’m leaning toward the frightened theory.   Isn’t that the way we are today though? We see Christ at work but we don’t really know how to handle it.  We misunderstand the intentions of God and then  just like those people, we seem to want to put him on a boat and get him out of town….in other words, we don’t understand why we must go through something and we send Christ on his way all because we could not see the big picture….

We misunderstand people because we don’t understand them completely and we misunderstand the work of God because we can’t understand it completely.  It seems we sure can miss out on a lot of good when we misunderstand and refuse to take another look at people and situations.

Now there is one more thing to be said about the demon possessed man … he had a serious issue and we see that Christ was the only one who could help him. I think that is important.  I’m not advocating putting oneself in danger or staying in a dangerous or abusive sitution just because we are trying to understand why another person acts the way they do… Christ can open doors for professional help and treatment. Our job is prayer and listening to God for direction, protection and strength.

So that makes Christ the Super Communicator, able to take demons out with a single sentence, able to change the way we understand and able to save the world…


Have you misunderstood what God was or is doing in your life?  Have you missed out on seeing his work because you asked him to go?  What about a person who is hurting, alone or is aching and needs Christ to renew them?  Is God asking you to be the person who goes to the caves to get that person and guide them to him?   Just think what you could be missing.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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