2 Samuel 15
A messenger came to King David saying, "The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom..."
King David said to his people, "Get up. Let us flee, or there will be no escape..."
v 23 "The whole country wept aloud as the [King's] people passed by..."
v30 "But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping."
One day you are the king.
The next day you are weeping and running for your life.
Life is in constant transition. Things change. Not all change is for the better.
Reflecting on David's (seemingly bizarre) interactions with his son Absalom, we know that this tragedy may have been averted. His passionate love for the young man was never expressed directly to him. This father son problem created all manner of tragedy for countless others. That is the problem when God "empties Himself" and hands over control (dominion and authority) to human actors. Yet, the decision of God to make us responsible is exactly what is taking place here. The "pain of God" (all talk of God is analogical) is His love for us and His willingness to hand things over. [this is the revelation of the cross] Someday God will reign, but not yet. In the meantime we are under the power of other, lesser, 'gods'.
The (repeated) rise and fall of David is a reminder that success is fleeting. Today's mega star is tomorrow's "what ever happened to." Our wealth and security are an illusion. Health and strength can be snatched from us in a moment. We know this is true but seldom act like it. Even believers tend to chase these "false gods" in an effort to stand secure.
Watching (in my imagination) David's long, sad parade of despair, I was gripped by the certainty that my own future may not be so bright. God may love him (you and me, too) but that does not mean everything works out. David's exile ends, but only with the heart wrenching death of his son. As the victorious king screams aloud "O Absalom! My son! My son!" his grief is a grim reminder that sometimes nothing makes us happy.
All of life hangs by a thread. Last week they shut down all our embassies because of a credible threat. Instead we have seen major melt down in Egypt as hundreds are dead. Tornadoes and stock market crashes, floods and business failures, we all know the roll call of doom and gloom.
So how then to live? Jesus is clear, do not chase after things which do not, cannot give you life. What does that look like for middle class folks who have already been seduced by "stuff" and have the debt load and stress related maladies to prove it? We live as people who repeat the mantra "it is all hanging by a thread." We remind ourselves, continually, that all of it is a mist. It is a dim reflection of something more secure, more real, more everlasting.
In today's Gospel Jesus healed a blind man. He told the man, "your faith has saved you" and the man "followed Him." Blind is a metaphor for ignorance. It is also a symbol of unbelief. My failure to grasp who Jesus is is blindness. My pursuit of the wrong goals and the wrong things is blindness. My trust in that "which is hanging by a thread" is blindness. Jesus offers us sight. To some extent I am healed, I hope you are as well. I hope we all see enough to follow Jesus.