Our blog post begins today with a story straight out of history from 1 Samuel 25 (The Message). Read carefully and put yourself in this story then honestly ask yourself this question…which character am I here?
There was a certain man in Maon who carried on his business in the region of Carmel. He was very prosperous—three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and it was sheep-shearing time in Carmel. The man’s name was Nabal (Fool), a Calebite, and his wife’s name was Abigail. The woman was intelligent and good-looking, the man brutish and mean.
David, out in the backcountry, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep and sent ten of his young men off with these instructions: “Go to Carmel and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name, ‘Peace! Life and peace to you. Peace to your household, peace to everyone here! I heard that it’s sheep-shearing time. Here’s the point: When your shepherds were camped near us we didn’t take advantage of them. They didn’t lose a thing all the time they were with us in Carmel. Ask your young men—they’ll tell you. What I’m asking is that you be generous with my men—share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to me, David your son.’”
David’s young men went and delivered his message word for word to Nabal. Nabal tore into them, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on? Who knows where they’ve come from?”
David’s men got out of there and went back and told David what he had said. David said, “Strap on your swords!” They all strapped on their swords, David and his men, and set out, four hundred of them. Two hundred stayed behind to guard the camp.
Meanwhile, one of the young shepherds told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, what had happened: “David sent messengers from the backcountry to salute our master, but he tore into them with insults. Yet these men treated us very well. They took nothing from us and didn’t take advantage of us all the time we were in the fields. They formed a wall around us, protecting us day and night all the time we were out tending the sheep. Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him. He’s impossible—a real brute!”
Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and she had it all loaded on some donkeys. Then she said to her young servants, “Go ahead and pave the way for me. I’m right behind you.” But she said nothing to her husband Nabal.
As she was riding her donkey, descending into a ravine, David and his men were descending from the other end, so they met there on the road. David had just said, “That sure was a waste, guarding everything this man had out in the wild so that nothing he had was lost—and now he rewards me with insults. A real slap in the face! May God do his worst to me if Nabal and every cur in his misbegotten brood aren’t dead meat by morning!”
As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him.
Ok, who did you decide you were in this story? For most of us, we would like to think we are Abigails. Abigails, right!? How could we NOT be! But what if you really dug deep and saw that you were a Nabal – full of venom*GASP*! Or a David – full of rage *GASP*! How could that be possible? I think that happens a lot more than we care to admit, that we are actually the villain in these stories. We read about the villain and the hero, and we decide we are the hero. What humility and honesty it must take to look at a situation and admit that we have villain tendencies. We get angry too fast – we talk too much – we think too little, and we let our emotions dictate our every move. Maybe it’s just me, but I can be a Nabal, and I can be a David…oh, but how I pray and how I ask for wisdom to be the Abigail. There are times I am the Abigail. There are glimpses there. But I think this morning the challenge for all of us is to look in the mirror and truly ask, “Am I the villain in this story?” And if the answer is yes, OWN IT! That’s freedom. Ask God to forgive you, ask the one(s) you hurt to forgive you. Turn from that “villain-hood,” realize the strength in the humility of that confession, and then pray that next time there’s a story in your life that leads you into an emotional arena you lean into the honest fact that YOU ARE NOT ALL THAT, and maybe, just maybe, God has allowed this backdrop of your life to highlight something in you that has to change. This process, crushing. An ego blaster, for sure. But it means health and life and ultimately learning how to be more like Jesus. And that’s the point. If your aim is anything other than that, guess what, your aim is you – and then, sadly, you really are the villain.
I write this today with grace in my heart for you, for me and for all those on a journey to learning how to control our emotions. Being the villain is not our destiny. God promises that!
That’s all for today. Have a blessed day, time to go look in the mirror.
With all my heart,
P.S. This song is dedicated to you, Little Bird. You know who you are. God loves us!