Have you ever wondered why you have to go through so much preparation to come into the fullness of what God has for you? Does it seem like your time of training and discipline is never going to end? If so, there are some helpful explanations for you this week as we look at what happened to David's son Absalom after he led a rebellion against his father David.
A CONTRAST IN PREPARATION
We have examined in past studies what David went through to eventually sit on his throne. He went through decades of disappointment, persecution, and training to eventually ascend to his leadership role. We have seen that David learned not to take revenge on his enemies but to trust the Lord. David learned how not to lead from the hands of treacherous King Saul who tried to assassinate David on more than a few occasions. Yes, God did a thorough job of preparing David and, even though he was not a perfect man, he was always a man after God's heart.
Absalom, on the other hand, had to preparation time for his throne. He wanted it and he wanted it on his terms. He didn't hesitate to kill his brother who had wronged his sister, and then he began a campaign to woo the hearts of the people away from his father. Eventually, he rose up, declared himself the king, and pursued his father in order to kill him because he saw his father as a political rival. The problem with Absalom is stated in 2 Samuel 14:25: "In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him."
Absalom didn't see who he was or what he had as a gift from God to be used for others, but rather as something he earned that existed to benefit him alone. David had a chance to deal with his flaws on the way to his throne, but Absalom thought the throne was something he deserved and if he didn't have it, then he was going to take it by force if necessary—assuming he was ready and able. In fact, it was Absalom's beauty, specifically his hair, that eventually led to his downfall. Now you see why God put David through what He did, for those traits were missing in Absalom because he had no preparation.
When I came to the Lord, I knew I would be a leader and I thought I was ready. I reasoned, How hard can it be to lead? God is with me, I'm a pretty smart guy, and He will tell me what to do. However, I was totally ignorant of my own ambitions and the flaws in my heart. That's why I had perverse bosses (before I went into church work) who abused and used me. That's why I was an associate pastor for 11 years but during that time only spoke twice from the pulpit. That's why I found myself serving in areas of ministry that I didn't like and where I wasn't comfortable so I could learn how to serve. God had a lot of work to do in me and all those difficult situations were my tutors.
In all my years of being on ministry staff, no one ever asked me what I felt the Lord had for me in ministry, and that was so I would learn to ask that of others when I received my throne of purpose. The verses God hammered into my mind and heart during those years were:
- "Slaves [employees], in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your master [supervisors], not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh" (1 Peter 2:18).
- "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
- "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23-24).
While those were difficult years, they shaped and developed me into the man I have become. Today, I'm doing what I love all day every day all over the world because I submitted to God's preparation, as frustrating and confusing as it sometimes was.
And now what about you? Are you in a time of preparation? Do you see that God has to not only equip you with practical skills but also character formation so your throne will be a blessing and not your undoing? Furthermore, are you afraid to emerge from your preparation, waiting for perfection rather than the reality that you will never be flawless this side of the Lord's return?
I urge you to honor and cooperate with your seasons of development, for God knows what He's doing and can get you ready for your future, a future you can't see but can only accept in faith that one day it will arrive—and you will be ready. Have a blessed week!