'Powerful' people fascinate me. I like to stand back and
observe them in order to understand where their 'power' originates from and
why it affects others under them in so many different ways, both positively and
often negatively. Regarding the latter, at first I thought that maybe they were
using faulty leadership skills, and may not have had good leadership training;
maybe they were rebelling and using their authority unwisely and many times it
seemed that the immutable law of sowing and reaping wasn't functioning
properly because they were sowing some nasty stuff and didn't seem to be
reaping any consequences!
More than anything else, I wanted to know why, time and time
again, people who love and serve the Lord become casualties of other people who
are endowed with God's power in their ministries. Why does God allow His own
people to afflict their brethren?
I found my answer in a book called "A Tale of Three Kings"
by Gene Edwards. It is not an answer that will ever be popular in Christendom
and yet one of the most beloved and, dare I say it, 'perceived to be powerful'
kings in the Bible was the result of believing it and applying it.
Once upon a time, there were two kings. Their names were Saul
and David. They were both anointed by God. King Saul was a very handsome
man, and despite being a country boy, managed to unite his fellows into a
cohesive unit in Israel. For a time he commanded the respect of his people by
defeating the enemy over and over through God's power. He was also a prophet
who prophesied by the power of God's Spirit. The stage looks set for him to
succeed as a man of God until we see some odd behaviours manifesting i.e.
murderous rages, disobedience of God's edicts and consulting a witch. Since
God's gifts are permanently given, with no strings attached (even when sin is
involved), He does not take them back (Romans 11:29) and so Saul stayed in the
position of being anointed of God despite the rotten state of his heart. One of
Saul's biggest fears was the gnawing question of what would happen to his
throne? - totally forgetting Who gave it to him in the first place.
History shows us that there are very few men who can handle
unlimited power, coupled with no accountability, and it's noteworthy that God's
next 'man for the hour', David, was not handed the throne as was Saul. His
ascension was painful and long and for the rest of his life, he never forgot by
Whom he acquired that throne and Whose it ultimately was.
What was the difference between Saul and David? I believe it
was the state of their hearts. Saul's was proud and un-teachable and David's
was broken. For around a decade after God anointed him, he went through
immense suffering which, thousands of years later, is recorded as a credit to
his memory and the source of his power and yet at the time, he was only a man
lying on the floor of a cave wishing he was dead and crying out to God. He
certainly did not feel a ball of power then or during any of the times he went
through great trials and tragedies and was on his face before the Lord asking
for help again.
The author of The Tale of Three Kings believes that God was
getting rid of Saul's spirit in David -– a spirit that we all have unless we
accept and value God's 'breaking' in our lives.
When Saul didn't know what to do, he did what was right in
his own eyes and failed. When David didn't know what to do, he asked of God.
The consequences of these two different decision-making
processes were interesting and the Bible records that one was a failure and one
was a success (even despite his times of failing). The irony of it is that the
one who failed was the one who exhibited outward power and looked great and the
one who succeeded was the one who exhibited outward and inward weakness and who
constantly remembered that anything he had came from God. This is demonstrated
once again when his own son Absalom, rises up against him to take the throne. In
2 Samuel 15:25-26 the fleeing David tells Zadok the priest that if God wants him
on the throne, He will bring him back and if He doesn't, then He can do with
David as He will. There are not many Christians today who would say that to God,
myself included, and yet I know the incredible difference it brings in our
relationship to God. There is security because we know that in all things, we
can fall flat on our face (often figuratively owing to circumstances) and ask of
God what we should do. His way is always successful, even if it doesn't look
like that on the surface; there is the hedge of His love which is always
surrounding us, even when life is terribly dark; there is His long-suffering
patience with us, despite our continual mistakes; what about His sense of
justice? It is ever-present and He fights on our behalf, even while allowing our
hearts to be broken -– strange paradox but true.
I personally shrink from being perceived as a 'broken'
person because the words 'weak', 'ineffectual', 'mousy', 'walkover',
etc come to mind. However, if we look at two real examples of 'broken', we
see David and Moses and these are the last adjectives that we would ever apply
to them! David was broken and yet through that process of breaking, he wrote
some of the most beautiful songs and poetry in history. Moses was broken from a
haughty and proud son of Egypt to a prostrate and miracle-working leader of
Strange! These are not the images conjured up when we are
going through intense pain and yet these are the results of that same pain, if
allowed, valued and submitted to God. If however, the pain is rejected, the
resulting end is that of Saul. He started well but finished badly. His power
David's brokenness saved him.