Are You Ready for a Life without Buts?
I’ve been reading recently about King Asa, and I’ve come to a decision:
I don’t want God to have to record any more buts in the story of my life—not if I can help it.
Here’s the thing: Asa was not a bad guy. He got a pretty good review in 2 Chronicles (one of the books in the Bible about the adventures of the kings of Israel).
The Scripture says that Asa’s heart was “completely faithful” to God “throughout his life” (2 Chronicles 15:17). He did so many things that pleased God. But…
Well, yes. There were some significant buts in his story.
First, Asa left something undone that bothered God enough to get top mention in the chronicle of Asa’s life. In the prime spot in the account that was saved for telling the reader whether a king had been good or evil in the sight of the Lord, the Bible records this:
... but he “did not remove the high places.”
2 Chronicles 15:17 (NIV)
The high places were pagan shrines, places for worshiping false gods. Asa did a lot of spiritual housecleaning in the nation, but he left those in place. (Later, a child king, 8-year-old Josiah, would remove the high places. See 2 Kings 23.)
Other than that, how did Asa do?
Next come two other accounts that strain my ability to understand how Asa’s heart can accurately be called “completely faithful throughout his life”—and still have done stuff like this.
Asa was faced with two situations that would test him in the following way: Would he rely on God, or on man?
The first was a military situation.
Instead of relying on God, Asa relied on man. And it actually appeared that he had succeeded. But, what looked like a victory was actually a foolish act in the eyes of God.
So God sent Hanani the seer to Asa to point out the truth to the King. But instead of Asa humbling himself before God and repenting, he became so enraged with God’s messenger Hanani that he put him in stocks in prison. And then (still enraged about having his foolish action pointed out?) Asa inflicted cruelties on people. (See 2 Chronicles 16:9-10.)
The next time Asa had a prime opportunity to turn to God for help, what did he do?
Three years later, Asa was faced with a medical crisis.
Asa had a severe problem with his feet. The Bible calls it a “serious” disease. But, for two whole years, Asa did not ask God for help.
Scripture indicates that he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from physicians. (Asa was not criticized for seeking help from physicians; he was singled out for not seeking help from the Lord, but only from man. See 2 Chronicles 16:12-13.)
And then he died.
Here’s My Takeaway
I think Asa’s story reveals that even someone whose heart is “completely faithful to God his whole life” will have multiple opportunities during that life to grow that faithfulness, and to increase dependence on, and trust in, God.
Imagine a rewritten story of Asa’s life that went like this:
Asa’s heart was completely faithful to God his whole life. As he began his reign, he even tore down all of the high places.
When faced with a military crisis, he talked to God for three days about the apparent options before him, and asked his advisers to pray, too. During those three days, Asa did not even eat while he waited for an answer from God about what course of action he should take. When the answer came, Asa obeyed God, even though the instructions were odd-sounding and didn’t seem like something that would gain victory.
Another time, when Asa had done something foolish in the eyes of God, relying on man instead of God, God sent Hanani the seer to point out the king’s mistake. Asa recognized and received the correction from God, repented, and received God’s forgiveness. Asa then honored Hanani’s courage by giving him gifts, and then he sent date and fig cakes to all the people to celebrate the goodness of God.
Much later, Asa was faced with a serious foot disease. By that time, Asa had developed such an intimate relationship with, and deep trust of, God that his first impulse was to ask God for direction and help. And so he did. When the Lord told Asa what he should do in this matter, Asa did it at once.
It’s obviously too late for Asa’s story to be rewritten this way. Scripture records how it actually happened.
But it’s not too late for the rest of our lives to be written a different way than how we’ve done things in the past.
We can seek God for help. And in doing so, avoid more unnecessary buts in our stories.
Yet, there’s something even more important, I think, than avoiding mistakes in life.
Deepening Intimacy with God
I think the bigger picture in the story above is what Asa missed out on—a depth of intimacy in relationship with God that naturally includes trust and turning to God first in difficult situations.
King David developed that kind of relationship with God. Even though David sinned (and we all have sinned), sin wasn’t the defining aspect of his life: intimacy with God was. As you read the Psalms David wrote, you can see the depth of intimacy and trust—the living relationship—that he had with God. God called David “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14 NLT; see also Acts 13:22).
God’s heart toward us is that he wants to put us in a place of intimacy with him—under his wings.
Scripture reveals some of the amazing things that God imparts to us through those wings: healing, help, shelter, refuge, hiding from danger, carrying (support and movement), and joy.
But we have to let him.
Like this: A,B, & C happened, but she turned to God. X,Y, & Z happened, but he trusted God.
And that’s the only but I want in my story.
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P.S. Have you downloaded your free copy of the Soar devotional? In your journey to deeper intimacy with God, you can use Soar by itself, or as a companion to my book Faith with Wings. Each of the 12 devotions in Soar corresponds to a chapter in Faith with Wings. Now is a great time to start!
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What I’m Writing Now: Inspirational Fiction
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Faith with Wings by AmyLu Riley
Faith with Grit for the Not-Yet Healed by AmyLu Riley
Stay: Why I’m Still Here, A Spiritual Memoir by AmyLu Riley
Jesus as Healer by AmyLu Riley
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