This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
Genes, like history, have a fascinating way of repeating themselves. I am often reminded of this when I comb through the pictures of my family. I had taken a picture of my grandson Micah playing out in the yard with a soccer ball. He loves to boot it around and run after it to kick it once again. I caught a shot of him lined up to connect with his target and something about his posture triggered a memory. When I got home I pulled out a picture of his father Christopher doing the same thing and (you guessed it) they looked identical! I’ve seen this played out dozens of times and not just in regards to fathers and sons. It happens with sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, uncles and ancestors too. I’m not sure how these things get recorded and codified into our genetic make-up but I know it’s there because I’ve seen it in my photos. The Bible recognizes patterns are a part of life too (Ps. 19:1-6; Ecc. 3:1-2). But perhaps even more important are the patterns set forth within in families.
As the Bible moves from the period of the Judges to the time of settlement several figures and their sons emerge in the center of the story who are the epitome of pattern makers and pattern breakers. The first two figures are Eli the High Priest and Samuel, the last judge of Israel. While Samuel was imposing and a force to be reckoned with Eli was a weak and ineffective High Priest but neither of them produced sons that were worthy to carry on the office of their father. Highlights of Eli’s story can be found here: 1 Sam. 1:1-20; 2:12-36; 4:1-11 and Samuel’s can be found here: 1 Sam. 3:1-21; 8:1-5. Two fathers, two similar patterns; sadly each ending in death. The morally corrupt condition of Samuel’s sons actually helps to perpetuate the people’s desire for a king. But a king is no guarantee that your leadership will be better. In fact Saul and David prove an interesting point. Saul was the popular choice of the people but his character traits were questionable (1 Sam. 9:1-2; 10:20-24). David was popular as well and had a stronger moral fiber within (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:33-36;42; Ps. 108:1; 138:1). One would think David’s children would follow a pattern of greatness like David and Saul’s children would follow the disappointing pattern of their father Saul. If we were to apply the statistics of today, we’d be correct. But that is not what happened! David’s children were a mess. One of David’s sons even tried to murder his father and take the throne (2 Sam. 15:18; 16:5-12). Somewhere in their genetic code David’s “heart” was lost on his children. That was not the case with Saul’s son Jonathan. If anything he is the complete opposite of his father. He was loyal, smart and faithful not only to his friend, the future king, David (1 Sam. 18:1-5) but also to his father even when Saul was plotting to destroy David. In the end Jonathan gave his life in service to his father, who also died in the same battle (1 Sam. 31:1-6), foreshadowing in a small way another Son who would also give His life in service to His Father (Jn. 8:28; Gal. 1:4; Phil. 2:8).
Sometimes I look at a photo and feel the pattern is appealing, but every once and a while I see a pattern in a photo I’m creating and think, “This pattern needs to be broken”. Breaking an artistic pattern is as simple as turning one object a different way or playing with the size, shape, color or lines of our subject. Breaking life patterns requires us to first recognize the unhealthy pattern and then determine how to change it. Thankfully we can look at a Biblical person like Jonathan and see that this kind of change is possible. Perhaps even more convincing is the succession of kings in Judah. Take a look at these 4 generations and see what you think (2 Kin. 18-21; 21:1-18, 19-26; 22:1-23:27).
I think it’s sad that many believers never read the Old Testament. It is filled with stories like this that offer such hope. You may have a pattern in your life that you’re under the impression you’re destined to follow. But Josiah would tell you that is not the case! If we are seeing life through the viewfinder of faith, we know it is completely possible to break a pattern. There is a Helper who has all the tools we need to do so (Jn. 14:6, 26) and thanks to Him we are a completely new person (2 Cor. 5:17). Christ is in the business of pattern breaking. Just ask the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery how Christ can change a life sunk in an unhealthy pattern (Jn. 4:1-42; 8:1-11). Christ completely changed their individual patterns. He will do the same for you if you let Him (Rev. 21:5).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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