Tuesday, May 4, 2010

achor


In Anne of Green Gables, Anne, a newly placed orphan who tends toward melodrama, asks her new foster mother, the austere, stable Marilla "Can't you even IMAGINE you're in the depths of despair?" Marilla Cuthbert hesitates for a small second, only to look Anne squarely in the eye, and answer "No I cannot. To despair is to turn your back on God."

One girl, a drama queen, the other a realist and firm in her faith, and I see myself in both of them. As Anne, I see my life "as a perfect graveyard of buried hopes", with the back of my hand against my forehead. As Marilla, I have no time for weakness or nonsense.

In a rare and delightful revelation, my (heavenly) Father told me this morning I was in a place called "The Valley of Achor". By giving it a name, I have been given comfort, even though the place is named for one person screwing things up. The story of how the Valley got its name- one that it keeps to this day- is the story of one man, a hidden treasure and a redeemer.

After Jericho's famous fall, Joshua (Israel's General) told all of Israel two things: Jericho is cursed and must never be rebuilt; and no Israelite should take one thing from the spoils of the people of Jerico. Most people listened, but a man named Achan took three things from the ruined city and hid them in his tent. It is said that this one action of this man "turned God's anger toward Israel".

When later confronted, Achan confessed his sin, and explained to Joshua that "In the plunder I spotted a beautiful Shinar robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a fifty-shekel bar of gold, and I coveted and took them. They are buried in my tent with the silver at the bottom." Joshua checked it out and found it to be true. The rest of the story is less than happy -- Achan and his family were publically and summarily killed for the crime. After that, they named the Valley "Achor" (trouble) made a memorial to what happened, and God's anger was appeased.

I thought this morning that God was telling me that I was in a place of stealing something (spiritually, maybe) for myself instead oif trusting in Him, but then He showed me something new: the promise beyond the Valley of Achor. It is found later in the Bible, in a book that I looooove, called Hosea. God sees Israel, a bride that has become a prostitue and decides to "deal with her". How does he do this? He loves her.That;s his answer. Love, redemption, reinstating value, love, covenant - a promise that can't be broken.

"And now, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her. I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn Valley of Achor into the Door of Hope. She'll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt. "At that time"--this is GOD's Message still-- "you'll address me, 'Dear husband!' Never again will you address me, 'My slave-master!' I'll wash your mouth out with soap, get rid of all the dirty false-god names, not so much as a whisper of those names again. At the same time I'll make a peace treaty between you and wild animals and birds and reptiles, And get rid of all weapons of war. Think of it! Safe from beasts and bullies! And then I'll marry you for good--forever! I'll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. Yes, I'll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go. You'll know me, GOD, for who I really am. "On the very same day, I'll answer"--this is GOD's Message-- "I'll answer the sky, sky will answer earth, Earth will answer grain and wine and olive oil, and they'll all answer Jezreel. I'll plant her in the good earth. I'll have mercy on No-Mercy. I'll say to Nobody, 'You're my dear Somebody,' and he'll say 'You're my God!'"
Hosea 2:14-23

This is the greates promise He gives me. As I pray for children far removed from me, God's promise is greater than any threat posed by anyone or anything. When I cry out for the salvation of the township, God's revelation is His desire is to be HER husband, not her warden.

When I fall, when I fail, I am renewed and given a fresh start. I am redeemed by a husband, not a master. My God LOVES me and treaasures me. He is the greatest promise keeper of my life.

Respect, renewal, love.

In the Valley of Achor is a door of hope. It is mine...my hope. It is yours, ours. Our only hope in a world gone mad.