Legacy of Failure

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 10.13-14
13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Reflection: Legacy of Failure
By Erin Newton

In a developmental psychology course, I remember learning that adults ages 40-65 enter a phase focused on leaving a legacy. The typical desire is to make a positive contribution to society. If this is a natural human development, you expect to see evidence of this in the Bible.

Repeated stories in the Bible are common: four gospels, two law books, and the echoed history of Israel’s kings in Chronicles. The retold life of Saul is condensed with a succinct obituary: Saul died because he was unfaithful. Compared to all the chapters of his life in 1 Kings, he is now a blurb of failure.

The Bible is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so these repeated stories should catch our attention. Forever, his bad deeds are highlighted while the handful of good moments are overshadowed. His legacy will go down in history as someone who sought advice from others rather than God. Saul consulted a witch and she summoned the prophet, Samuel, a voice he had ignored many times before. He had plenty of chances to change his ways, but he didn’t care.

What is interesting about the list of faithful believers in Hebrews 11-12 is that many of them had serious flaws, episodes of bad decisions. Despite the errors made in their lives, they are called the “hall of faith” and the “great cloud of witnesses.” What makes these people different from Saul when they all struggled with sin? In a word: repentance.

You and I are going to keep struggling with sin. Culture will tempt us to listen to bad advice. Our pride will seek to put others down and scoff at any form of rebuke. Temptation is here to stay, for now. How we respond is our responsibility. 

We need to be reminded of our humanity and our great need for forgiveness. We can toil and strive and put every ounce of sweat into creating a good, impactful legacy. But as the light begins to dim and the sweet voice of the Lord begins to call us home, the greatest peace we will have is knowing our lives were another retelling of His legacy. “Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken… and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12.6-7)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
And yet my people did not hear my voice, and Israel would not obey me. — Psalm 84.11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings

1 Chronicles 9-10 (Listen – 7:48)
Hebrews 12 (Listen – 4:36)

Read more from Erin: Muscle Memory
Our spirit has “muscle memory” of sorts. Our heart is shaped and trained by our thoughts and actions each day.

Read more about Weeping For Rebels
We have all been Absalom, rebels trapped by our sinful pride.
We have all been Joab, refusing mercy to those who slighted us.

Extra Ordinary Prayer

From John: 
Read the Bible. Reflect and pray. 

That is the two-pronged, ultra-simplified vision that we have for our readers. This week and part of next we take some time to curate and comment on some classic readings about prayer that may strengthen and encourage us in the practice of prayer.

Reflection: Extra Ordinary Prayer
By John Tillman

A kind of prayer that can have a profound difference in our lives is what Richard Foster refers to as “Ordinary Prayer.” Ordinary Prayer is anything but ordinary. It is seldom well-practiced. I would not say that we need less of any kind of prayer, but we could all use a little extra ordinary prayer.

Part of this type of prayer is putting our prayers into action. It is praying less with whispered words and more with the sweat of our brows and the work of our hands. A key part of Praying the Ordinary is the Prayer of Action.

Speaking of the Prayer of Action in his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster quotes, Jean–Nicholas Grou: “Every action performed in the sight of God because it is the will of God, and in the manner that God wills, is a prayer and indeed a better prayer than could be made in words at such times” Foster continues, “Each activity of daily life in which we stretch ourselves on behalf of others is a prayer of action…These times are lived prayer.”

We enact prayers by putting what we say to God, ask of God, and know of God into all we do. C.S Lewis noted that the woman, noisily cleaning the sanctuary of a church and distracting him as he attempted to pray during the day, was praying with action, saying, “her enacted oratio is probably worth ten times my spoken one.”

But we do not need to be serving in a church or cleaning one to enact our prayers. Foster continues:

“Another way of Praying the Ordinary is by praying throughout the ordinary experiences of life. We pick up a newspaper and are prompted to whisper a prayer of guidance for world leaders facing monumental decisions. We are visiting with friends in a school corridor or a shopping mall, and their words prompt us to lapse into prayer for them, either verbally or silently, as the circumstances dictate. We jog through our neighborhood, blessing the families who live there. We plant our garden, thanking the God of heaven for sun and rain and all good things. This is the stuff of ordinary prayer through ordinary experience.”

We carry prayer with us into every moment of our lives. As we do, may our actions be blessings not curses, carrying the good news of the gospel.

*Quotations from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples, make the voice of his praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip.— Psalm 66:7-8

Today’s Readings
1 Chr 5-6  (Listen -12:23)
Hebrews 10  (Listen -5:33)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chr 7-8 (Listen -9:04), Hebrews 11  (Listen -6:22)
1 Chr 9-10 (Listen -6:48), Hebrews 12  (Listen -4:36)

Thank You!
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Read more about Prayer as Vocation
To some, it might be a surprise that one of the primary definitions of the word “vocation” is a divine calling.

Read more about Cultivating Daily Bread
Daily bread refers to a daily need for God and purposely highlights the need for spiritual disciplines that are required for us to grow in faith.