Summary: In an attempt to give meaning to our lives, we "thrash" -- do something impulsive that has to be acknowledged as sin and has inescapable consequences. But as we confess our sin God "threshes" us, dividing the positive from the negative, so that we recove
The longer we live, the more we have to be thankful for. Isn’t that true? The longer we live, the more blessings we receive, and therefore the more we have to be thankful for. If you are thirty years old, you can count your blessings, name them one by one. If you are sixty years old, you can count your many blessings, see what God has done. And if you are ninety years old – well, let’s not go there, you have probably forgotten how to count! The longer we live, the more we have to be thankful for.
But it is also true that the longer we live, the more we have to be forgiven. Count that too: the longer we live, the more mistakes we make, the more people we hurt, the more wrong directions we take, and so the more we have to be forgiven.
If you’ve been married only a short while, you can still remember that day when your wife found out that you were not Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It hurt to have her discover that there were some things you would not do, and you had to ask forgiveness. But then of course you also discovered that she was not Wonder Woman either, looking like a million bucks as soon as she got out of bed and cooking breakfast, nursing the baby, and paying the bills all at the same time! And you had to forgive her, didn’t you?
The longer we live, the more we have to be forgiven. The longer we live, the more mistakes we make, the more people we hurt, the more wrong directions we take, and so the more we have to be forgiven. That’s true in any relationship – family, work, neighborhood, church. The other day the husband of a church member asked me how long I had been here, and when I told him I was in my 18th year, he said, “Well, that’s eighteen years of opportunities to upset people”. Yes it is. Forgiveness is called for, even in the church, and especially for the pastor.
Now since it is true that the longer we live the more we have to be forgiven, what happens as we accumulate errors and multiply mistakes? What happens? We become acutely aware that there are folks out there who do not like us, have not forgiven us, have never forgotten what we did to them, and are not at peace with us. And so the longer we live with that the more likely we are to thrash. To thrash. Do you know that word? “Thrashing” is waving your arms and legs around wildly. “Thrashing” is jumping here and there, trying to find a solution to your problem. “Thrashing” is what you do when you are in a panic and think you are in so much trouble you are going to drown.
Just a couple of months after Margaret and I were married, we were with a youth group from our church in Louisville. We went to a state park for a swimming outing. I thought the floor of the lake was a gradual, easy slope, and so, though I am not a swimmer, I waded out farther and farther, until the water was chest high. But guess what? There was a sharp drop-off out there; I stepped into it and went under that water, sinking like a lump of lead. Margaret quickly calculated that she was not ready to lose her husband of two months – see, I was still Superman in her eyes – and so came to pull me out. Obviously, Wonder Woman that she is, she was successful – here I am! But she told me I really made it hard for her, because my arms and legs were – here’s the word – thrashing in all directions! When you think you are about to drown in all the mess you have made, you thrash around, desperate for something to grip.
But thrashing isn’t going to work. It’s threshing, not thrashing, that we want. Threshing, not thrashing. More on that in a moment.
David, King of Israel, had been on his throne for a long time. Nigh on to forty years of fighting Philistines, consolidating power, dealing with palace intrigues, fathering ungrateful children, and on and on. As David came toward the end of his reign, and things were still not fully settled, hostility here and there around Israel, David started thrashing. He wanted just to do something, anything, to get hinself together. You know how we say, “Don’t just stand there, do something”? Well, that’s thrashing. With most of us, it should be, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” What does David do? He orders a census. He commands a nose-count all over the land.