David and Jonathan were committed to being channels of life to one another–which is amazing since under most circumstances these two would have been archrivals!
Do you remember their story? Jonathan was the son of King Saul–the heir to the throne. David was a young shepherd boy–chosen by God to take King Saul’s place as king. This wasn’t because Jonathan lacked the character to be king but because his father Saul didn’t love or trust God. On the contrary, when you read about Jonathan you will see in particular a man of great character. He wanted to honor his father. Yet he loved his friend David.
How could such a friendship evolve or survive? Their friendship was born of the fact that both Jonathan and David love the Lord. Both trusted in God’s goodness. So when life became complicated–like when Saul was trying to hunt down David and kill him–both David and Jonathan trusted in the Lord and his promises. Only through the gift of spiritual friendship–a friendship rooted in God’s love and wisdom–could this be possible.
David and Jonathan made a covenant to under gird and support their friendship. We aren’t given the specifics of the covenant, but it certainly included their commitment to God and to each other. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider taking steps to initiate this sort of friendship.
Jeremiah was called into the prophetic ministry when he was young man. Humble and eager to serve God, he became a man of prayer and deep spirituality–a man who faced his trials with courage.
During his forty years of ministry, Jeremiah would suffer intense persecution. He was thrown into a dungeon, beaten, put in stocks, and threatened. Tradition teaches that he was stoned to death. Despite the opposition he faced, however, he remained true to the messages God gave him. He confronted the Jews with their rebellion and called them to confess their sins, accept responsibility, and ask God for forgiveness. As God directed him, he also spoke words of comfort to a people facing disaster.
Jeremiah was also a man of great compassion. He openly expressed his grief over the sinfulness of his people. In fact, he’s known as the weeping prophet. He shed many tears for the sin of his people and the destructive consequences he knew they’d face. After Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were exiled, Jeremiah wrote the book Lamentations to express his sorrow over the pain and loss of his people. There were times when Jeremiah openly and honestly complained to God about the work God had given him. Yet even in the midst of his sadness, Jeremiah never lost faith in God’s power to judge righteously, to reward liberally, and to restore his broken people.
Even men who don’t want to be like their fathers often turn out to be amazingly similar in their behaviors and personalities. Through the power of God and hard personal choices, however, it’s possible to break out of an ongoing spiral of sin and dysfunction.
Take Josiah, for example. Josiah was a young king who chose to stand against a virtual tidal wave of disobedience fostered by his grandfather Manasseh and his father, Amon. Breaking from this downward spiral was particularly difficult since Josiah had little knowledge to guide his actions. The Scriptures containing God’s laws had been lost for years. But when the high priest discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple, young Josiah immediately initiated spiritual renewal for himself and his people.
As a result, Josiah was able to break the cycle of sin that had captured Israel in its whirl. Josiah was not a perfect man but he was a true champion of spiritual renewal. He was committed to God and had the courage to pursue both personal and national renewal.
Josiah made the difficult choices necessary in order to ‘cut loose’ from the sins of the past and to build a new life for himself and the people of Judah. Are you like Josiah? Do you need to make a break from the past in order to build a new life for yourself? I hope you’ll seek the same powerful God who renewed Josiah.