Jehosaphat (Part I)

This morning I read our eldest the story of Jehosaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.  I’ve always had a soft spot for Jehosophat, and not simply because his name is Elijah Baley’s favourite swear word (you need to be an Asimov SF fan to get that reference).  He is one of the few “good kings” of Judah.  He’s not a “really good king” – he still lets the people worship at high places, and is rather too ready to ally with Ahab’s Israel (much to the detriment of his own family), but his heart is at least in the right place – he himself is loyal to the LORD,

The story starts like this:

“After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.
Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi).
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.”
(2 Chronicles 20:1–4 ESV)

Jehosaphat is afraid.  Being an earnest follower of the LORD does not remove fear.  But he knows who is really in charge (which is kind of appropriate, since Jehosaphat means something like “The LORD rules/judges/delivers”).  So he does what he is supposed to do, he calls all the people together to seek help from the LORD, indeed to seek the LORD.  What are the challenges we face?  What are the challenges as a church?  What is our first response?  How rarely mine is to seek the LORD – yet that is what we need to do.  If our church faces a crisis our first response should be prayer.  Only then should we turn to strategies.  It’s why I was a bit hesitant to read about the CofE’s new plans for growth, inspired by various business leaders.  It’s not that planning for growth and changing dead structures is bad – the church needs to do lots of it, but what I missed was the call to prayer that needs to go with it and before it.  I trust that those involved prayed, and prayed lots.  But I think the church as a whole needs to be called to prayer.  I also know that I need to be called to prayer.  I need to seek help from the LORD.

Then we get Jehosaphat’s prayer

“And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.””
(2 Chronicles 20:5–12 ESV)

Here Jehosaphat goes back to the LORD, and he prays.  Here is the King doing what he should do.  He builds a case before God, based on God’s rule, and God’s power and God’s concern for his people.  He reminds God of the purpose of the temple, to be a sanctuary for God’s name.  To be a place where God’s character is known and displayed.  And since God’s character is one of unlimited grace and mercy he knows he is on solid ground as he prays.  Finally he draws the attention of God to the immediate threat – that word “behold” sounds archaic, but it would be better translated as “Look!” or “Pay Attention!” in this case.

Finally the one whose name means “The LORD judges” prays “LORD will you not judge them?”  Jehosaphat knows that the LORD has to act, because he is powerless. Judah is in a corner, and with words that echo into every hopeless situation, and every desperate cry prays “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” – we are looking to you to act, because we do not know what to do.  Those words echo in my heart as I struggle to finish off a PhD, and then we face an utterly uncertain future.  We do not know what to do.  We do not know how to do it.  May our eyes be on Him. This is the prayer for when we do not know what to pray.  We simply lay out the situation before God and say “Help: we don’t know what to do, but we are looking to see what you will do.”

In a future post at some other point when I need a break from PhD rewriting and editing I will post the LORD’s response – or you could just go and read it now. I promise it will be worth the read…

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reflections on our home learning journey 39

I cannot believe we are 39 weeks along this journey. Tonight I am feeling out of my depth though as a mum watching Bob wrestle with some hard choices and consequences and the discovery that mummy cannot fix everything. I knew I couldn’t do everything but it has been easy to deny or avoid that fact while your children still believe fully in you. But today Bob’s curiosity of a how a much loved new toy worked led to the toy being taken apart but sadly it is unable to be rebuilt to a fully working standard again. He pleaded with me to fix it saying ‘but you are mummy you can put all things right and fix things’ as he flung his distraught body across the sofa. He is also pushing boundaries in regard to how he speaks and relates to us which is leading to a negative cycle of conversations at the moment in our house which I  am struggling to find a way out of. While I don’t feel I know how to resolve matters I am continually reminded of a post I read recently where family is described as an action verb. So I stay put, I don’t run away which I want to do, I join my eldest boy and his distraught body on the sofa, we keep evening meal time as it always is on a Friday with pizza and a DVD. I initiate a family walk. I sit with him and read at bedtime, I invite him to join us on the sofa.

Lessons wise I have decided to cut us all some slack over these next few weeks while Mark finishes up and that is our focus. And with the end being 4 weeks today the big question of what is next is also weighing on our minds and Bob’s too. Right now we are simply putting one step in front of the other with no great expectations or pressures on any of us beyond Mark’s PhD being handed in. This is good on one hand as it frees us up but it also makes it hard as routine does help Bob and myself but neither he or I do transitions, especially unknown transitions well and this is one very big unknown transition and lessons in the midst of all the unsettledness is not a good combination. What has got Bob’s attention though this week is poetry and we have spent many an hour having great fun reading poetry which has been a delight.

Zog has worked his way through reams of paper and artwork as per normal, he just loves to find a corner where he can be left in peace with his markers and paper and draws away to his heart’s content. Kanga is never far from her beloved brothers and her adventurous spirit continues to show up. She may not have many clear words yet but she can clearly communicate her needs and once those are met she is content to get on with life. She is very enthusiastic to help me with all the housework and aware of what is going on in the house and whenever one of her brothers is struggling or having some time out she loves to come along side them and sit with them to comfort them. They are not always so appreciative of this on the surface. Zog also struggles when others especially his hero Bob is sad or struggling and it has been interesting in working out how to navigate moments with both the one who is having the eruption and the other who is sad because the other one is having a hard time.

There is part of me that is noticing we have not got through all the lessons for this year, and will not have by the time we finish up and so working out have we covered enough to jump on into next years material or do we just keep going. Then on the other hand there is part of me that is very grateful that we are where we are and we can have give ourselves the freedom to say right now we need to cut ourselves some slack and we can pick things up again in August and with Mark around then Bob and I can really give time to finishing up well even if that means not finishing up every lesson for the year.

reflections on our home learning week 38

Summer happened this week which Zog was delighted at as he perishes at anything under 18 degrees and Bob hates as he melts when temperatures tumble over 20 degrees so we have a narrow window when both boys are happy to be out and enjoying the world. Kanga. well she is just too little for heat and so has held onto me most of the week for the majority of the time. This week though has marked a step forward for Bob learning to know how to respond and listen to his body as he was able to understand why we wanted him to play in the shade and not out in the hottest part of the day. He was happy to be a book-worm creating lazy afternoons finding quiet corners out of the sun with a book. Zog though could not understand why we were not doing lots of activities and was for ever wanting to go and play at the park so we created a park with climbing frame and slide inside with the helpful addition of a mattress and lots of pillows and cushions and all the windows open to create a pleasant through breeze.

Maths took on a new look this week with the family classic of Continuo which Bob decided covered both Maths and History as there was lots of counting as we made long lines and patterns with coloured blocks but it was also like making mosaics which the Romans did. He has also been running a market stall in the garden selling various food items using recycled containers. This has been great for hundreds, tens and singles placing and addition of more than two numbers.

Art involved shaving foam and food colouring and lots of messy play for all three and then long showers and baths to get cleaned up.

Reading as already mentioned was done throughout the afternoons in an attempt to cope with the heat and humidity.

Writing, well one day he will see the need for it and his body and co-ordination will be ready for it. And in the mean time I will work on my patience.

And as the heat provides a challenge personally there have been many character learning moments for all of us.

Tuesday French and Pitville Park was as usual a highlight of the week, though I think it was topped today by Forest School when they got to make a fire. And though I was not there I heard that Bob came alive and his passion poured out ‘in a  good way’, Bob is fascinated by fire at the moment and being a fire fighter which has provided an unexpected tool in helping him in moments of challenge as we remind him when he starts to fizz that firefighters cannot do that, they have to remain very calm and in control and sharp. This has been a helpful tool for us all in navigating days when things are not running so smoothly. Wherever we go now he likes to check out the different types of fire extinguishers and while I know that water was not what was needed for an electrical fire I did not realise that there are for classes of fires and fire extinguishers.

It’s not been a week of major structure and ticking lessons off but as ever when I look back I can see how learning has been happening in all sorts of ways and not just for Bob but for all of us.

a safe place to be creative buddies walking home ed climbing tree