Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 104: I Samuel 22-24; Psalm 87; Acts 1

Casting Lots
Which way should we go? What should we do? Who do we choose?

Questions like these are crossroads of us all as we make our way on the road of life. At first, the questions seems simple. We just have to choose between directions on a compass point, right? We just have to make a decision on which task or undertaking to take on, correct? When choosing between nominees, then we should base our votes on how we see the candidates as viable for the office, easy?

Those answers should be easy enough to determine, but what happens when God (and God's will for us) is in the mix? In I Samuel, we have an object lesson in the person of Saul with regard to what life looks like when we take the life and authority we have from God and impose our own will upon it, eschewing God's intent in favor of our own. We know what not to do...but knowing what not to do is only half the journey to life in God. The other half is tougher to embrace: opening ourselves fully to what God intends, to the point where we place our trust completely in seeking and discerning God's will and then choosing to immerse ourselves in it, body and soul.

The lots cast...
On first glance, the casting of lots seems like a less-than-rational act. For David and his followers, however, it is a way to refrain from the errors of Saul. What does God intend for us to do? That is the big question that marks a willingness in us to let God work through us to the fulfillment of God's intent for the world. The lots that are cast are the same ones Moses and the Israelites in the Exodus relied on to guide them through the wilderness. They are the same lots used to apportion the Promised Land to the tribes. They are the lots used to guide Israel during the time of the Judges. These are more than just some dice, and the blind trust made in the laws of probability. It is a way for these ancients to actively invite God into their midst before any decisions are made. Imagine that: seeking the consultation of God before you make what you suppose to be a mundane decision! Yet, that is what they do.

the election of Matthias
The model persists into the age of the apostles. Peter stands in the midst of the assembly as they absorb Jesus' ascension and await the coming of the Spirit to call for the selection of one of their number to replace Judas Iscariot, Jesus' betrayer. Again, trust in God is paramount: and so they cast lots in order to determine who of the two nominees is to take Judas' place. Odd that this is the only time we really see reference to Matthias...just that he is selected to join the 12 by the casting of lots. The significance? Again, more than just a simple casting of dice and a willingness to trust in chance.

The intent is to place total trust in God to guide the people into the correct choices. Nowadays, we call it discernment. It means going beyond what our intellects, our experience, our gut, our prejudices even...into a place where we are willing to suspend judgment while allowing God to be present and guide the group to a deeper consensus. It means surrendering our personal agendas and certainties while at the same time opening ourselves to the Spirit's guidance. It means being willing to make God the center of the process.

The ancients accomplished that with the casting of lots. For us today, it means being willing to trust in something greater than ourselves: in God's guidance and will prayerfully discerned and then embraced with commitment.

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