The Field

“The Field,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Churchill certainly got it right when he said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Of course, most of us would love to get through life without offending anyone.  Conflict, after all, isn’t generally fun.

Yet, in this world, few people escape unscathed by conflict.

Yup. If you step out the door and onto the field, you enter life’s conflict. Attempt to accomplish anything, your chances of developing enemies increases exponentially…

I learned this the hard way some years ago.  At the time, I had taken some time off from a high pressure career; however, in need of income, I picked up work as a Literature Instructor.

Because of my educational background, I was assigned several popular sections of English Literature. Naturally, I was delighted.

But my new department chair? Not so much.

She had long desired those particular classes.

It didn’t matter that I performed my duties well;  because of her ambition, she sought to poison my reputation.

Perhaps, you’ve been in a similar situation. It’s a common scenario, especially in the workplace.

If you step out the door and onto the field, you enter life’s conflict.

Out in the field, you and I meet all kinds of people.

 

At times, the betrayal seems more than you can bear. Reeling from such blows, you and I naturally feel anger, disappointment and yes, heartbreak.

Without  a doubt, human nature longs to self-protect. Under the right conditions, retaliation actually appeals.

W certainly don’t have to look far to find someone who will applaud revenge.

Even so, Christ taught us to forgive our enemies; to offer grace; to walk the second mile. But I haven’t always understood how that all plays out in the field.

Does walking with mercy and grace mean I play the doormat?

 

Until recently, I wasn’t sure that God directly addressed the issue.

But the Holy Spirit has a way of teaching me something new every time I read through God’s word.

In fact, as I plodded my way through Exodus’ lengthy list of civil and moral codes, God highlighted Moses’ experiences with interpersonal conflict.

Of course, Mo’ had confronted Pharaoh over and over again.

After such a dramatic demonstration of God’s power, he probably never expected the betrayal of Exodus chapter 32.

Out in the field, you and I meet all kinds of people.

Aaron, Mo’s brother, had stood by Moses through the ten plagues and through the desert.  He witnessed the miracle at the Red Sea.

Brother Aaron also watched Yahweh provide manna and water in the wilderness.

And when Moses stood before God on Mount Sinai, God outlined Aaron’s honored role as high priest in service to God.

I’m sure Moses could think of no better right-hand than his brother. After all, they’d been through a lot together.

For this reason, Aaron lead in Moses’ stead when brother Mo’ met with God on Sinai.

Evidently, God had a lot to say because Moses spent forty days and forty nights on the Mount (Exodus 24:18).

Forty days with God…That definitely qualifies as a mountain-top experience to beat all mountain-top experiences!

As their time together came to a close, Yahweh gave Moses the law inscribed by the “hand of God.”

I imagine Moses’ step quickened as he descended Mt. Sinai; he likely anticipated telling his brother all that God had spoken.

But as Moses descended, he probably became increasingly uneasy. Joshua, who had stood guard part way up the mountain, finally put Mo’s concerns into words.

Josh said, “There is a sound of war in the camp,” (Exodus 32:18).

Moses, however, questioned Josh’s theory. “It is not the sound of the cry of triumph, Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat; But the sound of singing I hear,” he said (Exodus 32:18).

Forty days with God definitely qualifies as a mountain-top experience to beat all mountain-top experiences!

When Moses arrived at camp, he discovered God’s chosen high priest leading the people in idolatry.

From the mountaintop to the desert floor; from the hilltops to the plains… Moses returned to face opposition and hardship in his day-to-day workplace.

Betrayed by his brother. Disappointed by God’s people.

It isn’t surprising that Moses became angry.

And Mo’ smashed the tablets…

Actually, when I think about it, it was a fitting response. The people had already broken the law of God even before Moses had a chance to present it to them. Their pagan revelry broke a good many of the ten commandments even beyond the most obvious.

Even so, Moses initially gave Aaron the benefit of the doubt:  “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?” (Exodus 32:21).

Aaron’s response kills me. In fact, while reading Aaron’s response during my morning study, I nearly spewed my cup of tea.

Aaron self-justified:  “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil…”

It’s not my fault…the people forced me to make the golden calf. They are evil.

Without hesitation, Aaron chose to ride the benefit of the doubt as far as it would take him.

Perhaps, one of your colleagues has betrayed you. Maybe, after being caught in gossip or slander, your co-worker attempts to cover it up. And you find yourself listening to absurd rationales.

If so, you can certainly understand the difficult position in which Moses found himself.

After explaining that the people demanded the idol, Aaron reported, “And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.'”

I didn’t do it, claimed Aaron. The calf just popped out of the fire.

I can well imagine Moses rolling his eyes.

Not only had Aaron betrayed Moses’ faith, but he also failed to offer a credible explanation.

No Yahweh follower would have blamed Mo for meting out firm justice. Aaron’s excuses were flimsy at best.

From the mountaintop to the desert floor; from the hilltops to the plains… Moses returned to face opposition and hardship in his day-to-day workplace.

Even so, the once fiery Moses, the man who killed an Egyptian who threatened an Israeli, chose to offer grace.

But as a leader, Moses also had to reestablish trust.

Thus, Moses offered Aaron, the Levites, and the rest of God’s people an opportunity to repent.

Standing in the gate of the camp, Moses said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” (Exodus 32:26).

In other words, Moses asked for a demonstration of loyalty to God.  Both grace and justice called.

On one hand, the camp could not stand divided. Split loyalties would destroy God’s people. Civil war and unrest would break out.

Thus, those who turned away from Yahweh must be sorted out. The nation’s survival depended upon it.

Yet, in a stunning demonstration of both wisdom and grace, Moses called Aaron and the people to recommit their lives to God.

It would have been easy to simply repudiate Aaron.  Instead, Moses gave grace.

My “aha!” moment?  By calling for public expression of loyalty to God, Moses most certainly did not play the doormat.

Yeah, Moses shows me what grace looks like in the field.

But here it is:  Moses most certainly did not play the doormat.

Faith reminds me that God’s purpose will not be thwarted, (Job 42:2).

For this reason, His command that we “love our enemies” is more than possible.  Yet, He has also warned, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore, be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves,” (Matthew 10:16).

Our Savior understands the importance of trust. Loyalties must be established for unity’s sake. Thus, Moses said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” (Exodus 32:26).

Grace, yes!

But at the same time, no doormats here… just Christ followers who trust the Sovereign-Shepherd to complete the good work He has begun.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person,” ~1 Thessalonians 4:6

72 Replies to “The Field”

  1. I actually told myself to just click “like” and not comment on all of your posts but gosh darn Lynn, you do make it difficult. I could almost see you with the tea. You are so right, it is almost comical, Aaron’s response, when you stop to think about it. And you calling Moses “Mo”, I loved that too. And then the doormat … that’s always a hard one because we have this picture about loving our enemies or those who have betrayed us. Honouring God doesn’t mean letting things pertaining to God slide or get pushed aside. Grace can and should be offered but if it is rejected, you don’t join their team, you part ways, you know, like Mo did. Loved your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you, Bruce! You have truly added greatly to the post with your deep, trustworthy wisdom! Thank you for doing more than simply clicking “like” today… I especially loved what you said when you wrote, ” Honouring God doesn’t mean letting things pertaining to God slide or get pushed aside. Grace can and should be offered but if it is rejected, you don’t join their team…” So very true! Thank you for your great, godly wisdom. God bless you greatly, my wonderful friend and brother!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Lynn for the real life insights. There seems to always be a precedent in scripture from those who have gone before us for our situations encountered. I have been both a doormat and a stumbling block when I bypass Gods wisdom and grace.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It is difficult to forgive, and it is difficult to ask for and accept forgiveness.

    We don’t learn very fast. Aaron betrayed Moses again (Numbers 12). I don’t think Aaron and Miriam liked being second fiddle, but that was the job God had given them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Warren! Your encouragement means the world to me!! Please forgive me for being so quiet this week. I’ve been saving your posts in my inbox so that I can get by to read and reflect. However, my week has been filled with helping to move my son into his new apartment… and I’ve been so tired that I’ve fallen asleep each evening as I’ve tried to catch up on my blog reading. I don’t wish to fall asleep on your wonderful posts since they invariably speak deeply to me. Thus, I’m hoping that after a little catch-up on my rest, I will be ready to relish the posts at one of my most favorite blogs–yours! God bless you greatly, my friend! 🙂

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  4. Oh, Lynn, thank you for this post. I learned it the hard way also. The school board members, even the superintendent liked to pick my brain, but their interest came first and forgot about me. Sadly I learned it so well that the last few years of my career, I did it as a job.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I’m so glad that this resonated with you, dear Miriam! And thank you for so honestly sharing your experience. You are such an encouragement to me and I know your experience will encourage others as well! God bless you beyond all that you can imagine, dear Miriam!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Lynn, you always inspire me with your thoughts and words. I feel like preaching… This is the Word of God warning us against false apostles: “You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!…You have such admirable tolerance for impostors who rob your freedom, rip you off, steal you blind, put you down—even slap your face! I shouldn’t admit it to you, but our stomachs aren’t strong enough to tolerate that kind of stuff” (2Cor 11:19-21; NIV, TM).

    This is a very practical warning! It is not just a theoretical Bible school test. The devil, who works behind these false brethren, desires to make us (the children of God) become his servants, his ‘foot-mats’. The only way the devil can control (not posses) a true believer is thru deception. Deception is the act of deliberately making someone believe a lie. Many in the church are deceived. They display false humility (which is an inverted pride). They bow down to the (religious) devil and ignorantly, they call him ‘lord’. The effect of deception upon a Christian is spiritual passivity, false humility and dangerous foolishness.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ has set us free to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. We are free and empowered to think, feel and make choices to the glory of God! True humility is the fruit of divine wisdom and always wins the victory! Humble people are the true champions! By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to identify and reject fake and deceptive words! As disciples of Christ, we receive and believe the Word of God! Glory to God!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And you, dear Lia, never fail to bless me with your anointed teaching and true, godly wisdom! Thank you for sharing what the Lord brought to remembrance here! Your words are deep, godly, Biblical, and true! And you both encourage and inspire! God bless you, my wonderful friend. ❤ ❤

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  6. This is such a sensitive topic. I’m sure we can all remember a time that someone set themselves up as our enemy, and it hurts! And yet it’s sad how easily sin can creep in without a thought, and we need to be reminded of where the line in the sand has been drawn and on which side we profess to stand. Yes, we all need grace, desperately! Thank you for the reminder. God bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your wonderful and thoughtful comment, dear Linda! Your words exude such wisdom. And I so appreciate all the insight that you have included in your words here. I’m truly blessed by your friendship and thoughts! May God continue to bless you and your ministry in extraordinary ways! ❤ and hugs!

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  7. Lynn, Thank you for this! Grace but not a doormat. Great example. English literature, beautiful paintings, a way with words … it’s all coming into focus. God has created a beautiful and creative way to demonstrate His great love for His people through you. Thank you for being God’s instrument, God’s poem as you walk in the path that He has set before you. Wishing you beauty, grace, wisdom, and love, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Karen… your comment is so beautiful and written so poetically in and of itself! Thank you with all my heart for your thoughtful and kind encouragement. Your friendship is truly a blessing! God bless you with every good thing, my wonderful friend. ❤ ❤

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  8. Amen-Amein Sister in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Lynnl!! God Bless you Sister in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Lynn and Your Family members and Friends!! ❤

    May our ONE TRUE GOD THE FATHER who art in Heaven Above Bless all my Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus-Yeshua and my Messianic Jewish Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus-Yeshua and Your Families and Friends!!

    I Love you all Everyone through Jesus-Yeshua Christ, because HE LOVED 💜💕 EVERYONE FIRST!!

    Love 💕 Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I agree, it is amazing how the Holy Spirit guides us in times when we need answers. I think Aaron just shows how God can use anyone, the priesthood was formed from this bloodline. We can step so out of line, and God looks at us and STILL says, “I can use you. I can mold you in My image. I’m the Potter after all.”

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    1. Amen!! And Amen, again!! You are soo right, dear TR! And I, for one, am incredibly grateful for His unmerited favor and grace!! Thank you for these beautiful words! You encourage me continually, and my heart sings praise reading your words here today! Love you, my dear friend! ❤ ❤

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  10. A Powerful Message Lynn filled with God’s Truth, Thank you

    Yes holding onto bitterness and resentment and seeking revenge is like mixing Poison for those who have hurt us but drinking it ourselves it is like Cancer it eats away all the goodness in us but when we forgive others than God can forgive us, the wall of Sin and disobedience is broken down that separates us from Him.

    Christian Love Lynn and God’s Blessings – Anne.

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