Tag Archives: wineskins

30: Deceived

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However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended.” Joshua 9: 3-4 NIV

The verse that we looked at yesterday was all part of a deception that the Gibeonites enacted upon Joshua and the Israelites, in hopes that their nearby lands would not be taken over. And it was very successful. Having tricked been tricked into making a treaty, the Israelites could not then break their oath. But the scripture is clear on why the ruse worked so well. The Israelites did not enquire of the Lord.

How often do we make the same mistake! It is so easy, when things seem obvious and the facts and way forward are laid in front of us, to carry on regardless, and forget to pray. I think this is one of the reasons I loathe phrases like “God helps those who help themselves,” because for me the path of following Christ is always more and more of him and less of me. It is always more dependence on his grace lived out and prayed for in every circumstance (big or small) and less self-reliance. In fact, I might go as far as to say that relying on my own wisdom can get me into all sorts of trouble.

Following my God-given instincts prayerfully and relying on the truth of scripture is good practice in life. And all decisions need to be taken with him and not on our own running to him later and saying, didn’t I do well? The longer I live the more I ask the Lord into everything and although there is a confidence based on knowing his ways, this too is founded on trust that he knows best and I don’t. This is probably why I don’t always have confidence when I write theology, because I have no training, but that very fact (though sincerely a weakness and not a strength) means that I can and must lean into him for the wisdom I do not own.

Getting out of our own way, letting him shine, enquiring of him at every crossroads, these are staples of Christian discipleship and growth we should nurture, lest we find ourselves bound by treaties we should never have agreed to.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com

 

29: Cracked

cracked egg Earl53 MF

And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.” Joshua 9:13 NIV

I don’t know the circumstances of your life, dear reader, but I’m sure that at some point you have known something of the way I feel today, cracked and dried up and worn out. I am struggling even to write this piece, my energy is so low. And yet the Lord is quick to bless me with the understanding that being cracked is often the first step towards the release of precious things. I am probably cracked to let my soul sing out his praises today when all the circumstances of life are hard. I am probably half-baked, delirious, seeing much desired mirages, trudging along in the dry places and desperate to find an oasis. How often do we come to such dryness in life and fall on our knees in thankfulness to drink from the running streams that God can bring forth even from the cracking of a rock?

Eggs are cracked to release yolk and white, or the life of a young bird. Earth is cracked to release green shoots, and the seed cases and nuts and beans themselves must also be cracked by life to germinate and travel onwards. Cracks in the ground pour forth spring water, tiny cracks in our skin allow it to breathe. Mountains crack over millennia to let rivers form. There are few shells and containers and hearts in life that are immune to cracking, and it is only lifeless eggs that never crack, and hard hearts that never leak compassion. Light, life, love and imagination must break out and burst forth.

There is nothing to be despised in the old and weary and weathered. We are cracked souls where the light gets in to the world, and the Lord does not despise a contrite heart.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com