Grateful Remembrance

Jabesh was in the crosshairs of the sadistic King Nahash. Frightfully outgunned, Jabesh’s leaders were considering surrendering.

“Here’s how it will go down,” said Nahash: “I’ll mark you as mine by gouging out the right eye of every one of you. You have a week to think about it—In seven days, you can fight me and die or submit to me and live the rest of your lives as one-eyed slaves.”

Jabesh messengers fanned out across Israel, appealing for help. When they told their story in Gibeah, Saul’s hometown, the whole town started bawling. Hearing the commotion, Saul asked, “Why is everyone crying?” They told him about Nahash’s eye-poking threat, and that got his dander up.

“Go home,” he told the Jabesh visitors—“Tell everyone that help is on the way. By noon tomorrow, your worries will be over.” Before the sun rose the next morning, Saul led his quickly assembled warriors in his first battle as the newly-anointed King of Israel—an attack on the Ammonite camp—and by noon, Nahash’s hoodlums were history.

It’s one of those “lived happily ever after” stories, for from that day forward, citizens of Jabesh greeted every dawn with nary an eye patch.

Fast-forward four decades to Saul’s last battle. The Philistines and Israelites went at it, and Israel got slaughtered. Saul and his three sons died in that fight. The Philistines desecrated their bodies—cut off their heads, stripped them, and nailed their nude corpses to the fortress wall at Beth Shan.

When news of that vulgar scene reached the still-grateful men of Jabesh, they crept through the darkness of night, risking their lives to fetch the body of the king who had crept through the darkness of night forty years earlier to rescue them from half-blind slavery. They brought the bodies of Saul and his sons back to Jabesh and gave them a proper burial.

They hadn’t forgotten.

Have we?

Have you forgotten the teacher who took an interest in you and made you feel special? The grandparent who loved you, listened to you, and assured you that everything was going to be OK? The church leader who encouraged you, believed in you?

How about the church where you grew up—the church that rescued you from the life that might-have-been? The church that provided a foundation that kept you from stumbling through life half-blind—that gave you a value system that you live by to this day; a faith that is the underpinning on which your life has been built; an unwavering conviction that when all is said and done, it is spiritual values that count.

Some seem to feel a need to impress others with their growth by belittling the church of their youth and scorching the teachers who taught them things that they no longer believe; giving off an air of superior knowledge and spirituality.

Do you know more than those who taught you? Maybe. Have you outgrown them and other fellow Christians spiritually? Possibly.

There are those who think they have outgrown their past, rejected their history, and moved on. If you ever decide to do that, please do it with grace and decency. At the very least, hold in grateful remembrance those who gave you your start and helped shape you; don’t trash-talk your beginnings.

That would be like driving by the elementary school you attended, condescendingly talking about how backward and ignorant those teachers were. It was there that you learned the basics of arithmetic, spelling, and grammar. And that’s what got you into junior high school, which got you into high school, which got you into college, which got you where you are.

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