Today's passage is 2 Samuel 18:19-33. Let's go!
2 Samuel 18:22-23 (NIV)
22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, "Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite." But Joab replied, "My son, why do you want to go? You don't have any news that will bring you a reward."
23 He said, "Come what may, I want to run." So Joab said, "Run!" Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite.
On verses 19-23: Joab chooses a Cushite to deliver the news about Absalom's defeat to King David. But Ahimaaz really wants to run and try to deliver the message as well, even though there was no monetary reward he could get for it (v22). Ahimaaz keeps politely asking Joab for the opportunity to run and when Joab lets him run, Ahimaaz ends up outrunning the Cushite (v23).
What can we learn from this? How do you know when God has given you a passion for something? You can tell from these five clues:
1. No one needs to tell you to do it. You just do it out of your own initiative.
2. No one needs to pay you to do it. You do it because you love it.
3. You do it well. Just as Ahimaaz outran the Cushite, in your area of passion you tend to outrun the competition.
4. You do it repeatedly. This wasn't the first time Ahimaaz ran to deliver a message. We saw him do this before when he delivered a life saving message to David in 2 Samuel 17. Likewise, when you're passionate about something, you won't settle for doing it just once. You'll want to keep on doing it.
5. You do it persistently. When your passionate about something, you don't let obstacles get in your way and you don't quit easily. Notice that when Joab passed over Ahimaaz and choose a Cushite to run instead, Ahimaaz remained persistent and polite toward Joab. Ahimaaz did not step over his leader or rebel against him; rather he politely asked his leader again and eventually he got the opportunity to run. True passion always comes out in the form of persistence. You do it even when it hurts.
What has God given you a passion for? Run with it and do it for His glory.
2 Samuel 18:32-33 (NIV)
32 The king asked the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" The Cushite replied, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man."
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you--O Absalom, my son, my son!"
On verses 24-33: To me this is one of the most heartbreaking passages in the Bible. I could imagine that when David gets the news that Absalom has been killed, he is at first shocked, but his shock gives way to absolute heartbreak. For a moment David probably questions how Joab and his soldiers could allow his son to be killed despite his strict orders to protect him. But then his heart can't stay in that train of thought. Instead, David thinks about his son. I could see David recalling the day Absalom was born, the day he first held Absalom in his arms, Absalom's first steps, Absalom growing up, things about Absalom that David loved. Then David probably thought of Absalom's rebellious years as a teenager, and all the heartbreaking things that unfolded as Absalom got older. As David remembers his son he thinks of all the things he wish he had done differently as a father. There are so many emotions that David is feeling -- tremendous grief, shock, regret, horror, unbelief -- that all David can say is, "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you--O Absalom, my son, my son!" (v33)
This is the worst moment of David's life. Any parent who has ever lost a child can relate. David was not the perfect father. Absalom was not the perfect son. But there is no doubt that David loved his son Absalom from the bottom of his heart.
That is how David grieved for his son Absalom, a son who rebelled against David in the worst way, who stole David's throne, who plotted to kill David and who ran him out of the country. If that is how much David grieved over a rebellious son, imagine the grief that our Heavenly Father experienced when His perfect, always obedient, always loving, always adorable son Jesus was killed on a cross by ruthless men. I know that weather is not necessarily a sign of God's emotions, but on that day when Jesus hung on the cross, I can't help but think that the reason why darkness came over the entire land was because the Father's heart had never been so broken (Luke 23:44).
I began today's GAME sharing talking about Ahimaaz's passion for running and delivering messages. But do you know that long before people used the term "passion" to describe things such as our interest in music, sport or people, the term "passion" was originally used to describe the suffering Jesus went through on the cross? That's why you get the term the "passion of the Christ".
On this day let's not make light of how David felt when he lost Absalom, or how the Father must have felt when His Son Jesus died. If Jesus had to suffer and die for us to be saved, what a high price God paid to save us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for passion -- not just the passion you give us individually for music, sport or people, but even more for the passion of Jesus Christ who died on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God. Thank You that it was passion that drove Jesus to the cross. May we love Him passionately in return. In Jesus' name, AMEN!