Tuesday, August 9, 2011
To Do the Right Thing just because it's the Right Thing
Have you ever been stuck in your usual routine when something unexpected jolts you out of your complacency and changes your life?
During my daily Bible delve, I've been reading over King Josiah's story. He was great grandson of the admirable King Hezekiah but came in line after a very slack and wicked father and grandfather had held the reins for too long. He inherited Judah's throne aged 8, and probably thought the first part of his reign was about keeping the status quo. Yet one day, when this young man was 26, something unexpected happened that proved to be a pivotal moment in his life. The Book of God's Revelation, buried and ignored in the temple for years, was re-discovered.
Horrified and aghast to hear the words Moses wrote so long ago, it struck our young hero forcefully that for years, he and his people were doing all the things they shouldn't have been and none of the things they should have been. He and his closest supporters consulted a prophetess named Huldah, who revealed with great conviction that God did indeed intend to allow judgment to catch up with the people of Judah. It would be a sowing and reaping scenario. She said that Josiah himself would be spared to a peaceful grave, as God intended to honour his earnest change of heart, but as for the mass in general, they were not going to change in a hurry.
Now, knowing this to be true, Josiah went out and began his massive-scale, hard-core reforms anyway. He read out the Law to all the people, got rid of the twisted and perverted sacrificial and prostitution sites and smashed up the obscene relics and images he found everywhere. What impresses me most about him is that he did all this knowing full well that it would be of no long-term use. As Huldah had an excellent track record as a prophetess, he had no reason to doubt her word. The people would turn to their depraved ways again and the land would be taken under captivity. In retrospect, we know this is exactly what did happen. So did he waste his time?
Would I have done the same in King Josiah's place? Although I'd like to think I would, I'm not sure. Knowing the dismal outcome, I think it would have been too easy for me to say, "What would be the use? As well as wasting valuable energy that could be better invested elsewhere, I'll be making myself extremely unpopular. I'll worship God myself, but as for everyone else, what they do in their own time is their business." Thank God Josiah didn't take this wishy-washy approach, and that is what makes him my hero and example.
I've been writing Christian novels set in South Australia. I've been at it for over ten years with no sign that Australian Christian fiction is ever going to 'take-off.' In fact, the only signs that exist indicate just the opposite. It's so much cheaper for our main retail outlets to purchase remaindered books from foreign shores. We can't compete financially, so why bother trying? I'd like to think that if we pray, God will do something amazing, but we just don't have that reassurance. Does it bother me that I might be investing years of financial and emotional energy for no real, tangible success? Yeah, you bet it does! I've got to be honest.
Then I remember King Josiah, who did the right thing just because he knew it was the right thing and there was no way he could sit back and not do it. The one thing I'm certain of is that writing the novels is the right thing for me to do. I sense that deep in my heart. There have been other signs along the way to encourage me. Josiah had a sign too. During his major clean-up, he came across the tomb of an old prophet from years ago who'd actually predicted his reforms and even mentioned him by name (1Kings 13:2). Wow, that must have given Josiah a huge boost in his spirits.
Do you have anything worthwhile but difficult you're trying to achieve? Does it feel more as if you're bashing your head against a brick wall, but you can't stop because it just wouldn't be right to quit? It might involve work, family members or a community project. I'd encourage you to make my hero, Josiah, your hero too, and keep plugging on.
As for him, you've got to love the way his reign and life are summed up.
"There was no king to compare with Josiah - neither before nor after - a king who turned in total repentant obedience to God, heart mind and strength, following the instructions revealed to and written by Moses. The world would never again see a king like Josiah." Wow, that's enough to raise goosebumps. A pretty complimentary epitaph to be found anywhere, let alone in Scripture. So let's keep doing what needs to be done in our own lives.
* You can find Josiah's story in 2Kings 22 - 23 and 2Chronicles 34 - 35.