Empty Handed

1 Samuel 9: 6 – 7

And he said to him, “Behold now, there is a man of God in this city, and the man is held in honor; all that he says surely comes true. Now let us go there, perhaps he can tell us about our journey on which we have set out.” Then Saul said to his servant, “But behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread is gone from our sack and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?”

This passage arrested me when I read it recently because of the contrast in my own life. Saul, who would become the first king of Israel, and his servant were out searching for lost donkeys. They had exhausted every idea they had having searched widely for the missing livestock. So the servant got a bright idea. “Let us go and ask the man of God,” he suggested.

How many times do we wander around in the desert until finally we have spent all our strength? When we are exhausted and out of ideas we decide to inquire of the Lord. How much time and grief could we save if we would begin by asking God? This week I looked high and low for the straps to my roof top carrier. After I spent a crazy amount of time and was getting quite frustrated I stopped and asked God to help me. Duh! And you know the rest of the story. I went and looked again where I had looked before. They were not there but as I turned and was leaving I glimpsed a bit of black beneath a green bag and the thought immediately occurred to me that there, below that bag were the objects of my frantic search. Wow!  

I should know better but there you are. It seems we want to go to the lengths of our strength and ability before we involve God. That is not what Jesus is teaching us. We are to walk with him and with the Holy Spirit every single step, never on our own.

I love Saul’s response to his servant. He essentially asks, “What gift shall we give to the man of God?” Saul hesitated in going up the God’s servant because he had no offering to give. Reading Saul’s response caused me to think and I realized that never, not once in all of the times that I have gone to a pastor for help or advice have I taken a gift with me. Pastoring and ministering are not that different from the practice of law. In both professions one spends great amounts of time preparing so that when advice is needed the answer is readily available. It is not what the lawyer or pastor does in your presence that is critical. It is that time that she or he has spent before the Lord or in the books before you ever arrived, before, even, your problem ever arose that is of the utmost importance. A lawyer is going to charge us $250 an hour, or more, for advice but we really do expect our pastors to give away their knowledge for free. Interesting, huh?

So, here are two subtle changes that we can make in our lives that I truly believe will help our lives flow more smoothly and with greater blessing. Let us ask for God’s help in the beginning of everything we do and let us endeavor to be a blessing to our pastors, mentors and leaders. In his name, Amen.