Monday, October 26, 2009

Till The Fat Lady Sings

“Do I need to pull over?”

Numerous strategies raced through my head as I tried to quickly assess the level of horror one little girl had silently achieved in the back seat, all while strapped in by her five point harness. Within seconds, I determined there was no way I could undo the damage with only my two hands. A car wash might not even do the job.

“Uh….yeah. We’re going to have to.”

Last Tuesday, my parents and I loaded up all three kids and went to my sister-in-law’s swearing in where she officially became an attorney. My one-year-old twins accepted Cheerio bribes in exchange for keeping reasonably quiet during the hour and a half long ceremony of less than memorable speeches. Afterwards, all the children continued to be on their best behavior as we celebrated with a sit-down luncheon.

As we exited the restaurant and buckled three tired children into their seats, I breathed a sigh of relief that everything had gone so well. My dad steered the van towards home and the wondrous stillness of naptime. And then it happened.

Amelia pooed in her diaper. Not such a bad thing—and we were only 20 minutes from home. But when my back was turned, she obviously decided to undertake a diaper change by herself…so she pulled a big wad of poo out of her bloomers . And smeared it on her face, her hands, her legs, the car seat, and (somehow) even inside the locking button for the car seat.

My dad pulled off at the next gas station and idled at the edge of the parking lot. My mom held a squirming, naked Amelia midair as I proceeded to wipe her down…all while trying to swat away swamp mosquitoes that were large enough to straddle a quarter. By the time Amelia and her car seat were cleaned enough to travel the rest of the way home, Emerson had five mosquito bites on his face.

In just a few short minutes, my memory of this day was permanently marked not by my children’s many well-behaved, uneventful hours, but by the disgusting horror that struck at the end.

As I was reading through Scripture this week, I saw this same pattern apply to several of Israel’s kings. I would be reading good historical “memories” of a particular king and then my jaw would drop when, at the end of his life, he would suddenly just lose it, turn against God, and commit such disobedient acts that this is how he would be remembered—for what he did last in life, not for the good he did for many years throughout his life.

For example, Uzziah was placed on Judah’s throne at age 16 and reigned for fifty-two years! During his reign, he “sought the Lord” (2 Chron. 26:5). With God’s help, he defeated the Philistines and several other nations. He fortified Jerusalem. He even commanded a standing army of over 300,000 warriors.

But with his strength and good reputation spreading far and wide, he became prideful and turned from his obedience to God’s law: “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense” (v. 16).

The priests called him on his sin. But did he repent? No. He became “enraged” that the priests would dare question a king’s action. And instantly, leprosy broke out on Uzziah’s forehead.

Sadly, Scripture doesn’t show him repenting of his sin. Instead, it shows a lonely ending to a life that had been otherwise focused on obeying God: “King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king's house judging the people of the land” (v. 21).

How was he remembered? For what he did last. As the king whom God struck with leprosy because of disobedience and disrespect for the house of God.

This same pattern occurs earlier with a more well-known king—Solomon. While he is remembered for his God-given wisdom and for building God’s holy temple, he also sticks out in my mind for how he ended his 40-year reign of Israel: “when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kin. 11:4).

This King who had seen God twice, who had been given the privilege of seeing God’s Shekinah glory fall from heaven and reside in the temple…this same king spent the end of his life building high places for his wives where he could worship with them the “detestable idols” of the Moabites, Ammonites, and the Sidonians (v. 7).

How sad. To live a long life dedicated to the Lord only to have that witness marred by scandal and by disobedience to God. To leave a legacy that no longer solely glorifies God.

And what’s more, how terrifying. To think of how easy it is to let down your guard, to loosen your standards when you’re close to the finish line of life or any other task. How easy it would be for me or you to end like King Solomon or Uzziah.

I don’t want this to be the way I end my story.

Let us live in constant awareness of how easy it is to let pride and the cares of this world draw us from the truth and obedience to God. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2a). Let us end well so that we can say, like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).


  1. What a great reminder. To not let our guard down but to keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our faith -- He is the one that enables us to finish well.

  2. Love the title. Pressing through and trusting Him as we try the path of obedience.

  3. Jennifer, your post is beautiful and so important! Yes, we must always stay aware of where we stand so that we do not fall (can't remember the exact scripture right now).

    And pride comes before destruction. May the Lord keep me sober and vigilant as a warrior of Jesus Christ, forever realizing I am saved by grace, and it is in that grace that I must remain.

    Thank you for wonderful wisdom and writing.



    P.S. I know it must have been quite an ordeal to clean up the poop. With four small grandchildren, I can relate to your story with sympathy and humor. :) Blessings to you and yorus.