Mary Had a Little Lamb

5 Aug

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 10 After Pentecost 05 August 2012

Mary Had a Little Lamb

“But the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.” (2 Sam 12:3)

Sarah Josepha Hale wrote the poem “Mary’s Lamb,” which was published in a children’s periodical: the September 1830 issue of Juvenile Miscellany.[1]  It is also interesting to note that the words were “the first ever recorded by Thomas Edison, on tin foil, on his phonograph.”[2]

Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
That was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the Teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear:

And then he ran to her, and laid
His head upon her arm,
As if he said, “I’m not afraid,
You’ll save me from all harm.”

“What makes the lamb love Mary so?”
The little children cry-
“O Mary loves the lamb, you know,”
The teacher did reply:

“And you each gentle animal
In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your call,
If you are always kind.”[3]

I am touched by the last stanza.  Gentleness and kindness are the true “Call to Arms,” arms to bear softness, hugs, compassion, faithfulness, and fruits of the Spirit.  Those fruits of the Spirit flowed from Jesus Himself.  He had said,

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

The “I AM” is a being state.  It is God’s essence and character fused in us. God’s seal was on Christ (Jn 6:27) so we are sealed through Him in faith.  [“Such a deal!” she says with a Yiddish accent.]  This relationship isn’t forced or manipulated.  It requires belief, just as in any relationship; for a relationship (either good or bad) is founded on belief in that relationship. (Jn 6:29)  Belief can be encouraged by signs but inevitably signs will become an idol as soon as the heart starts salivating for signs to prove the foundation of the relationship; ie “If you really loved me, then you would…” and thereby relying on a conditional stance. 

Jn 6:26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

Conditional love feels satiated when it gets what it wants but the love can’t last or endure. (v 27)  God’s love is unconditional and Jesus was the Lamb Who showed it with His life.  Part of our relationship with belief in Christ is learning to trust and rely on the spiritual gifts God has given us.  The gifts vary to unify us (Eph 4:13) as we work together using our gifts in harmony toward building up the Body as we keep our eyes on Christ. (v 12) 

We do live lives in active participation with God.  Using our gifts is part of that relationship activity.  But activity is not the same as performance, which many in our testosterone-driven culture equate with productivity.  Even artists and athletes are often driven to crank out more pieces or win more medals.  We perform so we expect God to perform.  The crowds in Capernaum (v 24) wanted to know what they could do to perform. (v 28, 30)

Jn 6:30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?

This week I sat with this question for the longest time thinking that it was an odd question.  Suddenly I remembered from my own experience before my mystical marriage in Christ on 14 May 2008 and how I was absolutely driven by perpetual performance anxiety.  I had to do more, always more.  And because I usually did “it” well (whatever it was) others expected more of me, so the cycle perpetuated itself.  I didn’t know that just because I did something well didn’t mean that I was necessarily called to do it.  I didn’t have that discernment yet.  It wasn’t until I was accosted by Christ’s love and I experienced a deep peace the likes of which I’d never known before, that this peace gave me a contrast to hold up to the performance anxiety to show me what it was.  Until my courtship with Christ I didn’t have the bass relief contrast of deep peace held up to a wave of performance anxiety to show me the contrast.  Then I could see them side by side.  Up until then I didn’t know I’d been living in that performance mode (and the anxiety that went along with it.)  I suddenly realized that what I thought was normal actually wasn’t and it disturbed my alignment and relationship with God and myself.  I had thought that disharmonic resonance was normal.  Without the contrast, I had nothing to gauge what “normal” was.  However, I did believe. (v 29)

Jn 6:32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.

For me, my “bread from heaven” was peace and purpose.  It may be different for you as everyone has different needs and only God can meet those really deep needs.  My own heart craved peace and purpose, but I really didn’t know what those were until I met Christ.  (ref Ps 78:29)  As I was praying this week, I imagined taking Mary’s Lamb to Israel.  I wondered if the Israelites have ever discovered times of peace and purpose.  Paul had said, “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (Ro 11:25)  I’m one of those Gentiles.  And I also know that God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. (Ro 11:29)  God works even through hard hearts and disobedience to reveal Himself and His great mercy. (Ro 11)  I was wondering about this disobedience, which we are certainly all guilty of (v 30), for what child doesn’t test their parent to discover his own boundaries and limits in order to grow into deeper maturity himself?

King David, too, had to grow into deeper maturity.  He had tested and grieved God (although I doubt he was thinking much of God in those moments.)  He followed his hormones one day, saw Bathsheba bathing (2 Sam 11:2), fell in lust, and David proceeded to issue her husband’s death warrant to be carried in her husband’s own hands [!] to the frontline. (v 14)  David wanted to make sure that Uriah would die at the forefront of the hardest fighting. (v15)  I thought how often we really do that even now to each other.  There are times when we do it unintentionally and other times when we make political calculations to “throw each other under the bus,” but in any case we still do it.  Probably our greatest offence of disobedience is not ‘fessing up that we do it.  King David didn’t confess he’d sinned against God until Nathan the Prophet told him the story about the little pet lamb of a poor man, and the family lamb was slaughtered because a rich man was loath [!] to take one of his own flock to prepare for his traveling guest. (2 Sam 12:4)  For us, Christ was the little Lamb, Whose fleece was white as snow (Isa 1:18) and He was slaughtered because of mankind’s insatiable appetite.  Nathan had passed along God’s consequence to King David when He said,

2 Sam 12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

12:11 Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun.

12:12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

It is rather stunning how God has done exactly what He promised David three thousand years ago!  And God has not done it secretly just as He promised.  The “sword” stayed in the Israeli “house” just as it stayed in the Christian “house.”  The “sword” (as in meaning strife) really has never departed the House of Israel, no matter how hard the People of God have tried to make friends.  In another vein, the “sword” (as in meaning the concept of protection) has also never departed from the House of Israel.  God has protected His people.  There is also another juxtaposition of Truth in the meaning of “sword:” the “sword” of the Spirit.  In an ironic and beautiful twist as only God can do, Israel today has a well-guarded skill and gifting which she does not want to depart from her “house” (land.)  The Nation of Israel has been gifted the corporate gift of Discernment.  (Nations and tribes have corporate gifts just as individuals and churches have spiritual gifts.)  This gift of discernment came about because Israel has had trouble within her own “house,” and one of the best ways to get to the root of trouble is to ask for the gift of discernment.  Where there’s stress and deceit, you can bet there’s a spirit behind it.  So, what did Israel do?  My father told me (and I have also heard it confirmed) that airport officials are so skilled and trained in spiritual and psychological discernment that they have no security issues with hijackers, bomb threats and terrorists boarding their planes.  They’ve had no issues since 1972.[4]  Why?  The ground crew can sniff out who’s not kosher.  And truly, evil does have a bad smell.  Is that “profiling” or is it actually discerning?  I propose that it is discernment, because profiling in and of itself is rooted in the psycho-social base of ego-self and its powers.  Spiritual discernment takes those skills and relies on the Holy Spirit to lead, coach, and navigate through the spiritual landmines.  It may look like profiling on the surface, but there is an intuitive difference where the spiritual eye and ear keep looking and listening for God’s leadership and not the ego’s.  Sometimes discernment takes the form of simple common sense, and sometimes it’s an extra “knowing” that goes beyond mere hunch or suspicion.  Discernment of spirits cuts through the attitudes, body language, and demeanor to “pick up” energies on the spiritual radar.  It definitely is a gift and not something man can conjure up on his own.  However, it is possible to learn the art of discernment from others with more experience and wisdom.  We can learn to know what we are looking at, how to navigate through the storms, and encourage each other through the process.  Please pray with me that ALL nations would learn from Israel and ask the Holy Spirit for the two gifts of discernment: 1) the gift of Discernment itself (meaning the not-so-common gift of common sense) and 2) the gift of Discernment of spirits.  Ask for these gifts, so that everyone can lay down their “swords” of senseless violence in all its forms.  For when the people themselves can discern the spirits of deception and distortion, then they can further learn to trust all their gifts from God, and then also learn to rely on them and Him. Then the walls can come down, the Truth can come out, and righteousness can reign.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are “bread from heaven” and they do give life to the world.

Jn 6:33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

The bread of God doesn’t manipulate.  Jesus confronted spirits and told them where to go, and He never manipulated them.  He stood anchored in the knowledge of Who He was and Whose He was.  And the spirits respected Him.  He also treated them with healthy respect and wouldn’t let them continue spreading their contamination.  This respect must also return to us.  Those with the gift of discernment must be cherished and honored for they offer an invaluable ministry in building up the whole body.  They must not be feared but respected and leaned upon.  I say this in light of the fact that it was common practice when I was in the psych and social work world to see clients get medicated because they had the gift of discernment of spirits.  (Although I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time.  I just knew that something was wrong with the “professionals” and I could sense their arrogance and condescending superiority.)  What these clients needed were spiritually mature people to come alongside them and help them understand and learn to rely on their spiritual gifts rather than to be afraid of them.  I truly believe that once both the psych and spiritual communities start working together under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, then humanity will make rapid strides toward well-being.  I’m not saying that nations should use (or abuse) the gifts of the Holy Spirit to prove God, but rather that God would glorify Himself through opening channels of Truth, so that His Good News can get through.  Gifts of discernment clear the air and the energy for the power of God to move forth powerfully.

Discernment is just one of the many spiritual gifts of God.  We do need all the gifts working in harmony to build up the body. (Eph 4:12)  And it is God Himself who gives the gifts and appoints who gets which gifts (as no one has all gifts, for if that were the case then we would not need to work together.)  It is my sense and understanding that there are times and places when God strategically apportions certain gifts to certain people at certain times in certain locations to achieve His directed purposes.  For instance, when Terror has seized an area, that place cannot heal and grow because they are held captive to the terror.  Once Terror is cast out, then the gifts of Healing, Wisdom, Hospitality, and others can come in.  There’s a rhythmic flow to the movement of the spiritual gifts and to how, where, when, and to whom they are imparted. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please be our Bread of Life and Living Water.  Please be our daily Manna as You pour out Your Holy Spirit into our lives and into every nook and cranny of our beings in body, mind, and spirit as we love all of You with all of us.  Holy Lamb, we live in such a cold and hard world, where coldness and hardness are revered and esteemed.  Unconsciously we manipulate ourselves, each other, and You.  Please forgive us.  We know not what we do.  We have sinned foremost against You.  We kneel before You and petition You for mercy.  Help us to grow into deeper maturity in You.  First we ask for the general gift of the common sense-type of discernment, and then we also ask for the fearless and wise gift of discernment of spirits.  We ask that You would pour out Your Holy Spirit to those ambassadors for You whom You have selected and have been training for this exact time on the timeline.  Please anoint them and commission them.  Please raise up Your community and put the discerners at the forefront.  May we not ‘throw them under the bus’ this time.  Please give them soft, bold, and pliable hearts, skilled at dancing through the energies of darkness and light, armed with Your love and protected by Your compassion as they keep their eyes on You.  Give them the armor of Your strength as they humble themselves before You.  Open Your spiritual highways of Truth, so that the Good News can get through to set us captives free.  Clear the air and the energy for Your own power, Lord, to move through the earth in a powerful way, as You glorify Yourself.  Please particularly bless Israel at this time, and thank You for giving her the gift of Discernment.  May we all learn from her.  Amen.

 

10 After Pentecost 05 August 2012

2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13a
11:26 When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him.

11:27 When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD,

12:1 and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.

12:2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds;

12:3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.

12:4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”

12:5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die;

12:6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

12:7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul;

12:8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.

12:9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

12:11 Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun.

12:12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

12:13a David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Psalm 51:1-12
51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

51:4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

51:5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

51:11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
16:2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

16:3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.

16:9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'”

16:10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

16:11 The LORD spoke to Moses and said,

16:12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'”

16:13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.

16:14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground.

16:15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.

Psalm 78:23-29
78:23 Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven;

78:24 he rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.

78:25 Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance.

78:26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;

78:27 he rained flesh upon them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas;

78:28 he let them fall within their camp, all around their dwellings.

78:29 And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.

Ephesians 4:1-16
4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

4:3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,

4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

4:7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

4:8 Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.”

4:9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?

4:10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)

4:11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,

4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

4:13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

4:14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

4:15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

John 6:24-35
6:24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

6:26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

6:27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”

6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

6:30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?

6:31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

6:32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.

6:33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

6:34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

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One Response to “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

  1. Dori August 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Awesome Kathryn. I love your gift of prayer. Thank you for your devotion and writings!

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