i was in awe yesterday of the amazing advertising blitz for weight watchers, home gyms and diet pills, knowing that this is probably their “busy season.” everyone knows that jan 2 is the WORST time to try to get a treadmill at ping or the local gym. the resolutions abound and now i’m stuck doing those despised lunges until someone gets done with their 2 miles.
even more so, the products that offer the quick and easy fix catch my eye. we humans are silly, really. time and time again we learn that there’s no quick and easy fix that gives lasting and fulfilling results. but yet we try.
i was reading this morning in the story of 1 Samuel, the rise of king saul (israel’s first attempt at a king). there’s lots of background to the story that i’m sure i’m not aware, but the speech by samuel in chap 12 (13-15) caught my attention:
“So here’s the king you wanted, the king you asked for. God has let you have your own way, given you a king. If you fear God, worship and obey him, and don’t rebel against what he tells you. If both you and your king follow God, no problem. God will be sure to save you. but if you don’t obey him and rebel against what he tells you, king or no king, you will fare no better than your fathers.”
it might come off sounding like God is only for you if you do what He wants (“dance monkey!”), but really that’s not the heart of the matter that i think sam is trying to get at. i think the israelites wanted a quick fix and since all the other local tribes had kings, they wanted one too (i’d love to know other background on their desire for a king… i’ve read the chapter, but i have a feeling there’s more under the surface).
obedience is hard. doing the right thing can be hard. things like patience and peace and love for enemies don’t just naturally flow without some help. so i think the israelites are not unlike my dieting, ping-hogging friends after the new year: wanting somewhat immediate results in areas that require, as Nietzsche (i think? according to my googling i am correct) puts, a long obedience in the same direction. in other words, sure you can have a king, but if you don’t do the work of living as God has called you, you’re not going to see any different results.
i just recently posted some thoughts on pre-marriage counseling (or the lack thereof) and recieved some validating feedback, which made me feel on to something. then i got a comment from a woman who i deeply respect and has been married for more years than myself and all other commenters combined. she said (i’m paraphrasing) that it’s living a life of faith in God that keeps your marriage healthy, not a bunch of questions asked before you say i do.
i can agree with her. i’ll stand by my appeal for better pre-marriage counseling, and even marriage counseling that happens before you get to the marriage counseling you do right before you give up. i do believe that if marriage is an institution of God, then the people of God should be doing a lot more to protect and preserve it. we get all bent out of shape about homosexual marriage potentially “ruining” the image of marriage as God created… personally i think all the unhappy and discarded marriages of straight people wrecks a bit more havoc in that area… *end of soapbox*.
but back to original thoughts. i do have to agree that if we treat pre-marital counseling like we do weight watchers, that by answering a few simple questions we’ll be guaranteed a happy marriage without the work and energy of living a life of love and faith, then we’ll be sorely disappointed. however, i stand by my original thoughts in saying that we should be offering tools to help things start – and stay – on the right foot. but no tool, no pill, no king, will ever replace the need to live each day in the pattern of goodness that God has set before us.