Have you ever wanted something soooo bad that you would have, and maybe did, do anything to get it? How did it feel to finally attain that goal or get that coveted item? Was it all you dreamed it would be? Did it satisfy the longing you had in your heart for it? If you have lived any kind of a human life, these questions bring to mind something very specific for you. Some memory of that thing you just had to have. Maybe it was a car, maybe it was a baseball card. Or maybe it was job or a date with someone. It could be just about anything that catches our eye, telling our brain that we have to have "it" at any costs.
Another question for you to think about. What happened when you finally got it? What happened when the dream was finally realized? Did it work out like you had hoped it would? Did you find the fulfillment and joy that you thought you would? Maybe it did. But if you are anything like me, most of the things we obsess over and chase simply lose a lot of the luster once we get ahold of them.
One example from my own life was the 1989 Upper Deck Rookie card for Ken Griffey Jr. That was the card to own and I had to have it. My sister had if for a short time and was tricked into trading it away because the guy knew what she had and she didn't. (She was only 9. Who takes advantage of a 9 yr old girl?) Anyway, it was something that I had to have and I saved and asked for it for some time. Then I finally got it. IT WAS AMAZING! Here it was, in my hands, finally. No one could take it from me. If it was a ring, I would have probably worn it every day and called it "my precious."
I loved that card. I displayed it promenantly in my room. It was something that I looked at every day for several weeks. It was mine. But after awhile it was just a card that was worth some money in my baseball card collection. It then ended up being a card in a box somewhere. Then it became something I almost forgot that I even had. Then it was something that for a good ten years was in a box somewhere in my dad's shop (at least I thought it was) Until finally we were cleaning out some things and I came across it again.
It no longer had the value that it once had in a literal sense but it also did not have the value that I had given it all those years ago. In fact it hadn't had that value for quite some time.
It is interesting what we will do to get the things that we simply have to have. Because just as the marketing asks us "how could we live life without it." It may not be baseball cards anymore but as we get older it turns into that car or that job or our reputation or that boyfriend or girlfriend or that boat or cabin, and the list could go and on. For each of us it is something different but we are all chasing something aren't we? And in some cases we have done some pretty foolish and rebellious things to get the things we want. We have convinced ourselves that we need it no matter the cost.
In today's reading we see a similar story but with seemingly much more tragic results. Amnon didn't just want a baseball card, decides that he cannot live without having his sister as his own. He is so inflamed with lust for her that he has physically made himself ill. So he devises a plan to take her and get what he wants, no matter the cost. What is even more tragic about this story though is that after getting what he has longed for, he then despises it. He wants nothing to do with her and he kicks her out of the house.
This what happens when we let sin take over and consume us. James 1:14 says: "but each one is tempted when, by his own devil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." Sin seems to be so enticing at first. We convince ourselves that we simply can't live without it and that life is not worth living unless "x" happens. But once we receive it and lay hold of that which we are longing for we realize that it is was worthless and led only to sin which leads to death.
My baseball card may not have seemed like much but it was one of the first things that I felt that I absolutely needed, no matter what. It lead to other things that I needed, no matter what, and eventually allowed a since of entitlement, greed, pride, and covetousness to set into my heart to where I was completely corrupted by the time I was in high school in these areas. That card, in a sense, was the beginning of a road that I wish I had not gone down. I ended up learning the hard way that greed, jealousy and an "I want that and I want it now!" mentality led nowhere.
So today and really this weekend I would ask you to consider something. Consider opening up your heart to God and asking him to lay before you what is really driving your heart. Ask Him to lead you into areas that maybe you have avoided going because you were afraid that He would ask you to give them up. Ask yourself if you have been chasing "your carrot" at any cost (which really means that you have cost yourself, your family, your friends and/or your neighbors something) And finally I would ask you to ask the Lord to take it from you. I would ask you to lay down those sins and those things that you have convinced yourself that you have to have and begin to replace it with God and his Son Jesus Christ. If there is anything that you should chase with all you heart saying, "I have to have this at any cost", it is and forever will be Jesus Christ.
The Bible promises that if we seek Him we will find Him. Often we feel as though we are unsure where God is in our life. Are you SEEKING Him? Seeking involves active participation, a going after, a complete commitment to finding something. Sitting back in our lazy boy and asking God to show up sometime is not seeking. Showing up to church every once in awhile is not seeking. Are you seeking the Lord and creator of all things or are you looking when it seems to be convenient for you?
INTERESTING SIDEBAR ABOUT THIS PASSAGE:
As a side-note for those of you who find literary features in scripture to be interesting, this story is written in such a way as to form what is called a chaism. It is a literary feature we find often in scripture that builds a story to a central point and then works its way back out with the second set of points reflecting the first set. I will demonstrate it for you here:
A. Amnon's desire for Tamar (vv 1-2)
B. Amnon's predicament and Jonadab's advice (vv 3-7)
C. Tamar at Amnon's house (vv 8-10)
D. Amnon's advances and Tamar's pleading (vv 11-13)
E. Tamar's humiliation (v 14)
D'. Amnon's rejection of Tamar and her pleading (vv 15-16)
C'. Tamar's expulsion from Amnon's house (vv 17-18)
B'. Tamar's predicament and Absalon's advice (vv 19-20)
A'. Absolom's hatred of Amnon (vv 21-22)
Another point to note is that vs 1 and 22 likely form an inclusion since in both verses, all the major characters are listed in each. They form book ends on this story.