The ideas represented below are property of Beth Moore and were first delivered at a conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan in Spring. I will do my best to differentiate her ideas from mine.
One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’
“But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’
“But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’
“But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’
“The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’
This story, known as Jotham’s fable, is the oldest tale written in all of history…and it’s been simmering in me for months now. Beth Moore used this as the set-up for some really powerful teaching at the Living Proof Live back in spring. She presented the idea that man was created with a longing to rule, but that we also have a desire to BE ruled. Now, you can argue whether you think she’s right or not, but I think she’s dead on.
She broke down this story to say that we either let God rule us, or one of the things in the story. For some of us, we are like those who want to bow to the oil, which stands for religious life. Now, she nor I mean that in the way that our culture means. We both understand the thought to mean those that bow to “church” before we bow to God. Church life — BIBLICAL COMMUNITY — is good. But just going to church is not good. In my history, I have discovered that you can smell a person who is ruled by religiosity a mile away. It’s a person who is willing to go to church, but isn’t willing to have their heart probed by God or by other people. They’re judgmental and cold. They’re pharisees, for short, and Jesus wasn’t too pleased with them. He loved them, but his constant message to them was “What are you doing!?!?!? STOP IT! It’s hurting you, and it’s hurting others.”
The second group of us bow to the fig tree: indulgence. Because the fig was code for ancient candy, Beth demonstrated how those of us who bow to indulgence consciously or unconsciously say “Just for this moment, make me forget.” If it comes to God pressing in, or having an out to escape the pain or the probbing, they’ll run.
The third group, those who bow to the grape vine, are asking to be ruled by intoxication. They’re constant cheer is: “make me feel different.” Just give me that food, that money, that drink, that drug and make my thoughts about my self and my current circumstances different. Our media machine drives off of people who are tangled up in this mode of thinking. But there is a conscious choice, too.
The last group is the group that bows to the buckthorn. The thorn is the mark of affliction on the earth. It’s those people who are ruled by their circumstances. We all know these people. They’re the Eeyore’s of our society. They always have something that got them down, with no hope of it changing. You try to cheer them up, but they almost get mad at you for doing so. Somehow, they believe that living with problems is better than getting over the problems, because at least they feel they can control the problems they have.
Now I’m not presenting this to get anybody down or to judge anybody. I’ve bowed to religious life. I’ve bowed to the buckthorn. And I think I’m still battling bowing to indulgence. But I think the woman had a point. If we’re bowing to these things, we’re missing out.
She reminded us that God promised in 1 Samuel 12:12 that “The Lord GOD was YOUR king.” He was your king before any of these other things came into our lives. He’s promised us that if we live under Him, that we’ll never meet a foe we can’t conquer.The question then becomes “Do we want to conquer it?”
For me, the past couple of months has been about stopping the bowing to anything other than God. It’s been about identifying when I bow…because a lot of times I do it unconsciously. It’s been about stopping this mad behavior of screeming “RULE ME!!!” every time I get frustrated or angry or overwhelmed. It’s about realizing that I don’t need to bow to anything else for security or love because I already am secure and I am loved.
I hope her ideas will help you as much as they are me. We’re all in process.