Confessions of a Zealot (Part 2) 

zeal2In Part 1 I confessed two things – that I’m a zealot and that many times over the years I’ve mismanaged my zeal. We’re looking at the story in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15 about the dire consequence of David’s zeal in transporting the Ark of the Covenant on a new oxen-drawn cart.

Back to my own confession . . .

Though, as far as I know, no one has actually died because of any of my rashly expressed zeal, I have to admit that some people have suffered for it, my own family in particular. While I don’t regret my zealotry in principle, I do regret many of the unwise choices I made. I can say honestly that there were many times that I didn’t manage my passion for God and for my family at the same time. What I did and didn’t do as a husband and father, I did in good – yet ill-informed – conscience, but it cost me my family. I lost my marriage, no doubt, partly due to overlooking many of my wife’s emotional needs over the years. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I was so invested in doing what I thought the Lord required of me that I wasn’t as sensitive to her as I should’ve been.

As for my kids, though I spent a lot of time with them in their growing up years, I missed a lot of opportunities to engage with them on a deeper level. As a result, we’re all paying the price for those choices I made over the years, and though I know God forgives me, I deeply regret it. I should’ve used more wisdom and paid more attention to the cues. I did my best, but in a lot of ways, my best wasn’t good enough. If parenting do-overs existed (Is that what grand-parenting is?) I’d do things differently.

We can’t love Jesus too much or be too passionate for his kingdom, but our abandoned love for him should be tempered by the wisdom of the Spirit and sensitivity to the people around us. I can’t go back and do it over again. All I can do is receive God’s forgiveness and try to manage today’s passion for God in a wiser way. Anne Lamott says, “Grace bats last.” I’m counting on it!

As he watched the coroner’s van drive off into the distance (maybe they even used the decommissioned cart!) David became paralyzed by fear and anger. Allow me some poetic license on his rant: What do you want from me, Lord?! I do what you told me to do and you kill a guy? I quit! I’m not carting this thing around anymore. Someone else can take charge of this Ark of yours. That guy can keep it for all I care!

Sounds a lot like some of the childish tantrums I’ve thrown over the years. I’ve directed a number of tirades at God for letting bad stuff happen to me when all I was trying to do was serve him with all my heart. I’ve thrown myself down in petulant passive-aggression, hoping that he’d see me and feel bad about the way he was treating me. There have been times when I’ve been paralyzed by disillusionment as though standing in a minefield where taking a step in any direction and it all blows up! Inn those times it seems safer to do nothing; at least then I can’t do anything wrong!

–           –           –           –

I don’t believe that time heals all wounds, nevertheless, healing does usually take time. It takes time to recognize our need for it and to take the Spirit’s prescription.

It took three months for David’s tantrum to subside and for him to come to terms with what he’d done wrong. Though he couldn’t change the past, he could pick himself up and proceed more wisely the next time. His passion returned and he brought the Ark to its proper place in the proper way. After he came to terms with his mistake he repented and got back up on the horse.

I think you’ll agree that we’re too easily paralyzed by regret and shame. It’s no secret that some of Satan’s favorite paralyzers are guilt, self-pity, and fear of failure. Plagued with failure phobia many of us have forgotten that a failure is not someone who falls down but someone who stays down.

So many have been scared away from a fully devoted life in Jesus by their failures and the failures of reckless fanatics. “Religious fanaticism,” I’ve heard it said, “is the biggest threat to the modern world. I’m never going to be one of those people who scare people away from true religion. I just want to be a good moral believer in God, but don’t expect me to go out on a limb.”

When you read the next scene, I think you’ll find that it’s pretty clear that David didn’t fall prey to that deception. He realized that it wasn’t the fault of his zeal, but of his unwise management of it that created the mess he was in. Though passion got him into trouble he wasn’t willing to give up his passion.

In Part 3 we’ll look at David’s next move. Stay with me, this is where it gets good…

Are you a zealot? Any suggestions on how to manage it wisely?

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