A Good Solid Punch to the Face

Tenth Avenue North has sunk to new lows today.
While on the road to Pennsylvania,
driven by delirium and over-caffeination,
our band picked up a deck of cards and began playing poker.
The betting piece? Our faces.

The high hand gets to punch the lowest hand
in the face at 20% force.
Like I said, new lows, but helps pass the time in a pinch.
And you know, I can’t remember the last time I was punched in the face,
but it really wasn’t as bad I remembered.
More like a really strong cup of coffee.
Of course, we’re talking 20% so I’m sure it could be much worse.

But in between punches,
I’m reading through I Samuel and it’s got me pretty taken aback.
It’s amazing how the O.T. can feel like
a bandmate’s hand to the face sometimes.
Like in I Samuel 16 when it says, “and the Spirit of the Lord left Saul,
and an evil spirit of the Lord was sent to torment Him….”
or how about, I Samuel 2:25 where it talks about the sons of Eli,
“but they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was
the will of the Lord to put them to death.”

I’m sorry, what?
Yeah, the will of the Lord to put them to death.
Now that would be an interesting song title wouldn’t it?
“Here’s a new song I wrote in my quiet time everybody!
It’s called, ‘The will of the Lord to put you to death.”
Imagine me getting up and quoting that from stage.
I don’t know. Verses like these don’t come with easy explanations
so I don’t imagine they’d fly too well in our fast food nation.
It’s only when you have hours on the road that you even get the chance to
wrestle with questions like these.
But I bet that if we did try to bring them up,
a God of justice probably wouldn’t be safe enough for most
programming these days. And that’s a shame isn’t it?
Like the beavers said of Aslan
in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe….
“Safe? Of course not. Aslan isn’t safe, but He is good.”

Today, getting smacked in the face by bandmates and Scripture,
I’m reminded that this God we speak of is not necessarily a family friendly Father.
Above all, He is a just and loving Father, and reading through the Old Testament,
I’m realizing how those two things must go hand and hand.
Take away his justice, and how will we ever comprehend his love?
“This is how we know what love is, that Jesus Christ laid down his life,
and so we also ought to lay down our lives for one another…”
(I John 3:16)

How much more would I comprehend Jeff’s love for me
if after drawing the low hand,
and just before Jason’s man hands plow into my jawbone,
Jeff shoves me out of the way and takes the punch for me?
Now, unfortunately no such sacrifice was made when it was
my turn for blunt force trama, but we must understand that
that is what Christ has done for us. He has moved in between
us and the swinging fist of the Father’s punishment.
Now, that’s hard to come to terms with.
Probably even more difficult to discern than why in the world
we would choose to punch each other in the face of our own “free will,”
but nontheless, that is what the Bible teaches.
Christ stepped in between us and death, of his own free will,
and has given us life.
Hopefully, as I read through the rest of the Scriptures, I’ll keep that in mind,
and hopefully next time the band plays cards, I’ll follow His example.