Altar Call –
When You Don’t Know
What to Do
hangs in our bedroom a framed statement crocheted by my mother. It reads:
“Marriage – May there be such a oneness between you that when one weeps the
other will taste salt.”
have mulled over that message many times since Dean and I were married more
than 64 years ago. The idea of tasting the salt of each other’s tears is a
powerful reminder of what it means to be joined together in holy wedlock.
have indeed tasted the salt of her tears. It happens when two have become one
and the trials of life descend like a whirlwind. When Dean was crying because
of the excruciating pain of a herniated disc in her back, I found myself
kissing away her tears. It dawned on me that I was once again tasting salt, the
salt of her tears.
the hours when she was struggling with the pain in her back, I was also trying
to get ready to preach the following Sunday. I was grieving for Dean but also
pondering the meaning of the scripture I had chosen for my sermon. That has
been the pattern of my life – wading through the common struggles of life while
devising a sermon for the coming Sunday. It must be God’s way of helping us who
preach to see firsthand how the Gospel speaks to the real problems people face
every day. I know it has helped me preach with greater relevancy and
while Dean was enduring severe back pain, and unaware of all my thoughts, I was
pondering a dilemma faced by King Jehoshaphat hundreds of years ago. I was fearful
about Dean’s back and the King was gripped with fear for his people. I was
struck by how fear brought both the King and me to the same conclusion. The
King said in despair, “We don’t know what to do.”
did not know what to do either! I wanted to help my beloved wife but did not
know how to help her. But in those agonizing hours I did the same thing that
King Jehoshaphat did: I turned to God for help. And both the King and I found
the help we needed by turning to God.
is a great lesson in this story of a King who did not know what to do. Let me
briefly recap the story. Jehoshaphat was King of Israel for 25 years about 850
years before Christ. He had an army of a million soldiers. But on one occasion
several enemy nations banded together and made war on Israel. The king was told
that a vast army was on its way to fight them.
knew he was outmanned. So he turned to God and called on the nation of Judah to
turn to God. They gathered to pray for God’s help. The king stood and prayed
before the people, concluding his prayer by saying, “We don’t know what to do
but we are looking to you, our eyes are on you.”
the king was finished, a man named Jahaziel stood up.
He was moved by the Spirit to speak. He addressed the king and the crowd and
said, “Listen, don’t be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. The
battle is not yours but God’s. And he will be with you!”
Jahaziel spoke, the king and all the people bowed
with their faces to the ground and began to worship the Lord. Some of the
Levites began to praise the Lord with a very loud voice! The king was so
encouraged that he appointed a choir to begin singing and praising God. The
choir went out before the army singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love
endures forever.” The scripture says that as they began to sing and praise, the
Lord began to work and soon victory was theirs.
story offers us some great principles to remember when we don’t know what to
do: 1. To turn to God is to start praying! 2. To turn to God is to remember
that God cares! 3. To turn to God is to realize that He is with us and he is
able to move by his Spirit ordinary people to give us hope! Jehaziel
was such a man! 4. To turn to God in these days is to turn our eyes upon Jesus!
5. To turn to Jesus is to realize that because He is with us we have hope of victory
no matter what we are facing!
what is the point of this convoluting story of a wife’s back pain and an
Israelite King? The point is quite simple: The next time you don’t know what to
do, kiss your wife and turn to God. While you are tasting salt, He will help
you. + + +