Benaiah

lionHis is not one of the names that most Bible students have memorized. Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada the priest. He was born in a little town in the southern part of Judea called Kabzeel. He loyally served as one of King David’s “mighty men” during the rebellions of Absalom and Adonijah. He even assisted with Solomon’s coronation and ultimately became his commander-in-chief.

Second Samuel 23:20-21 introduces Benaiah to us with a resume of his bravery:

“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.  And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.”

He killed two of the greatest Moabite warriors. He killed an Egyptian with his own weapon. He struck down a lion in a pit on a snowy day.

Does one of those things strike you as a bit unusual?

On a snowy day it is a whole lot safer to stay inside. It’s warm and dry inside. The lion’s tracks in the snow would have been obvious. The lion was contained in a pit—this is a problem that could have reasonably and safely postponed until conditions improved, but none of these reasonable and true circumstances stopped Benaiah from doing what he needed to do.

Please don’t read me too literally here. Stay inside and off the roads when you need to stay off the roads. Be prudent! Here’s the point: we could learn a thing or two from a man like Benaiah. Sometimes, we just need to do the things that need to be done—no matter what.

Sometimes we are like the love-struck young man who wrote a letter to his girlfriend: “I miss you so much! I cannot wait to see you again! Nothing shall stop me from being reunited with you! My heart breaks until we are together again. I shall see you Friday, unless it is raining!”

Let’s be the sort of people who would take on a lion in a pit on a snowy day!

The Wonderful Carrot

Want to have better eyesight? Maybe you’ve heard the advice: eat more carrots. They’re rich in beta carotene. Beta carotene is useful for producing some other chemicals in the body which are known to be necessary for good eye health.

There’s a problem with this little fact, though. It isn’t quite true. A total lack of these chemicals in the womb and in early childhood can interfere with eye development, but eating a few extra carrots (or a whole bushel) as a teen or an adult will do nothing to make you see better—except maybe stave off cataracts.

Why does everybody seem to think this is true? Blame the British!

During the World War II, the British secretly developed a system you’ve heard of: “Airborne Interception Radar.” Thanks to this new technology, they knew when and where German Bombers were coming. The British wanted to hold on to this advantage as long as possible, so it was imperative that the Germans not find out about it, lest they destroy it or find a way to duplicate it. The British came up with a plan: when their defensive fighter pilots suddenly had much more success on their patrols because of radar, they announced to the news their scientific breakthrough that a diet full of carrots gave British pilots exceptional night vision and the edge over the Germans. Their campaign of deception worked so well that it became difficult to keep carrots in stock because the people were so eager to eat them to get this super-vision. You can read the whole story over at Snopes.

It has been over half a century since the British invented this story, but most of us have heard someone tell us to eat our carrots if we want to see better. We tend not to let little things like facts get in the way of a good story.

Here’s the lesson: just because you’ve heard something a thousand times doesn’t mean it is true. Goebbels, Nazi director of propaganda, said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Remember this warning when you forward an email or tell a story about a friend. “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” (Proverbs 26:20)

Fix it, Momma?

kintsugiI doubt this surprises you, but lots of things get broken in our house these days. Caleb has recently learned that he can bring some of those things to Leslie, along with a roll of tape, and say, “Fix it momma?” Usually, she can patch it back together. Now Leslie is really good with tape, but you can always tell—it’s not quite the same when it’s done.

The Japanese have a beautiful word: kintsukuroi. It literally means “golden repair.” When ancient Japanese pottery broke, the artisans didn’t try to find materials that would blend in with the original. Instead, they would use gold or silver lacquer to fill and seal the gaps, making the repaired object more beautiful and valuable than the original.

I like the philosophy behind it. Rather than attempting to cover up brokenness, it repairs it in an unashamed way that results in a better end result.

That sounds an awful lot like God, to me. He doesn’t ask us to scotch tape over our sin and pretend it never happened. “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Not only does God forgive us and restore us, I’d argue that he makes us better in the process. Who loves the most? Jesus said the one who had been forgiven most (see Luke 7:43-47). Paul said that when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). Even suffering has the potential to make us better people (Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2, and 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Aren’t you glad that we serve a God who both can fix it—and make it better?