Monday, November 30, 2009

Whom do our monuments honor?

And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him...Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King's Valley. For he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom's Monument.
II Samuel 18: 17a-18 (emphasis mine)

Having just celebrated the one special day of the year that we set aside to express our gratitude for our blessings to God, I do realize that there are many who desire to make every day a day of thankfulness. Yet, I was struck this year by the irony of the contrast between Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. The one day that is isolated specifically to show appreciation is immediately followed by what is arguably the one day each year that brings out the height of our greediness. It is as though we say to God, "Thank you for all you've given to us and done for us, and now we want more!"

In my devotional time last week I read of the death of King David's son, Absalom. He was killed by those who fought in his father's army, thrown into a pit, and a large pile of stones, a monument if you will, was placed on his "grave." The very next verse in II Samuel 18 tells of the monument that Absalom erected to himself. I believe it is no accident the these two verses live side-by-side in God's word.

I also realize that there are many who have suffered loss this year, whether it be that of a dear loved one or employment and finances. I too, have felt the sting of loss in some areas of life this year. These challenges can often obscure the blessings in our lives and cause us to throw our hands up in resignation saying, "I'm going to take care of me because no one else will!" Isn't that what Absalom did when he erected his monument?

However, the stark reality is that, even with the losses and hardships we've endured this year, Americans and those in the western world are indeed blessed beyond measure. Anyone reading this has access to a computer and the internet. Add to that food, a place to live, freedom...I could go on and on. The bottom line is that life is all about where we chose to put our focus.

Ironically, everything that was purchased just three days ago, in time, will deteriorate and be discarded. But a life lived as a daily expression of gratitude will be a "monument" that will echo throughout eternity. The question we all should ask ourselves is, "Whom do I want to honor?"

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