Empty-Handed

It hit the headlines last week. The divorce of the millenia. One of the wealthiest men on earth and his wife of 27 years are divorcing. Oh. It wasn’t a surprise to him when she filed. It had been in the works for some time. Apparently. She met with divorce attorneys two years ago. Perhaps it took that long to divide the wealth they had amassed over the years. But at some point, long before the d-word ever came up, they had put in motion the separation plan. The backup plan. The disaster recovery plan that apparently couples think they need. But then again, when you’re talking about that much money and that much property and that much wealth, maybe a plan should be in place. I don’t know. That won’t ever be my issue. And I hope and pray that the d-word never comes out of my mouth as a threat or a promise to the man I vowed for better, for worse, till death us do part.

But now they’re divorcing. They’ve been living separate lives for awhile. He told his golfing buddies that the marriage was loveless. What does that even mean? How did it become loveless? Doesn’t a marriage become loveless when love is forgotten? When acts of sacrifice and forgiveness, when the sharing of ideas and plans, when the thought of being one is pushed aside? Did they not put as much time into their marriage as they put into making money? Over time, the marriage became loveless.

If what I’m reading in the news is true, the marriage started out on rocky ground. He had the gall to ask his wife if he could have a weekend each year with a former girlfriend. Who does that? That must have started the marriage off on the wrong foot. Why a wife would have allowed that is beyond me. Perhaps she had her own secret requests. That hasn’t come out in the tabloids, but other news have come out about his secret desires. His other women. I guess it’s safe to say that money doesn’t buy happiness or faithfulness. Is it true that the more you have, the more you want?

Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

When we have conquered our financial and business goals, what other goals are left to conquer? Oh. He’s purchased the bulk of private farmland in this country. He has ownership in a couple of fake meat companies. He wants humans to stop eating beef. He’s willing to fork over money to try an experiment to block the sun. He wants us to become a cashless society. Meanwhile, I ask, will he continue eating beef while he is demanding that the rest of us remove it from our tables and diets? Will he vacation at the beach after he blocks the sun? Will he wish he had a wad of cash when his digital currency fails? Will we who have not amassed fortunes be used as pawns when we’re expected to do his bidding? And he calls only the marriage loveless, as he’s trying to control the rest of creation? Who does he think he is?


Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14


He is not God. Oh. He’ll face God one day, and he’ll give an account for all his actions. He’ll give an account for all those weekends with his mistress. He’ll give an account for trying to stop the sun that God created. He’ll give an account for all the money he’s made. Sure. He’s become a philanthropist. Because what else do you do with money that you don’t need. That you can’t spend on your own, because you already own so much. You already have the best of everything. And you vow not to leave your self-amassed fortune to your children. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but aren’t his children more important to him than other people’s children? Sure. His kids have had the best advantages. The best of everything. I’m sure they’ve attended the best schools. I hope for their sake that they can do well and live the lives they’re accustomed to. That sure would be a drop in status and comfort if they can’t, if that’s important to them.

What about the mother of his children? Apparently, she’s appalled at some of the people he associated with. What was it that turned her to the divorce lawyers? I don’t need to know. Personally, I don’t want to know. It’s none of my business. But when you’re already so well known for your billions and for your donations, I guess it’s only appropriate to be knows for your failures and flaws, too. Because they won’t stay hidden forever. We can try to hide our failures and flaws. Our mistakes. Our annual trysts. But there’s one who’s keeping record of all that. And he doesn’t miss anything. He. Doesn’t. Miss. Anything.

And we live our lives as if no one knows the things we do or say or think. We live as if we’re immune or exempt from God’s judgment. We can fly under the radar for awhile. Sometimes. At different times in our lives. But we never fly under God’s radar. Someday, we’ll be seen on judgment day. It’s an important day that people choose to ignore. Or maybe they don’t know that a judgment day is coming.

Perhaps this man who’s gained so much and given so much also has much to lose. If on his judgment day, the right choice on his part was never made. That act of humility and repentance for his sins. If that was never noted in his life and written in his record. If all his sins have not been wiped out and erased, then all the wealth you can afford. all the houses. all the women. all the inventions. all the plans and dreams and schemes. all the philanthropy. will be worthless. They won’t matter. Because you can’t take any of that with you to eternity. Those things won’t impress God or change his mind. In eternity, you will stand bare before God.

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. Ecclesiastes 5:15

So that’s what he has to look forward to, just as you and I do. It seems a little daunting. That day of reckoning. Because we all will be humbled as we are made to recall all of our good deeds and evil deeds. Good intentions and evil intentions. Good words and evil words. They will all be on display. Not for the entire world, but between us and our Maker.

So as I think about this man, some of his life that he thought was hidden is now being made public. Should he have been a little more cautious, a little more careful, a little more selfless? Some people say he’s selfless, because of his philanthropy. Philanthropy is one thing. Good morals is another. But he will stand before God. I’m not his judge. I don’t want to be his judge. My prayer for him is that he gets right with God and he bows to the Creator on his own will, before there’s no choice but to do so.

The Fade

It’s been in the news lately.  A couple of famous people have fallen off the sobriety wagon.  Oh.  They’re jumping back on, but now their private acts have been exposed.  The battle they’ve been fighting is still being fought but now out in the open.  Their worst private moments are made public.  They lost their way.  They had a tough year.  They gave in to the dark thoughts and desires within.

Oh.  It’s easy to point fingers and name names.  It’s easy to blame others’ problems on their lack of self-control or unknown weaknesses.  But I don’t know these people.  Except for what I read in the news.  I’ll never meet them.  I’ll never shake their hand.  I’ll never look them in the eye.  But what I do know is that the issues they’re facing can’t be faced alone.  They need others to help guide them and hold them accountable.  They need help.

They’ve had years of sobriety and great success.  They have been applauded and rewarded.  They have been the center of attention for a period of time.  But something happened.  Poor decisions.  Hard times.  Uncertainty.  Temptations.  Dark thoughts.  Who knows what caused the downfall.  They knew all the right things to do.  Go to meetings.  Be accountable.  Get help when things start to spin out of control.  But this time.  This time things were different.  The downward spiral started and before too long, they were too far gone to rescue themselves.  They no longer listened to the voice of reason within themselves or from those who wanted to help.  They got lost as they walked the path of sobriety.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11


I read a story in the Bible about a nation called Israel.  They had a history of ups and downs in their relationship with God.  Oh.  Life was good when they kept God on their side.  But when they started to spiral downward.  And they did.  Life went out of control.  Their enemies came calling.  No.  It wasn’t social calls.  It was war.  All-out war.  Then when life became so unbearable, they remembered God.  Oh.  Yes.  God can help us.  They remembered.  When they allowed God in their lives and routines, He always came through.  He helped them win those battles.

During the times of forgetting God, the temple priests preached feel-good religion.  The priests quit reading the Bible to the people when they visited the temple.  The Bible got lost in the shuffle and wasn’t read for years.  Oh the joy when they found the Book.  When Josiah became king, he commanded the priests to dust it off and read it again.  Oh.  The change was real.  The king and his people repented and enjoyed peace in their land and in their homes and hearts.  But when Josiah died, the people forgot God and went back to their old ways.

It makes me wonder.  What happens in our lives and homes when we don’t read the Bible?  When we put the Bible on the shelf to accumulate dust?  How long does it take for us to forget God’s commands and promises?  How long before we begin to ignore God’s calling and will for our lives?  How long before we no longer talk about God to our children and families?

What do we turn to during our times of trouble if we’re not turning to God and his Word?  What stumbling block is in our path if we don’t keep the path to God clear and uncluttered?  Who will hold us accountable when we start down the slippery slope?

How does it happen?  It’s not an overnight change.  It’s gradual.  A slow move to accepting.  Or thinking.  Or acting in ways you once thought repulsive.  A giving up.  A letting go of values.  Beliefs.  To accepting the viewpoint you once disapproved.  The gradual release of convictions.  Of letting inhibitions go.

How do we go back?  How do we return to our first love?  How do we get back on the road of redemption?

Oh God.  Forgive us for not faithfully reading and studying your Word.  The lifeline to you.  We’ve forgotten it and moved to thinking that being good is good enough.  But really.  The Good Book needs to be dusted off and placed in the center of our lives.

I See You

I know this guy.  Honestly.  I don’t know him well.  But I know enough.  I’ve never felt comfortable around him.  I can’t really pinpoint the reason, but it’s there.  Hiding behind the façade of friendliness.  I see inconsistencies in him.  I hear the words he says.  I see the look he gives.  I know what he does.  He’s fighting something.  He’s facing a storm within.

The fight looks familiar.  It feels like it fits.  I think the inconsistency I see in him is the one I’m trying to hide in myself.  The thing that bothers me is the flaw I see in him is what I don’t want others to see in me.  But I see it in him.  Is it because his flaws are similar to mine?  If he can’t hide his, then what are the chances mine are hidden?  Who is seeing my flaws?  Do they judge me as I’m judging him?

Oh.  It’s not my intention to judge him.  But if I’m honest.  Really honest.  I’m judging.  I want to call out his narrow-mindedness, while I shove mine down.  Hoping no one sees.

What inconsistencies do others see in me?  Who do I think I’m fooling?

I wouldn’t call him out publicly by name.  I wouldn’t do that.  But I watch.  Hoping he’ll change.  Hoping I’ll change.  So maybe the one who’s watching me sees change in me.  I’m trying.  Perhaps he’s trying, too.  I like to think he’s trying.

I don’t know his history.  I don’t know what caused his attitude and his faults.

Instead of focusing on his flaws, why don’t I look for his strengths? His gifts?  His talents?  They’re easy to spot.  If you know him.  If you see him in action.  And his career is pretty spectacular.  He works to make people’s lives better.  That has to be a good feeling.  Why not praise him for those things instead of tear him down for his imperfections?  Why is it so much easier to focus on those annoyances?


If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.   1 John 1:8-10


I look at my faults.  My flaws.  The inconsistencies in my life that I try to keep hidden.  Oh.  I know God sees them.  He knows them.  He lets me know he sees them.  And asks me to do something about it.  He wants me to change.

Someone recently told me one of the faults they see in me.  They didn’t call it a fault.  They just let me know that’s how they see me.  They believe it to be truth.  I was left trying to figure out why they think that of me.  It’s interesting, humbling and eye-opening to hear others describe you to your face.  Sometimes their critiques are correct.  Other times, their words make me stop and examine myself.

Maybe I’ve been denying the truth.  Maybe I’ve been so blind that I can’t see my own faults.

Reuben Welch once said that we really do need each other.  And we do.  We need to hold each other accountable.  We need to encourage each other.  We need to stand with each other.  We need to pray for each other.  We need to love each other.

The book of 1 John was written to a group of believers who weren’t getting along.  John was asking them to be better.  To be together.  Not against each other.  It takes work on both sides.  We can see each other’s flaws and still get along.