Dhoni dulayee (in Indian laundry parlance it means hitting the soaked clothing against the pavement to force all the dirt and grime out) is on! India is out of the World cup T20 and the poor Indian skipper is being pounded by one and all. Only recently heralded as Master-tactician, after leading his team to victory in IPL-III, the Indian captain is under siege. Men who had lavished praise on the Indian captain post IPL-III are now baying for his blood! News channels are busy conducting post-mortems of India's debacle, with Dhoni's strategies or lack of them being lampooned by Indian cricketing greats of yore. Wouldn't it be better, if we honestly take it on our chin, that our batsmen couldn't cope with chin music (read rising balls) and get on with it? At this stage, it would be far better to find ways to equip our batsmen with skills to face the same challenge with better acumen in future than brood over the failures.
Times really have not changed, have they? In the Biblical realm also people have been consistent in their inconsistency while dealing with their leaders. A good many times, great motivators have been made heroes to be only reduced to zero status the very next moment. Sad to say, people have been vacillating in their attitude towards the Almighty also (yes, He too has not been spared). I would like to focus on 4 incidents in the Scriptures, which bring to the fore extreme mood swings of the public, contrasted with eternal unchanging ways of the Creator (Heb.13:8), who consistently and lovingly bears our inconsistencies.
Water To Vapour
In Exodus we see the Israelites at their eccentric best over the subject of water! At the beginning of the chapter, we see them going gaga over their Redeemer God drowning the wicked Pharaoh and his army/cavalry in the Red Sea waters. However, even before some water had flown under the 'Nile bridge' as it were, we see them turning bitter (towards the end of that very chapter) over the issue of, yes, some bitter water this time (Exo.15:22-24). Only some time back their praises for their Saviour were overflowing like river water during monsoon, only to evaporate very soon and worse, turn into a bitter complaint. Now what about the unchanging God, did He make a big fuss over the fussy ways of His people? No! Rather, He immediately provided sweet water to them (v.25). Yes, in this fallen world (Rom.8:22-23), no one is exempt from problems, but that doesn't grant us licence to turn bitter and use intemperate language (Exo.14:11), the kind the people of Israel used when confronted with difficulties. Viewed positively, problems are an opportunity for us to lean upon Him, who would either immediately get us out of our messy situations (Psa.50:15) or would give us His grace to grin and bear them for His glory (2Cor.12:8-12)!
A Shepherd To A Scapegoat
David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him (1Sam.30:6). David and his faithful(?) men, after an incomplete military expedition, had just arrived home (Ziklag, where David was in hiding, as King Saul was hunting for his life) only to find that their perpetual enemies, the Amalekites, in their absence had raided their town, looted their property and carried off their wives and children. This experience was a shock for David, with a capital S. Now his problems were being compounded as his men, whom he had so faithfully led as a good shepherd for some years now, were making him a scapegoat for all this mess.
I reiterate, times have not changed as fickle human mentality has not changed. "This daughter-in-law of ours has brought ill-fortune to our family"-so goes the refrain in some nominal Christian circles, if a tragedy were to befall a family, despite no fault of that innocent daughter-in-law. How silly!
To complete the David story. This exemplary leader of men did in this moment of crisis, what great men of faith had always done-depended on the Lord to solve their knotty problems. "But David found strength in the Lord his God (v.6). Once He depended on the Lord, things started falling into place, one by one, so much so that towards the end of that same chapter we find David and his men rescuing their families from the kidnappers. Pastor, are you sick and tired of some of your fickle flock? Draw patience from our patient God (Heb.12:3-4) like David did!
Oblation To Obituary
There they were, the people of Lystra, all oblation one moment vis-à-vis the Apostle Paul (along with his missionary mate Barnabas) following a miracle and, can you believe it (!), hell bent on writing his obituary, the very next moment (Acts 14:8-20), courtesy, the insidious insinuation of some Jews. Even a chameleon may not have changed its colours so fast. But did Paul, propelled as he was by unchanging divine love, change his commitment to the spiritual welfare of this touchy town? No! Why, he selflessly visited Lystra not once, but twice (Acts 14:21;16:1), and selected the most trusted aide of his, Timothy, from that very town!
Hosanna 'Howls' To Crucify Cries
Only a week before His crucifixion, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey's colt, loud hosannas (hosanna in Greek is a cry of adoration) reverberated in the air in expectation of deliverance from the Roman rule. The Jews looked upon Jesus as their freedom-fighter, the one who would wield a sword and use His miraculous powers to liberate them from the Roman tyranny. But their hopes were dashed as Jesus, without as much as lifting even a little finger against the Romans, focussed more on His spiritual mission of liberating people from the tyranny of a much more dangerous rule, sin. More than ruling from a throne in Jerusalem, Jesus' first coming was all about ruling in the hearts of men! No wonder, with their expectations belied, when Jesus' enemies (jealous, insecure religious hierarchy of that time) sought public support for His crucifixion before Pontius Pilate, the very same people who yelled, "Hosanna" now shouted, "Crucify Him" (Matt. 27:11-23). Talk of U-turns or worse!
What was Jesus' response to the wavy ways of His fellow Jews, who in a way represented mankind in general? Accepting God's sovereign plan to be a 'Lamb slain for this world' (1Pet.1:19-20), He went to the cross, knowing full well that the people He was dying for, would still be fickle in their devotion for Him (which includes you and me!). To be honest, does not our love for Him blow hot and cold at various times? Yes, we are all guilty of vacillating in our devotion; yet amazingly He remains unchanged in His love for us!
As one Biblical scholar put it creatively and insightfully, "If you are not feeling close to God, guess who moved!" In this world, where the only permanent thing is change, let us all rejoice that we have an unchanging God (Heb.13:8)! More than worshipping God for the bountiful blessings He pours into our lives, let us learn to worship for His unique attributes. Have we ever praised Him for His constant, unchanging nature? Hallelujah!