What if David had not slept with Bathsheba? I have long been struck by the fact that the line of Christ follows directly from the sin that David committed with Bathsheba. As a reader, as a follower of God, what am I supposed to take from that very specific detail in the history of the faith I believe in?
I must again start by saying that I am not a Bible scholar, I have no revelation from God, and I am not trying to start a new theology. Nor am I saying that this will continue to be my thought as my life experience continues to teach me new things. This is simply the answer my mind has come to peace with in the moment where I currently sit.
Was David supposed to sleep with Bathsheba? If he had not, then the entire prophecy of Jesus would have not come to pass in the manner in which it did. Did God somehow course correct after David’s mistake and rearrange history because some other plan had been disrupted? If it was in God’s plan that the line of Christ would produce through the wreckage of David’s mistake, then was it not a sin that he slept with Bathsheba? I would answer ‘No’ to all of these questions.
I love the space that dialectical thinking creates for holding two opposing ideas to be true at the same time. I believe this story is a perfect picture of the place where man’s free will and God’s foreknowledge intersect. It was both wrong for David to sleep with Bathsheba and at the same time God knew David would do it. God did not stop David from his choice, but knew David would also repent from his sin and so he worked it into the plan of salvation long before any of it actually unfolded.
There are 1,000,000 questions one can ask about why God seems to use one situation and not another, or why God seems to intervene in some situations, but not in others. Those, to me, are complexities that not meant to be understood in this life. Areas where I am largely learning to have peace and faith in what I have come to trust in the character of God.
It is this holding of two opposing truths that helps me find peace with my mistakes of the past. I can both believe I should not have made them, but also understand that I could not possibly be who I am today if I had not made them. Their occurrence is woven into any future good (or bad) I do with the rest of my life. I can both grieve the pain, and the scars, and have gratitude for the lessons and growth God has grown from them.
This understanding helps me allow others more space to have their process. I do not feel the same sense of urgency to try and stop another’s questionable choices. If God is not stopping them, who am I to insist? I often point out cause and effect, and explain my experience with pain, loss, scars, remorse and the fact that we must ultimately live with any decision that we make. But then I must let someone else make their choice and I do my best to stand firm in my position walking alongside them as they ride the outcome of whatever wave they choose to follow.
It is difficult to hold fast and walk along side someone when you can see their life and choices spinning off into disaster. Everything inside me wants to either pull them out of the way or go running off where I do not have to watch the results. Sometimes I do have to walk away because the current challenges of my own path requires all of the strength that I have to keep going. There are times my own load is so heavy that I do not have the ability to take on any additional weight from someone else.
There are also times that I can prevent disaster with well timed yank that pulls someone out from the oncoming train headed for them. But those times seem rare as most decisions people make are less obvious in their outcomes. I look back at the many people who helped me through my years of addiction and recovery. I burned more bridges with people than I can count. So many kind and loving people tried to help me get on track and ultimately had to pull away for any number of reasons.
At the time, many of those people were likely discouraged and often the justified walking away with the thought that they had to cut me off for my own good. In most of those situations I still look back and wished those people could have weathered the journey with me, but I also understand that we each only have so much we can offer to any situation. But with most of those people there are things I look back on and can see the things that they said and did contributed to my eventual success in getting to the path of recovery.
For whatever reason, I believe God knew I needed exactly the path I have walked in order to find a place of surrender and peace. I still face the consequences of my mistakes and the scars of my choices, but I also treasure the place they have brought me. I am often reminded of the words of my all time favorite quote. “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression it must come completely undone, it’s shell cracks, the insides come out and everything changes. For someone who does not understand growth it would look like complete destruction.”
For whatever reason, I think God knows that it is our complete undoing that it often necessary to find surrender and peace with him. Many of us resist it and make the process particularly ugly, and some never give in and allow the pain of the change to occur. But I think the growth from seed to flourishing plant requires an undoing beneath the soil that only God understands. My role in most cases, is only to stay beside another and allow their process to occur, while I make sure mine stay on track. Different relationships allow me more and less bandwidth to stay with someone else while not throwing my own progress off course.
It is the steady companionship, not rescuing or abandoning, through the ups and downs of life that have helped me find the largely calm space I find myself in today. It is the tool that I have available to offer others as they navigate their own ups and downs that can look either very similar or very different from my own. My place is most often less about doing and more about being.