A Reputation For A Thousand Years:
“A reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.” -English Author, Ernest Bramah.
As I read the above quote, my mind thought back to King Og of Bashan, a contemporary of Moses. This is what the Bible says about him:
“Only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It is still in Rabbah of the Ammonites” (Deuteronomy 3:11).
This text seems to suggest that King Og was a powerful man, from a large family. As king, he had everything going for him, and yet, after thousands of years, what remains of his reputation is that he had an “iron bed.” That’s it. There is no great account of a meeting with God on Mount Sinai, or a return from the mountaintop carrying the time-honored Ten Commandments on two tablets (and this is 6,000 years before Steve Jobs realized the wonder of a tablet!).
I am not sure what good there is in sleeping on a big, iron bed, while a contemporary is parting the Red Sea and setting an entire nation free. It makes me wonder what history will one day say about us. Are we going to be remembered for living in a nice home, or having a big pension? Or, are we going to be remembered for what we did on behalf of God and others?
I see a lot of beautiful “iron beds” while driving daily to work. I see big, beautiful buildings, and I meet many who are holding on to some amazing endowments. In the end, these are nothing but modern equivalents of an iron bed. How sad is the fate if the people locked up in these trappings are giants who have now been reduced to doing some ordinary things.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until I am 75 and yet not ever truly to have lived.”
I take a look at the life of Jesus to find inspiration. By the current world standards for success, Jesus was a total failure.
Was he popular? No! In fact, after one of his teaching sessions to a crowd of followers, all except 12 deserted him.
Did he have political power? No! He was a political anticlimax. The government at first rejected him and then conspired to kill him.
Did he have lots of friends? No! His friends often hurt and abandoned him. One even betrayed him to death.
Did he have wealth? No! Neither a house, car, nor head office.
Did his colleagues respect him? No! His professional peers, the Pharisees, rejected his work.
Jesus had no “iron beds,” yet to this day, he is arguably the most known and revered man to have ever walked this earth. This is what Napoleon Bonaparte, the French General, had to say about him:
“Between Him and every person in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar and I have founded empires. But, on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; And at this hour, millions of men would die for Him.”
What I love about Jesus is that he continues to work in my life, from the inside out. The world likes to work from the outside in. The world tries to take people out of their poverty, while Jesus first takes poverty out of the people. The world likes to influence people by shaping their environment, but Jesus shapes people so that they can then go and influence their environment. The world looks to fixing surface level problems, while Jesus changes us at the heart.
The good news is that all of us, with Jesus’ help, can get out of our “iron beds” and do what he requires of us. We need to take a moment and slow down, reflect, and explore the better path that God has set for us. Taking this path may require a change of plans or lifestyle, but it is worth the work and sacrifice. So, I challenge you, when you are determined and ready, to take a breath and begin running the race of faith.
Michael Johnson, retired American sprinter who won four Olympic gold medals and eight world championship gold medals, said it well:
“That first peak is the best place to pause and look back, to see if you took the easiest route, to learn the lessons from the first climb. And it is the best place to examine the terrain ahead, to change your plans and goals, to take a deep breath and begin climbing again.”
I wish you the very best. Bon voyage.