A Brave Example

Eleazar a Brave Example.docx

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

I don’t need to compare to my own puny, cushy lifestyle in order to elevate the history of Eleazar the scribe. His story is powerful enough, and one that—despite my own Dory-like memory—I have found myself recalling time and time again as I consider what it looks like to be brave.

To be brave for God and others.

People knew who this 90-year-old scribe and teacher was. And when a new Syrian ruler came around and demanded that everyone symbolically curse their Jewish faith by eating pig meat, Eleazar bravely walked up to the rack and spit the meat on the ground in front of everyone. Shaking their heads, those men who were commanded to uphold this new law kindly took the old man aside and, because they knew and cared for him, told him that they would give him fake meat and he could simply pretend.

What a temptation. I can just imagine the rationalizations going through my mind: I am important to the people. I won’t really be breaking the law. I must continue my vital work of serving this lost and needy group. Who knows how long this new king will last anyways? With the way things go, he’ll be killed in the next year and we’ll have a whole new set of laws. And if not, perhaps I’ll start a revolt. But they need me alive to do it.

And yet…

Eleazar says, “Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life, for many of the young might suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year had gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they would be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. Even if for the present I would avoid the punishments of mortals, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” (See 2 Maccabees 6:18-31)

And he did die. And it was a painful, terrible flogging.

But the aftermath? Well, his sacrifice did in fact leave a noble example to others who suffered, and not too long after, a revolt was led against Antiochus Epiphanes where thousands were released from the hold of this cruel king.

What a powerful sacrifice for the honor of God and love of others… akin, it seems, to one innocent man who let himself be tortured and nailed to a wooden beam for us.

“There is no greater love than this: to lay down your life for your friends.”

Said Jesus. Before he laid down his life. John 15:13

Moving Waters

creekA couple of days ago I went on a walk— more specifically, I dashed out the door for a 15-minute escape from screaming babies during dinner time. As I abandoned my husband to the little rulers (I regret nothing) and strolled along the walking path behind my home I watched the fog hovering over the hill to my left, felt the mist on my face, and absentmindedly listened to the creek that trailed beside me.

As I moved along, doing nothing and (if you’re a mom you understand) utterly enjoying doing nothing, I suddenly stopped, realizing the creek that had been gurgling so pleasantly beside me suddenly went silent. Instinctively I turned toward it, almost as though I expected the creek to have disappeared. But, of course, there it was. The rocks that had caused little waterfalls and light splashes several feet before were just not there, leaving the waters free to pool itself into a flat glass of quiet. A few feet ahead were rocks and it would again make that lovely babbling brook noise, but for now it was silent.

And just as God so often gave the prophets messages through the menial, day-to-day images of life, I felt the symbolism forming:

Is this not like the way God is working now?

Sometimes He boldly shows me miracles, shouts in devotion times, speaks through people’s messages and encouragements. At points my life is thrilling and big things are happening and I start to think it will never end. But then come seasons of silence, where it’s tempting to wonder if God is doing anything with my life and my work at all.

Then I am reminded, even in silence God is moving waters.

Quietly the stream creeps toward the next set of rocks, the next exciting and thrilling moment. But all the time God is faithfully there and the work is still sufficient.

There is beauty in silence. There is life, and hope, and great and wonderful reminders from God that reach us when we turn off our phones, step away from our computers, get away from the haziness of distraction and let nothing– and then something– fill us.

Frederick Buechner states, “Out of the silence let the only real news come, which is sad news [our sin and brokenness] before it is glad news [God’s forgiveness] and that is fairy tale last of all. The preacher is not brave enough to be literally silent for long, and since it is his calling to speak the truth with love, even if he were brave enough, he would not be silent for long because we are none of us very good at silence. It says too much.” (Telling the Truth)

“Be silent and know that I am God, says the Lord.” (Psalm 46:10)


Einsteinmas Day


capitol hill christmas treeWhat’s wrong with this picture?

A postman drives his little white truck down the country road. A teenage girl in her 1992 red mustang laughs to herself as she reads the text from her best friend. Her glossy pink nails begin tapping a reply, just as she hears the squeals of tires grinding on pavement. She drops her phone as she swerves the wheel and cries, “Abraham Lincoln!”

A CIA agent grips the chair as he stands before the suited men. Flurries fly by outside the window. “There’s no time,” he says. “He demands the money by 12:01 Einsteinmas Day.”

An archaeologist kicks the shovel deeper into the ground as dust fills the air. She coughs and lifts the scarf to her nose. Sweat rolls off her nose and splatters to the ground. Her breath reeks of coffee; after all, she hasn’t slept in two days. But she’s so close she can feel it. Just moments, mere moments from an artifact that has been trying to be found since 206 BC—Before Candy.

Jesus has rocked the world. No matter who we are, and what we believe, His name and message has infiltrated our existence. Whether I’m reading something from 600 BC (Before Christ), opening presents beneath the tree of America’s favorite holiday, or hearing someone swear by His name, we cannot escape Jesus.

Recently, as I was reading through some books for a class I’m preparing, I was stopped by these words:

This Galilean, who in his lifetime spoke to fewer people than would fill just one of the many stadia Graham has filled, changed the world more than any other person. He introduced a new force field into history, and now holds the allegiance of a third of all people on earth.1

A third.

If I were God (bad idea—let that be clear), my plan would be to circuit Jesus around the world. Maybe I’d make Him into clones so there were thousands of Him. Or I’d stop time and give hundreds of years to chit chat to every person He sees. But what happened instead? Jesus toured around a few miniscule miles in his teeny tiny dot area of Earth for a ministry span of a measly three years. Then, poof! He’s gone and now a projected 2.92 billion people (31.4%) are estimated to follow Jesus. Really? From a plan like that? As a Christian myself, it makes me think, “If God changes the world with that plan, what might He also be wanting to do in my life? With someone so insignificant as me?”

Or yours?

Who knows, with a willing heart He may do immeasurably more than we could ever ask for or imagine.


Daily Meditation: Ephesians 3

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1



  1. Check it out! Phillip Yancey. The Jesus I Never Knew. ISBN: 0-310-38570-9