Tuesday, August 21, 2007

After Bathsheba 4.1: David Changes his Motivation

"Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba”(2 Samuel 12:24)

This verse is where the story begins to take a turn for the positive.

Regaining, refreshing and renewing intimacy with God will bring us to a place where the way we treat other people is deeply affected by the values of God's Kingdom and - ultimately - by selfless love. Our motivation is changed, as was King Davo's...

I find it very moving that this "union" (how's that for a Ned Flandersism?) - this "union" which was initially adulterous lustful and selfish now becomes compassionate and comforting.

David’s second recorded encounter with Bathsheba began with the purpose of consoling her: “Then David comforted”. He desired to ease her grief, not his own. This time rather than use Bathsheba’s body to ease his boredom, he used his body to relieve her sense of loneliness and loss. David’s motivation had changed.

When we speak of motivation, we often mean two different things, using the same word for both. One is inner motivation, or the reasons why we do things. The other is the driving force that makes us feel like doing something.If you and I are ever to have that passion for God burning in our belly again and a sense of His presence, something critical must change at our core. It must change at both these levels.

Something must change in the way we do things and it must change in the reasons why we do them.

I might focus today on the the driving force aspect of motivation. It's interesting to me (probably to no one else though!) that King Davo seems to have lost his drive, his energy, his motivation at this point in his life. We can see that at the beginning of 2 Sam 11. He's taking afternoon naps and wandering around rooftops instead of out with his troops battling his nation's enemies. Maybe I'm reading into the text, but it seems to me that David had lost the urge to do "kingly" stuff, and his idleness lead to other less noble motivators kicking in.

Energy, drive, motivating impulses...

“How do I change?” is a question at the core of all rehabilitation, repentance and refocussing. In his own refocussing, David had made a good start by admitting his problem and accepting his responsibility. Often we stay at that point, not taking (or even discerning) the next step. And the reason we stand still is usually that we are waiting for something else to change.

We wait for the urge to pray to arise within us before praying.

We don’t show affection to our spouse because we want to feel that affection first.

We don’t give up drinking to excess because we still feel attracted to it.

We don’t start becoming vulnerable because we don’t feel safe enough yet.

We don’t offer worship to God because we don’t yet have the sense of excitement to drive it.

Unfortunately, the driving-force side of motivation doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t appear out of thin air like an angelic visitation.

The author Louis L’Amour, writing about the motivation to write, said

“The water doesn’t flow until the tap is turned on.”

Motivation comes from action rather than coming before action.

How many times has something like the following happened to you?

You say, “I don’t feel like going to the party but I guess I’d better show my face”. Surprisingly after an hour of socialising you find yourself genuinely enjoying it!

You may have had similar experiences regarding chores, going to work, starting an exercise routine or even getting out of bed in the morning.

Many (many!) years ago I was counselling a young man (whom I’ll call Jason) who had come to me wanting to kick a drug habit. Jason was a pleasant person but not well-presented and certainly lacking in energy. One of the things that emerged from our discussion was the fact that he literally did nothing with his time.

He had no job to get up for and no goals to work toward. He hadn’t even registered for unemployment benefits. Going to bed shortly before dawn, he woke up at 4:00 in the afternoon except on the days he was seeing me.

As I prayed with him, it occurred to me that there was a connection between his difficulties in becoming motivated to change anything in his lifestyle and the actual lack of attempting activity. Feeling this may have been one of those mysterious "words from the Lord", I made a suggestion that he try a new routine for a week. Each day he was to get up at a time which would be normal for someone working office hours. He was to shower and dress as if he were going to work and then go straight to the employment agency or buy a newspaper to search the job ads. Jason was willing to give this a try and chose to change his wake up time to 7 am, a massive change in routine!

Jason missed his next appointment with me and so it was 2 weeks before I saw him again. During that time with only a couple of exceptions he had got up at the new time and had undertaken the kinds of simple activity we had brainstormed. He hadn’t found a job but something else - something remarkable - had happened to him.

When Jason came to the church office window, my wife answered the bell – and literally didn’t recognise him! His posture, expression and presentation had changed dramatically. After he told me how he had changed his routine, I asked him how he felt.

Great!” he said with real enthusiasm (and some surprise).

He went on to tell me that he was more motivated to get things done and that even his relationships were improving because his outlook and moods had changed. The tap had been turned and clean water had flowed...

When I was a teenager, the dynamo - turned by the wheel of my bicycle - would generate power for my headlight. If I stopped my bike, the light would quickly fade as the power source failed. Doing leads to feeling. Action generates enthusiasm. The water doesn't flow until the tap is turned on.

In the story, the child of David and Bathsheba was struck ill. The king's response was to go without food, to lie all night on the "bare ground". He "begged God to spare the child" (12:16). And when the child died, David's heart had been melted, had been turned once more to the needs of other people, had found its urge to love again. "Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba."

More on this soon...


If this is the first time you've read one of this series of posts, please click on the label at the end of the post (Relighting the Fire) to read all entires. Unfortunately, they're in reverse order, so like many blogs, you'll have to scroll to the bottom to find the start of the the thread...

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