Monday, April 05, 2010


One would never guess that this fine, upstanding college student would devise a plan to make a single pair of underwear last for four days. Well, "necessity is the mother of invention," and "desperate times call for desperate measures." So when this guy was in a Texas college, and his mother was 2000+ miles away in Indiana, and he came down with a bad case of the flu - he made it work. With only 2 pair of clean underwear left in his drawer, he improvised. Day 1 - right side out, tag in back. Day 2 - wrong side out, tag in back. Day 3 - right side out, tag in front. Day 4 - wrong side out, tag in front. Day 5 was rewarded with his last pair of clean drawers in the drawer, and the rotation started fresh: right side out, tag in back.... You get the picture.

Have you ever been desperate enough to wear dirty underwear? How about staring into an empty coffee pot each morning? What about looking at the last empty wrapper of your chocolate stash? These are all the quirky, amusing “Desperate Housewife” type of stressors, but some of us have experienced true desperation born of real-life struggles. An eviction notice. A pink slip. An empty pillow beside us. These are the morally-numbing, heart-stopping, edge of darkness events that can lead to despair – the precursor to desperation. Wouldn't it be nice if an empty coffee pot and dirty underwear were the closest we ever came to distress? But chances are we'll all be tested at some point in life. So what would you do if life got desperate? How would you insure your safety? Protect your children? Here's how Isaac and the original desperate housewife reacted…

Gen. 27:1-4 – “When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, 'My son.' 'Here I am,' he answered. Isaac said, 'I am now an old man and don't know the day of my death. Now then, get your weapons--your quiver and bow--and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.'” (emphasis added)
  • Isaac made no secret of his preferential love for Esau, though his firstborn sold his birthright to Jacob years earlier for a measly bowl of stew. Now believing death is near, Isaac makes a desperate attempt to control HIS family and God's plan, returning the firstborn's blessing to Esau. Desperation causes us to grasp for illusions of control, but the truth is – Isaac lived for another 20-40 years and didn't even need to make such a declaration at this time.
Gen. 27:5-10 – “Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, 'Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, “Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.” Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.'” (emphasis added)
  • Rebekah and Isaac had “drawn straws” for their children years ago. Rebekah must have wondered what would become of her and Jacob if Isaac died and Esau gained the inheritance. There were no welfare programs for an elderly woman if Esau cast her aside. And what if her elder son provided for her but killed Jacob for cheating him out of his birthright years ago for the bowl of stew? We can manufacture desperation by the “what if” scenarios we create in our minds. Faith is giving God the “what ifs.”
Gen. 27:11-13 – “Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, 'But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I'm a man with smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.' His mother said to him, 'My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.'”
  • Notice Jacob didn't object on moral grounds, just on possible tactical and logistical foul-ups. It seems from this reply that he was okay with the plan as long as they didn't get caught. Desperation weakens our moral sense of responsibility and heightens our sense of self-preservation. Anything that heightens SELF weakens the Spirit that is seeking to expand Christ in us.
Lord, I have found nothing good in desperation – unless it drives me to You. It drove Isaac to control, Rebekah to deception and Jacob to moral failure. I see fear at the root of all their choices, driving them toward foolish attempts to save themselves. It's so much easier to look at THEM and see the answers, Lord. Help me to take these lessons and apply them to the desperate situations in my life. Those issues when I rush in to take control. When it seems best for everyone that I speak in shades of gray rather than being completely honest (with myself and/or others). When I gloss over the niggling sense of wrong to achieve a greater good. May the only desperation I EVER feel be the desperation to be ever closer to You, Father.

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