Monday, August 30, 2010


My husband and I are perfect for each other. He's a slow starter but a diligent finisher, while I start quick but struggle to finish. You can guess the positives and negatives of such a marriage. I think he over-thinks a project before he starts, and he thinks I put the cart before the horse – starting before I know how I'll finish. One of the best examples of my cart-horse problem is our dog history. Our first dog's name was "Hondo" – a puppy we picked up at a "Free Puppies" sign when Trina was just a toddler. It was at best a whim, at worst a disaster. We really had no idea how to care for a dog, nor did we have a particularly good plan for where we would house it in our backyard. Let me just say, it didn't end well. Fast forward five years. We're older and more responsible, and I think Trina needs a puppy for her birthday. This time, we decide it should be a house-dog. No outdoor provisions necessary, right? We bopped over to the Humane Society and got a puppy. Did we consider that Roy's job was unsettled? Or the fact that puppies are expensive, and we could barely feed ourselves? Two months later we moved to Ohio for seminary and couldn't find housing that allowed pets. Ugh. Again – cart before the horse. Fast forward five more years. Our girls begged for a dog, but I stood firm in my miserable memories. No way. No more gut-wrenching, heart-rending dog deals. This time my diligent, contemplative husband overruled my party-pooper attitude and started aligning the cart BEHIND the horse. Our family spent a month researching the best breeds for house-dogs. For another month we prayed about it. Soon after, we received a phone call from a friend, saying she knew of a dog (the exact breed we wanted) who needed a good home. We spent another month adding a dog run with a doggy door to our home. It was excruciating to wait for that stinking cart to line-up behind the proverbial horse! But when we finally picked up our sheltie, Princess, she was the greatest dog we could have imagined. Sometimes the order of events makes all the difference between success and failure – and in Shechem's case – the difference between life and death.

Gen. 34:1-4 – "Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, 'Get me this girl as my wife.'"
  • Shechem PUT HIS DESIRE BEFORE HONOR. Few people think of Shechem's love or tenderness toward Dinah. They think only of his violation of her. Since Shechem asked his father to get Dinah as his wife after he'd already taken her, the request lost some of its fervor. A desire fulfilled has no right to plead. Part of maintaining honor is maintaining desire.
Gen. 34:5-7 – ―When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home. Then Shechem's father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. Now Jacob's sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter—a thing that should not be done." (emphasis added)
  • These men PUT GOSSIP BEFORE THE HARD TRUTH. Poor Jacob heard about his daughter's defilement before Shechem or his father had the decency to tell him face-to-face. However, instead of sending someone to the fields to inform Dinah's brothers – to spare them from hearing tongues wag the same way he had – Jacob waited. Did he suspect they'd hear the shepherd's gossip? When a hard circumstance presents itself, it's far better to confront the matter than to allow gossip and assumption to sprout half-truths and rampant anger.
Gen. 34:8-10 – ―But Hamor said to them, "My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.'"
  • Hamor PUT HIS PROMISE BEFORE OTHERS' PERMISSION. Granted, he was king, but later we see he had to get approval from the elders at the gate for circumcision. Did he really have the authority to promise marriage, trade and property to Jacob and his family without the Shechemites' consent? How many times have I volunteered my husband or kids for a task or duty without clearing it with them first. Once is too many times in their opinions!
Gen. 34:11-12 – "Then Shechem said to Dinah's father and brothers, 'Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I'll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the girl as my wife.'"
  • Shechem TOOK POSSESSION BEFORE HE ASKED FOR OWNERSHIP. Asking for what he'd already taken was an insult to Jacob – especially when the stolen treasure was now defiled, as Jacob felt Dinah was. Shechem placed Jacob (and Dinah) in a no win situation – because no price can pay the debt of humiliation. It can be as simple as borrowing a shirt or cup of sugar without asking. The point is – respect dictates permission before we take.
Lord, I think in each of these "cart before the horse" cases, respect would have saved the day. Hamor's respect for Dinah, various individuals' respect after a grievous act, a king's respect for his subjects, an interloper's respect for a father's heart. Too often I get caught up in ME and MY MOMENT, and it blinds me to the responsibility I have to put someone else's horse before my cart. Teach me not only to do right things but also to do them in the right way and right order – in ways that bring You glory and represent You well on this earth.

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