Better than we found it…

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2 Chronicles 21:16–20 (NRSV): 16 The Lord aroused against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and of the Arabs who are near the Ethiopians. 17 They came up against Judah, invaded it, and carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house, along with his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son. 18 After all this the Lord struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. 19 In course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honor, like the fires made for his ancestors. 20 He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. He departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

Here we have the tragic end to King Jehoram‘s reign. If you read earlier in this chapter you will see he was a terrible king. He led the people poorly, encouraging them to embrace idolatry and all manner of evil. V.19 got my attention:

“In course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony.”

Ouch. Then there is v.20:

“He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. He departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.”

Our passage tells us the Philistines ravaged Judah and its people. I can only imagine the pain and loss from this kind of invasion. And it’s clear, from what the people did with Jeroham once he died, they blamed him for their great misfortune.

Jehoram left Judah in worse shape than when he started.

An important question for any leader is if you leave an organization in better shape than you found it. I’m in my 8th year serving as pastor of Rejoice Lutheran Church. I have no plans to leave, but one day I will. And when I do my deepest hope is that I will leave the church in a better place than when I found it.

Not that it was in bad shape when I arrived or anything. Pastor Phil Gileske was my predecessor and did a terrific job. But we are in a time of unprecedented change which is unfolding very quickly. I believe the next 2-3 years will be crucial to determining if Rejoice, or any other church/business/organization, will have a sustainable future.

Lord Jesus, you are the Shepherd and we are the sheep of your flock. By the Holy Spirit you have led the church through all kinds of change and adversity for 2,000 years and I have no doubt you will continue to do so. Lead us, guide us, show us the path you would have us follow. Help us to leave our places better than we found them. We pray this in your most holy name. Amen.

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