Monday, May 2, 2011

Rescue from Lo Debar: The Story of Mephibosheth

By Kelly Langston

Captured in 2 Samuel is a story that speaks of God’s boundless, restorative love for individuals living with a disability. It’s a message that reminds us that we are never forgotten by God:

He was a child of extraordinary promise and unlimited potential. Highly favored, he was a boy born into wealth and unparalleled privilege. The grandchild of a king, his father Jonathan lifted him high in royal hands and gave him a warrior’s name, “Meribbaal,” meaning “He who resists the idol Baal.”

In one day, a life of promise turned into a life of disability and shattered dreams. It happened in the boy’s fifth year. That day, as recounted in 1 Chronicles 10, King Saul and his sons battled the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. One by one Saul’s sons fell—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua— each struck down by the Philistine army. When enemy archers spotted King Saul in retreat, they sent arrows arcing into the sky, fatally wounding the king. Saul’s rule had ended and David would be the new king.

The news traveled quickly from the valley of Jezreel to the place where the boy stayed under the protection of a caregiver. People shouted from one to another, “King Saul is dead! His sons are dead!”

The boy’s caregiver trembled in fear at the sound of the words, knowing the boy was in danger. With King David on the throne, members of Saul’s family would surely be put to death— the customary way to prevent rebellion. Quickly, she snatched the child into her arms and ran outside. They needed to find refuge— a place of safety and obscurity– and there was little time!

She didn’t see the stone that caught her foot as she ran. All she saw was the boy flying out of her arms and into the dusty air, strangely suspended for what seemed like an eternity before falling to the ground, rolling and tumbling to a stop. There is no time to take care of this now! She yanked herself up and stumbled to him, grasping him in her arms again. The boy’s legs were strangely bent.

They fled to a forgotten town with an ugly name: “Lo Debar,” or “a place of no pasture, no communication, no words.” Meribbaal, disabled by the fall, would never be the same. In Lo Debar, the great promise of his early years faded into memory and he was given a new name: “Mephibosheth,” or“he who scatters shame.”

Lo Debar.

As a mother of an autistic child who has struggled with speech, Lo Debar— the place of no words or pasture— is a familiar place. I remember holding my young son late into the night as his body rocked in my arms and his legs kicked in search of nighttime peace. My boy, like Mephibosheth, was in a place of no pasture or peace on weary nights.

Lo Debar, a place of no communication. How I ached for my son to communicate with me! I longed for him to speak real words.

Had the story ended there, my son and I might have stayed in Lo Debar with Mephibosheth forever. But God did not leave Mephibosheth in Lo Debar, and He will not leave us there today! 2 Samuel Chapter 9 continues the story:

Years later, David remembered a promise made long ago with his friend Jonathan. The words of Jonathan:

“May you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord as long as I live. But if I die, treat my family with this faithful love, even when the Lord destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.” (1 Samuel 20:14-15)

Remembering the promise David asks, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.” God’s kindness.

A servant of Saul’s household replied, “One of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.” So King David sent for Mephibosheth, bringing him back from Lo Debar. When Mephibosheth came before the king, he bowed low in fear of King David.

“Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”

God did not forget Mephibosheth, and even today, God knows where our children are when they cry in the night. In the story of Mephibosheth God speaks to all people living with a disability:

You are valued, remembered and loved beyond measure!

From that day on Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table, "like one of the king’s own sons.” Because of Jonathan, Mephibosheth was remembered and restored to a place of honor. Because of Christ, we are remembered by God and restored to communion with Him.

Restored to a place of honor and favor. Rescued from loneliness. Loved as one of the king’s own sons. That’s the story of Mephibosheth, and that’s the story of our children, healthy or disabled. But it’s also our story, an illustration of Christ’s redemptive love for us. We have been rescued from a place of no communication with the Father and restored to a seat at the King’s table.

Kelly is the author of “Autism’s Hidden Blessings: Discovering God’s Promises for Children with Autism and Their Families.” Visit her online at

Turtles in My Dish Draine

Turtles in My Dish Drainer

By Karen Ehman

I wish I could get married all over again.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d still choose the same groom. I’d even pick out the same off-the-shoulder, ivory wedding dress. And I’ve never seen a ring I love more than my custom-made, heart-shaped, half-carat solitaire. No, what I’d like to do all over again is to relive the day my groom-to-be and I visited the bridal registry.

I remember it well.

We met halfway between the Christian college I was still attending and the small town where he’d accepted a position as a youth pastor. Heading up the escalator at the JC Penney store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I was filled with excitement. What a blast it would be to choose linens, dishes, and decor for the little one-bedroom apartment we’d soon call home.

We pored over the various patterns and styles in the house wares department. I was elated when he agreed to the dishes I had my heart set on and the colors I envisioned for the bathroom, kitchen, and living room.

We discussed comforters and candlesticks, shower curtains and sheets. But as the minutes turned to hours, my once-cheerful fiancĂ© sat slumped on the floor with his back up against the side of a toaster display, mumbling, “I don’t care anymore. Just pick something!”

As a male, he didn’t find the same exhilaration in this activity as I did. I had dreamed of this day for months! We’d select exactly what items we wanted in our humble home. Then well-wishing friends and family members would happily pay for them. What a setup! What I didn’t realize, however, was that these items wouldn’t be for my husband and I alone to use and enjoy. As they say, first comes love, then comes marriage . . . well, you know the rest.

Now three children and 25 years later, I wish I could choose my items all over again. Who would’ve ever imagined where some of those possessions would one day end up? If I’d known then what I know now? Well, here are some of the choices I would have made differently:

Our state-of-the-art, stainless steel pasta colander. Instead of asking myself, “Is this big enough to hold spaghetti noodles for a party of 12?” I should have pondered the question, “Will this, when turned upside down and placed in our garden, be able to accommodate our son Spencer’s pet toad “Hoppy” and six of his closest kin, providing shelter while still allowing them to breathe?”

Our 200-thread-count, full-size floral cotton sheet set. Instead of making sure it matched our comforter and complemented our bedroom colors, I should have given it this test: “Will it still be in good enough shape 10 years from now to be made into a tablecloth and napkin set for our five-year-old Mackenzie’s Victorian tea table?”

Our Revere cookware set with the copper-clad bottoms. How foolish of me to diligently research and then choose based on its ability to conduct heat on both gas and electric burners. Why was I ever swayed by their warranty plan and top-notch Consumer Reports rating? Rather, I should have asked myself these questions: “Are there enough different-sized pans in this ensemble to make a full drum set for 18-month-old Mitchell armed with two large wooden soup spoons? Will it stand the test of time as the instrument of choice for three different drum-crazed children?” Thank goodness for their lifetime warranty!

Our beautiful silver cake server with the real ivory handle. This one hurts! Here I envisioned cutting our beautiful wedding cake. Then we’d bring this fine piece of cutlery out of storage year after year only for special anniversaries and important milestones. I never dreamed where it would one day end up. Here’s what I should have contemplated instead: “Will this be the perfect fit as a four-year-old’s makeshift belt, instantly turning him into Peter Pan, ready to take on Captain Hook with his (as he puts it) ‘trusty sword’ by his side?”

Our dish drainer. Not much thought went into that decision. I just chose one based on our kitchen color scheme. I should have, however, given thought to this:

“Will this be large enough to properly drain 14 small rubber snakes, six plastic frogs, and four snapping turtles from the dollar store after my five-year-old is finished playing with them in the bath tub?”

Well, there you have it. Thankfully our crystal goblets are safely locked up in the china hutch. Otherwise, who knows what disaster might have befallen them. Just the other day, my boys wondered how many shots from a Red Ryder BB gun it might take to shatter real glass instead of the simple cardboard targets they now use. I should have gone for the Tupperware tumblers!

Karen Ehman is a the Director of Speakers for Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of four books including A Life That Says Welcome and The Complete Guide to Getting & Staying Organized. She has been a guest on national television and radio programs including At Home Live, Engaging Women, The Harvest Show, Moody Midday Connection and Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

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Karen resides in Michigan with her college sweetheart-turned-husband, Todd. Together they have three sometimes argumentative but mostly charming teenagers. The Ehman family enjoys regularly opening their home for impromptu pizza parties, ping-pong and sharing Jesus. You can find out more about Karen by visiting her blog at

Following Through on Prayer Promises

By Julie Gillies

Have you ever promised to pray for someone and then completely forgotten about it? I have. I'm not only frustrated by my failure to pray, I'm embarrassed - especially when I run into my friend later.

The truth is we need each other's prayers. Yet, from the moment we wake up until we drop into bed at day's end, we're busy . . . with our children, household chores, errands - the list never ends.

So, how do we make good on the promise to pray for someone? Here are some strategies I've developed to help me back up my words with action.

  • Write it down. If you don't have a prayer list, make one. Then place it where you'll see it regularly: inside your Bible, next to your bed, or, if necessary, tape it to your bathroom mirror.
  • Ask God to remind you. He will. Expect to be reminded while you're busy doing something else. Determine to pray on the spot for your friend, just as soon as you receive the prompting. If you must, excuse yourself to the restroom for a few minutes.
  • Schedule it in your planner/iTouch/Blackberry/Daytimer. As in: Monday, 9:30 a.m. - pray for Angela.
  • Stay in touch with your friend. E-mail her or drop a pretty note card in the mail reminding her that you're praying. Ask how things are going so you can pray specifically. This not only encourages your friend, it keeps you accountable while you pray her through.
  • Remember, it's okay to pray for someone for a limited time. You can tell your friend, "I'll pray for you this week." I regularly modify my prayer list, crossing off one person and adding another as God leads and situations change. This way I don't have an unrealistic, never-ending prayer list.
  • If you don't feel like you can manage to pray regularly for her right now, don't make the offer. You can always pray with her just once on the phone, over lunch, or whenever else you get together. Better one sincere prayer together than a promise you probably won't keep.

The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (see James 5:16), but only if we actually pray them. With these simple strategies and God's help, we can follow through on our prayer promises. And we’ll have the blessing of knowing our prayers are a blessing in another’s life.

Julie Gillies trained in intercessory prayer for five years. Over 90 of her articles have appeared in various publications, and she is a contributing writer to the books Daily Devotions for Writers and Penned from the Heart. Julie is the Critique Groups Coordinator for Proverbs 31 Ministries and serves on the editorial team for P31 Woman magazine. Julie is founder of Word Chicks, a prayer ministry for women who write and/or speak. Visit her website at: