June 7, 2011

The Valley of Achor


"And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of aAchor for a door of hope"
Hosea 2:15

"And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of aAchor a place for the herds to lie down in, 
for my people that have sought me."
Isaiah 65:10

No one really knows where the valley of Achor is. We aren't sure if what occurred there is myth, or reality. The Bible refers to Achor thrice. Once as the site of the stoning  of Achan, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen and asses and sheep and his tent, and everything he has, because of an offense by him and his household. And twice as a place of refuge, or more exactly, "A door of hope."

What makes Achor a door of hope? How inspiring can the combination be, of a desolate desert, a trespass, and a hundred deaths?

At times the messages of the Old Testament confuse me; more often then not I wonder what, exactly, was the point of what I read? But whatever I don't get about this story, as I've thought about Achor over the last days and weeks and months, one thing seems to be clear.  Death is not the end. When we think we've gone too far, when it seems certain there is no reason for hope left, when we've messed up or wasted or forgotten what should have been obeyed or cherished or remembered, that is where hope really matters, that is where it begins.  The dead brother, the salted mother, the stoned father.

Everything does not work out. Not like we planned. Not like we wanted.  

But to those "that have sought me," we cannot comprehend how good it gets. We cannot conceive of the blessings in store. It's so amazing, so full, so astounding that only a story, perhaps a parable, about a lost war, selfishness and sin, deaths in a desolate valley, buried in stones - blossoming, blooming and healing can hint at how much hope there is.

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