I’m back and back for good, I promise.

Over the past two weeks I have lost my luggage in, well, I don’t know where.  I was in San Antonio, TX but my luggage might have seen Pittsburgh for all I know.  After being reunited with my clothes, I was blessed to visit with fellow Christian school leaders and teachers, and to share what the religion faculty at my school is presently doing to impact the hearts of youth with the gospel of Jesus.  I walked through the Alamo, floated through the wonderful Riverwalk, and ate schnitzel in historic New Braunfels, TX (who knew some of the earliest European settlers of southern Texas were Germans?!).  I made it home long enough to pack again and head with the family to one of our favorite places in the world, the Smoky Mountains.  Check out my 12-year old son’s short video of our trip (yes, I am proud of him!).  We hiked and shopped and rode go-karts and ate out to our heart’s content.  I am blessed to have a wife who enjoys a beautiful waterfall as much as a sale at the scrapbooking store.  It was all very restorative.

Tom Branch Falls along Deep Creek Trail, GSMNP

Okay, forgive the self-indulgence.  Back in the saddle.  I hope the extra time has allowed us all to digest the many ideas and questions that are presently swirling in the world right now concerning Islam.

Living with others is hard.  People want things their way.  And when that doesn’t happen it becomes easy to think one is missing out on what others have.  Conspiracy theories abound and things seem unfair.  Community is hard.

It seems Muhammad is dealing with exactly these challenges in this new surah entitled “Battle Gains” or “The Spoils.”  This Medinan surah is situated months after the Battle of Badr, the first battle between the Muslims and the Meccans shortly after the Hijra (the migration to Medina). The battle ended with a stunning battle and now some of the soldiers are complaining about how the spoils of battle are being divided.  Allah weighs in on the matter in this surah.

Dividing the Spoils

Allah starts strong: true believers don’t fuss about things like this.  They don’t dream of questioning God.  They trust, pray and give.  They don’t worry about getting more (8:2-4).  And true believers “remember” (8:7, 11, 26, 30, 42, 43).  They remember what God has done thus far.  They remember that they were outnumbered at Badr.  They remember they had to fight the harder of two opponents.  They remember they should have been defeated but were victorious.  God takes care of true believers.  Just as He will right now as the “battle gains” are divided.

Spoils — whether of war or from a day of work or an inheritance or some unexpected windfall — have a way of making us forget.  All we see is the potential power lying within the object itself.  We forget how it came to be before us.  We forget from where it ultimately came.  We forget there may be a reason it has come our way. We forget that this object is only a tool to be used for some greater purpose.  All we want is to have.  So don’t stand between me and that object.

And it is at this moment that we become “the worst creatures in God’s eyes . . . those who are willfully deaf and dumb, who do not reason” (8:22).

Today, remember.  We did not get here by ourselves.  We are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” who have all contributed a few stitches to the tapestry of our lives.  Community is precious; don’t tear away at it.  More so, we are carried along by the grace and mercy of a providential God who overcomes all odds to advance his kingdom through the likes of us, his people.  Remember the ephemeral objects of this world are not the true rewards.  Remember the one in control knows best.  Remember He is good, right and fair.  Remember.

What specifically do you need to remember today so as to avoid becoming “deaf and dumb?”