The people who live in Samaria fear for the calf-idol of Beth Aven. Its people will mourn over it, and so will its idolatrous priests, those who had rejoiced over its splendor, because it is taken from them into exile. It will be carried to Assyria as tribute for the great king. Ephraim will be disgraced; Israel will be ashamed of its foreign alliances. Samaria’s king will be destroyed, swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters. The high places of wickedness will be destroyed— it is the sin of Israel. Thorns and thistles will grow up and cover their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!” – Hosea 10:5-8
When I was a kid we used to play Poohsticks. When I share this with my students they look at me like I am crazy or deranged. I looked it up and it is actually a thing. Poohsticks is first mentioned in The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. It is a game where you select a stick then race them in a river or stream. We used to play this in the gutter after a hard rain. I guess when one grows up in Seattle one develops creative ways of coping with the rain.
In this passage it is the Samarian king who is the “Poohstick” and God is the one who tossed him in the water to be “swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters”. I am pretty sure that the Samarian king did not like being God’s Poohstick, but he was as helpless as an actual Poohstick to do anything about it. A Poohstick cannot alter it’s course or determine it’s destiny. In some ways I feel like a Poohstick in my pursuit of God. The difference is that I volunteered to “ride with the river” when I became a follower of Jesus. Ultimately God determines my destination as long as I remain in Him, the One River.
Our role as Poohsticks can take us through whitewater and doldrums and subject us to turbulence that sometimes seems too difficult to bare. God is good and provides quiet waters when we need them most. Our role as Poohsticks is not completely passive. In order to reach our destination in the undiscovered country we will need to avoid getting hung up in the “weeds” of this world.
Worldly weeds take many forms and are difficult to see coming sometimes. Health challenges, divorce, estrangement from friends or family, all of these weeds can impede our progress and challenge our faith. That is why we must place ourselves in God’s hands for help in navigating this sometimes tricky river that no one can cross on their own.
Prayer: God You are the river into which we throw ourselves. Help us to do so willingly and with confidence that you are taking us where we need to go.