“And as if it had been a light thing for Ahab to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.” – 1 Kings 16:31
So here’s the bad news, which you already know: Choices have consequences.
Ahab started out as a below-average king—and then leaned into it. One thing led to another and then—bam!—suddenly he was worshipping a completely different god, persecuting prophets, and offing humble farmers so he could get their land. One thing led to another and—bam!—he turned out to be worse than “all the kings of Israel were before him.”
You know how it goes: You and your partner have a little spat and don’t get around to talking it through. You draw the line and your kid goes ballistic. You put off calling your friend and your friend puts off calling you. You dig a hole at school or work and it just keeps getting deeper. You skip church for a few Sundays.
One thing leads to another and—bam!—before you know it, you and your partner are hardly speaking, your kid hates you, you’ve lost a friend, and, well, you can’t go back to church now—people might make a fuss. One thing leads to another and one day you wake up in the middle of a Talking Heads song, asking, “How did I get here?” and saying, “My God! What have I done?”
So here’s the good news, which you sometimes forget: One thing doesn’t have to lead to another. You can’t turn back the hands of time but, if you’re willing to take the first step, you can set things right. There is no expiration date on God’s mercy. In the end, even Ahab got a pass.
Yes, life is rife with slippery slopes. But the way back home is greased with grace.
Save me, O God, from my bad choices. Give me the good sense to turn around and set things right. Amen.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.