“Things I’ve Learned from my Children.”
A mother once recorded, “I’ve learned that a king size water bed has enough water to fill a 2000 square foot house four inches deep. I’ve learned that a three-year-old’s voice is louder than two hundred adults in a crowded restaurant. I’ve learned that double-paned windows are not strong enough to stop a baseball that has been hit by a ceiling fan. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke and lots of it. Playdough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence. Superglue is forever. No matter how much Jell-O you put in the swimming pool, you can’t walk on the water. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.”
Maybe this mother could relate to the phrase found four times in the book of Judges, “The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel” (Judges 2:14, 20; 3:8; 10:7). It comes as no surprise when you read through the flawed leaders and fickle people. Judges is a complicated book because you aren’t certain how to classify the personalities. During childhood, the stories we cut our teeth on train us that there is a good side and a bad side. The good side is always good and the bad side is definitively bad. However, Judges debunks the theory and actually shows us the raw material God uses to accomplish His will. You want to classify Barak as a hero, but he wanted Deborah to hold his hand. You want to think Jephthah is a self-made man, but he was a leader of outlaws and offers his own daughter on the altar in order to fulfill an unnecessary and rash vow. Gideon may seem meek and noble especially when he refuses to be crowned king. “And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you” (Judges 8:23). However, look out later when he takes the spoils of war and makes a golden ephod which the people went “a whoring after it” (Judges 8:27).
The power of Biblical stories is what at first is a picture becomes a mirror. What begins as a story becomes a biographical sketch. “There is none good but one, that is, God,” but, as for the rest of us, we are like the fickle people and flawed leaders (Mark 10:18). After reading today’s passage, it is time for a helpful reminder, “Charity suffereth long” (1 Corinthians 13:4). We all need God’s longsuffering. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).
So, today, give thanks for the Lord’s longsuffering and remember the grain of human frailty runs in us all.