If you're following my Instagram, you know our family is posted up at a Young Life camp in Colorado named Frontier Ranch. Side note: if you are a high schooler or have a high schooler, make YL camp part of life. You won't regret it. Anyhoo, I'm trying to imbibe every piece of beauty here before we head home to the 100 degree flatlands of Houston, and in doing so, I've gotten a chance to be still and hear a few cool things from God. Wanna hear the latest? It's pretty neat.
I've been reading Judges. Yes, Judges. I know, it's not exactly the most logical choice of reading material for my time here in scenic Colorado, but it was the next book in the Bible after the last one I read and sometimes I'm linear. Yesterday chapter 6 was up, which is the introduction to Gideon's story, but I didn't even get to Gideon before God threw up a stop sign. Oh my gosh, guys, verses 1-10 are like a water balloon ready to pop with awesomeness. I might have to break this into 2 blogs because who wants to read a blog for more than 5 minutes these days?
Here's what it says:
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.
7 When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”
Quick hit list of interesting facts:
The Israelites had created and were operating in a perpetual sin cycle. They would turn from the Lord, he would let them reap the consequences in order to draw them back to him, they would cry out to him in their misery, he would save them somehow, they would live in peace for a bit, then they would start the cycle all over again. Here's the kicker: THEY are the ones who caused their own captivity and misery, yet God rescued them EVERY SINGLE TIME they turned back to him. Like, what? All I'm saying is it's a good thing I'm not God. I would have let them soak in their own squalor until their skin was pruney. God is nice.
They had built their own shelters and were in hiding. In choosing life apart from God, his people had gone into self-preservation mode. Since they weren't trusting God anymore, they had no other option than to trust themselves for their own protection. And it wasn't going well. They had turned their back on true protection in favor of hiding, guarding and isolation. Weak men's counterfeit safety. God doesn't want that life for us. That's not the life he died to give us.
God sent "a prophet". What, no name?? I want to know who this is, but God made sure he was gloriously anonymous. We don't know his identity, yet he accomplished the great task of setting the Israelites' minds right again by reminding them of their position with God. Sometimes, God wants us to remain anonymous for some of the work he asks us to do.
Look what the prophet told them in verse 10. He reminds them that the LORD is God, that he told them not to fear the gods of the land, and that they did not listen. All the other points were interesting to me, but this is the one that snatched me baldheaded. God is my God, too. How many things has he told me not to fear, yet I insist on continuing to fear them? And where has that fear led? Captivity? Darkness? Small living? Self-preservation? Guarding, hiding and isolation? For example, I live fearing that I'm a crappy parent, and my kid is going to be permanently damaged by my parenting. Where does that fear lead? To controlling and worrying and saying no when I could say yes. It's stifling and robs me of the simple joy of being present with my kid and watching him grow up into a wonderful man. So what do we do with the fear that pops up a la prairie dog in the desert? We look the fear in the face and choose truth instead. If God is my son's God too, then he watches over him just like he watches over me. The work he began in him, he will complete, no matter if I mess up and parent imperfectly. God will help me, guide me, and fill in the gaps I miss. God is faithful to my offspring just as he is faithful to me. I am not my family's Holy Spirit; they already have one of those and it is his job to work all the things in their souls, not mine. It is my responsibility to follow God and parent how he tells me to parent. The rest is up to him. Those are the truths, and when I choose to dwell on those things, fear loses its power and victory is possible. When I look at it this way, why would I ever insist on fearing??
I have more to say, but for the sake of your sanity and schedule, I'll stop here for now. I'm asking myself and God a few questions after reading this section of scripture, and I invite you along with me. Feel free to let us know what you discover.
1. Am I in a sin cycle? Is there something that I keep doing that makes me miserable, sends me to bad places, then makes me call out to God, only to enter back into the the sin later? How can I take God up on his grace and promise to help me beat that thing for good?
2. Am I hiding, guarded, or isolated? What is causing that?
3. Is there somewhere God might want me to be anonymous, but I'm wanting to take credit?
4. Is there somewhere I'm insisting on fearing instead of trusting? What is the truth about that situation?
God has such a bigger life for us than one laced with fear and hiding. I'm so ready to live there. You?
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