After the Fireworks

After the fireworks of July 4th comes the hard work of creating a democracy that continues on July 5th.  Our epic hero, God, has created a young emerging nation despite the efforts of our epic villain, Satan, to defeat it.  Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised Land and assigns portions to each tribe.  Joshua passes, though, and a new generation grows up who has not experienced the mighty works of its ancestors.

         The history of the Israelites under the leadership of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Joshua is called the time of the Patriarchs.  Between them and King David and King Solomon is a period called the Judges.  The tribes are conquering their territory and “becoming.”  Two major problems face this young nation.  Comparisonitis: the established tribes around them have kings for leaders, not some unseen God who identifies himself as “I AM.”  Second, the other tribes worship idols that are concrete statues and have fun rituals like temple prostitutes.  Can the laws given on Mt. Sinai forge a nation loyal to “I AM”?  Can any law create relationship?  True relationship requires true freedom.

         Judges 2:6-3:6, our reading for today, tells how the people would be faithful for awhile, become lazy in caring for their relationship with God, slip into idolatry, get themselves in trouble until they would cry out to “I AM” for rescue.  God would raise up a judge to lead the people for a period but if left to themselves they would forget God once the problem passed.  I suspect we are similar.  We pray hard when we have problems and would like miraculous rescues from God but when times are good, we are more likely to be slack on our spiritual disciplines. 

         God left the raiders and enemies to harass the Israelites so they would learn to do battle with evil as they had “not had previous battle experience.”  I have heard it said, don’t pray for patience because you will then get trials that teach you patience!  Perhaps the saying is, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  God was training his nation to depend on him as they defeated their enemies and to worship him alone.

         As we think about the cycles we go through in our spiritual walk, we might ask ourselves what phase we are in.  Are you in a dry phase when God feels distant?  Perhaps you are learning to go deeper in prayer.  Are you feeling frustrated in your relationship with God?  How might that be resolved from your side ie not what God needs to do to make you happy but what you might need to do to ease the tension – more prayer, more reading, journaling, time with music, or perhaps call a friend to talk it over with.  C. S. Lewis in his book, Screwtape Letters described human beings as beings ruled by the law of undulation, always going up and down.  He offers that it is like a child learning to walk and says, the parent is never happier than when that child takes those tottering steps not sensing the parents presence.  I like that picture.  The parent, God, is so proud and the child, me, is learning.  We will see how this works for the Israelites this week.  Blessings.

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