Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You're stronger than you think ~ yes, I'm talking to you!

"If you go with me, I will go"
Judges 4:8

I recently had an interesting, and almost painful, intersection of life and Scripture.  I love when that happens.  As a matter of fact, if you've read just a few of these humble blog posts, you'll probably recognize that it's my joy to find illustrations of Scripture in everyday life.  But some days are more obvious than others.  Some days, they seem almost scripted by God.  I find it interesting, although not surprising, that the word "script" and the word "scripture" both have the same root word:  the word "write".  So I'm gonna say that this connection of life and Word was, in fact, written by God.

Here's what happened:  I've been studying the Book of Judges in Bible Study, and had reached chapter 4.  This is the account of the Israelites defeating the Canaanites in battle, while under the judgeship of Deborah.  Deborah, as a prophetess of God, had gone to a man named Barak, and given him God's message:  that God wanted him to lead the battle against Sisera, the commander of the army of King Jabin.  Barak agreed ~ with a twist.  "If you don't go with me, I won't go" he said to Deborah.

This is an amazing response, I think, and it leads many readers to the conclusion that Barak was a coward.  In that culture especially, it's almost pathetic, isn't it, for a man to not want to go to battle unless a woman went with him?  Even worse, maybe, for an Israelite to not want to obey God unless he had a woman at his side.

When I was younger, I saw Barak as fearful, and maybe that's accurate.  But as I study this passage again, I don't think that in a critical way.  Perhaps he was afraid; perhaps he was simply cautious.  Perhaps he saw the leadership qualities that Deborah had, and her faith in God, and he wanted that nearby as he went into battle.  And that's not so wrong, is it?

But I also feel sorry for Barak, because of his fears or doubts.  He had been tapped by God, through Deborah, so he had what he need to accomplish the mission:  the skills, the intelligence, the military know-how...  When God calls you to do something, He gives you what you need to do it.  But Barak didn't see in himself what God, and probably Deborah, saw in him.

And this is where the story comes home for me.  I have a sweet friend, a very close friend, who I believe has this same problem.  She is wise, and gifted in many ways, but also often unsure of herself.  I've seen her so many times hesitant, even in areas where I know that she would excel, and it's painful to me that I can't transfer my confidence in her, to her heart and mind.  Many of us have a tendency to focus on our flaws, or our weaknesses, but that's taking our eyes off of His strength.

I hope that I can be the kind of friend who can open her eyes to the gifts and strengths God has given her.  But if I can't do that, I can do as Deborah did for Barak:  be a support, and a companion.  I can be a good friend who reminds her to keep her eyes on Him.   And I can be ready to accompany her, if that's what she needs ~ whatever it takes for her to enjoy the plans God has for her, and get everything she can out of the battles ahead of her.  What joy it will be if I get to be with her when He gives her victory!

~ "With God we will gain the victory" ~
Psalm 108:13

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