Thursday, September 18, 2014

A story from Judges - Serve the Lord!

I was reading in the book of Judges this morning. Our Thursday Bible Study class has been studying Intrepid Heroes of the Bible. One of those heroes was Joshua. After studying Joshua, I felt compelled to read through the book of Judges. It is a fascinating book. I taught a Bible Study on Judges once, long ago.

As I read, I came across the story of Deborah and Barak. In this story, the Lord calls Barak to lead the people of Israel against Sisera who had 900 iron chariots. The Lord promised to give victory. That should have been a slam dunk for Barak. The Lord says to go and fight and He will give victory. What more needs to be said?

But Barak didn't want to do it. When this word came to him through Deborah the judge, he was still unconvinced. He wouldn't do it unless Deborah accompanied him. As this unfolded there were 2 things that caught my attention. The first is that Deborah was called to act in as much as Barak was to lead the people. So often, when someone else is called into action by the Lord, it might just affect you as well. Just because someone else is called to do something, doesn't mean that you won't have to do something as well.

As a pastor, I see this regularly. I am called to lead the people of St. Paul's in Word and Sacrament. Yet, just because I am called to lead the congregation does not relieve the members of the congregation from doing the work of the Lord. Too many times, we will sit back and let someone else do that which is needed, refusing to get involved. Then one of several things happens: a) it doesn't go well and we blame them for not trying harder, b) it doesn't go the way we like and we sit and complain to anyone who will listen, c) it goes well and we try to take credit for it in some sort of way, d) it does well and we want to jump on the bandwagon but it is too late, it is finished, e) you can figure out some other way that we react to the situation. Each one of us is called to serve the Lord. Barak was called to lead the army. Deborah was called to go with the army. The soldiers were called to fight in the army. The people of Israel who were not soldiers were called to support their work. All were called to lift up the soldiers in prayer. Everyone was called into service. That is how it is to be in the local congregation as well. All are called into service.

The second thing that caught my attention was that Deborah told Barak because he wasn't willing to step forward, someone else would get the credit for the victory. That person would be a woman. The first thought is that Deborah is going to get credit for the victory. But that isn't the case. Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, is the one who gets credit for the victory. This made me think. How often do we think we need to get credit when something good happens? When someone else gets the credit, we get upset and wonder why they didn't stroke our ego. You may not be the one who gets the credit for things when it goes well. It is selfish of us to think that every situation is about "me". It wasn't about Deborah. It was about what the Lord was doing. It wasn't about Barak but about what the Lord was doing. And it took a little known person to do the work.

The story made me think. Serve the Lord. That is the call. Don't worry about who gets the credit. Just serve the Lord. Do what needs to be done at the time. Let the Lord guide you in the actions of the moment. Be involved. Don't be afraid to get messy in the service of the Lord. (It go really messy for Jael). Serve the Lord, however and whenever He has need of you.

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