I’m spending time in prayer while reviewing Judges 10, and I stopped thinking about “them”, and started confessing from my own life, and, WHAM! There was this collision of my life and “these people” that shook me up…
Then the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals.” The LORD said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” The sons of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer. (Judges 10:10-16 NASB)
It’s the progression that got me. If order is important here, then I am these guys. Look at it again. They cry out to Yahweh and confess their sin. They clearly know what they did wrong, and confess clearly to Yahweh. But, then, He responds with a “rejection notice”, referring them to their preferred deities. That didn’t surprise me, though, because it sounds like how He was with Moses. What finally sunk through my thick skull was what they did next.
They respond to Yahweh’s “rejection notice” by acknowledging their sin again, and then putting away the foreign gods from among them to serve Yahweh. What I discovered is that the people followed my pattern of “minimal repentance”. I try to repent as little as possible in order to manipulate my Master into helping me. So, at first, I try to keep both whatever sin I want to do, and agree with my Master about it. I intentionally say both, that what I’m doing is wrong, and keep doing it.
There are always reasons for behaving this way, holding such an attitude, and so on. I will acknowledge the grace and mercy of my Master, and proclaim my unworthiness to receive such attention from Him. But, I wouldn’t stop what I was doing. What I said was true, and repentance is a change of mind to agree with God’s perspective. But thoughts lead to attitudes which lead to actions. If I really believed what I said, then my attitudes and actions would have followed suit. It’s the challenge of James to have faith lead to action.
When the sons of Israel tried crying out in confession alone, and that failed, they tried changing their behavior. Even that didn’t work exactly as intended. Eventually their misery wore Yahweh down (His soul was shortened). The lesson here isn’t effective techniques to manipulate my Master. The lesson is that He cannot be manipulated. My relationship with the Creator of the universe isn’t based on what I say, but, rather, is based on core beliefs that permeate everything about me.
The characteristics of my Master are what they are, regardless of what I do or say. So, eventually, my misery and His love for those around me will bring blessings in spite of my rebellion. His love for me doesn’t have to do with me, or my actions, attitudes, or beliefs. The truth is that my life is bound up in Him, and He will deal with me according to His purpose and design. When I cooperate with that, then I experience blessings of peace and joy. When I don’t, I cut myself off from those blessings, but His purposes and design continue.
Whatever comes through the words I type, whatever you perceive of me through these paragraphs, understand that a core truth about me is that I live in rebellion against my Master. I chafe at His mastery over me, and behave as if I can work out the purpose and direction of my life myself. It may seem that, because of this openness that I’m actually a good person, but also keep in mind that what I’m opening up about does exist. If your reluctance to accept my condition persists, perhaps you share my condition.
What I need, for myself and for those around me, is to give up my rebelliousness. I need to delve into those core beliefs and live there. I know that I know that I know my Master lives and that He loves me. I know that I walk before Him, regardless of that walk or how it matches my talk. I am always in His view. He sees what no one else does. And I also know He loves me regardless of that walk. I suppose I need that view of what life would be like without my presumptuous rebellion. I fear it, but I don’t know what it is either.
I need a view of the “carrot” for changing. What’s in it for me? I know it’s a lot, but I also know my Master doesn’t want me to change for that reason. He wants me to love Him as He loves me, which is regardless of me. He wants me to love Him regardless of Him, or the benefit of loving Him. And, I continue to struggle with that. He doesn’t do that with everyone, and that worries me too. Such love for Him can be amazingly good, but it can also be amazingly distressing. Don’t think David didn’t suffer all those years on the run from Saul. Jeremiah was a faithful and tragic character. Which disciple didn’t suffer for their faithfulness to Jesus?
Having said all that, I know that I haven’t really repented. There are still changes to my mind that need to happen to align it with my Master’s mind. As that happens, my attitudes and behavior will change as well, also to align with my Master. I will diminish, and He will shine forward. This life will be less about me, and more about Him. It may be like Jeremiah, or it may be like the disciple John. There aren’t a lot of examples that don’t include suffering, so, I need to let that fear go.
What do you see of our Master and of yourself through your knothole?