Read His Words Before Ours!
“There’s that ‘should’ word again.”
This phrase is forever drenched in the loving sound of my husband’s voice as he makes a move towards me. To which, I insistently pull away.
He dramatically shakes his head and moves forward again, a smile teasing his lips.
“Oh my goodness”, he soothes. “Will you just….relax?!”
Tears threaten on my side, my body tightly unyielding as he works to draw me near.
He doesn’t understand.
He doesn’t know how much I’ve got to finish, how behind I am, and I continue babbling on.
I’m pretty hard on myself; it comes naturally to me.
Always better, always more, I use “should” more often than I…should. Oh wait…
Should have done this.
Should have been better.
Should have made that choice.
“You’re so frustrating sometimes, you know?”
But his voice holds nothing but winsome endearment as he resolutely folds me tight against him with no escape.
I wrap myself up so securely with my ‘shoulds’, it becomes nearly impossible to see clearly. I often can’t even recognize the Love standing right in front of me, beckoning me to stand down and rest.
My husband is a constant reminder of the Lord’s love for me and His relentless pursuit.
Even when, or especially when, I “should” be performing better.
The period of the Judges was a crazy, wacky time for the nation of Israel.
If anyone really should have had a laundry list of should haves and must dos, it was these people!
If you’ve never cracked open your Bible to the Old Testament book of Judges, you should try it! It’s more intriguing than you might imagine. Chock full of strange stories, Judges will make you scratch your head in curiosity, leave your mouth hanging open at the wild true stories, and make you wonder what else might be hidden in the pages of the Bible.
An incredibly obese king who dies when a dagger is plunged into his belly and the whole blade is swallowed up by his fat.
A brave housewife who kills the commander of the enemy army by driving a tent stake through his head after she gave him food and drink.
A woman who rose head and shoulders above male leadership in a male dominant society to guide God’s people with her humble faith.
An ordinary man with no societal favor, leads the entire nation to victory with only 300 men by smashing empty jars, yelling, and using torches.
A rash man’s vow that cost his daughter’s life.
Samson’s incredible strength.
And of course, everyone’s favorite, the talking donkey who saw an angel.
Judges reminds me how God pursues His people by any means necessary.
Regardless of how far we run or how hard we push against Him.
Israel was known for being stuck in a cycle (can I get an Amen? I know cycles!)
Theirs went like this…
1) They abandoned the Lord, did their own thing, and ran furiously away from God.
2) God justly punished them by bringing a foreign power to oppress them.
3) Israel begged God for deliverance from oppression, promising to live for Him
4) God answered by raising up a Judge to deliver them and lead them back to Him.
……and then they did it all again!!
For nearly 400 years this cycle of running away, being punished, returning, and drawn back continued on. Generations died in this cycle.
Yet God kept on pursuing.
He loved Israel again and again. Even though He knew they would again break His heart and turn away, blinded by their own selfish ways.
Sisters, I am exactly the same.
Sure, it’s easy for me to sit here with my hot drink, my journal, and my Bible open to Judges to not only gape at their incredible stories, but also judge their inexcusable, repetitive behavior.
How could they?
What were they thinking?
Were they thinking??
Yet there was the Lord, loving them again. Pursing them again.
Despite every ‘should have’ they never followed through on.
And here our stories cross.
My should haves, my repetitive sin cycles, my insistence to trust myself and my way look just as absurd as Israel’s.
Yet, just like my husband’s insistent arms, the Lord draws me back again and again and again.
The poet of Psalm 107 had this cycle thing figured out. Maybe he had cycle issues too.
The whole psalm is built around 4 repetitive occurrences: people suffering, people cry out, God rescues, their grateful response. I would quote it here for you, and break it all down, but that kind of steals the fun of discovery from you. So, go read it right now for yourself.
Where do you relate?
Do you see the Rescuer?!
Sit with the people’s heart response.
And when it happens again, think of the deeply loving pursuit of arms that refuse to let you go.
No matter all the should haves you pile up, the sins you hide, or the shame you carry.
Maybe one of these times, you’ll decide to fall into the embrace that keeps on waiting.
Maybe you’ll see the God of Freedom for exactly who He is and finally,
you’ll love Him back because you will have discovered that all this time,
He has loved you in the should have.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!