Sunday, August 28, 2011

When leaders lead

7:04 p.m. Today's project was to set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than the usual for 2nd service on Sunday, because the Jeep was on empty and I had no idea whether the neighborhood Arco station would even have gas today. I wanted to be prepared for a longer drive, just in case. As I went downstairs and got the coffee going, I remembered that I'd made up the scrambled egg mix (sausage, cheese, home-canned green salsa, 6 eggs) but still needed to fry them up fresh. So I posted my scripture on Facebook, thankfully had only one birthday greeting to give, Ben Johnson, an old friend from school board days and Harvest.

Devotional time was especially rousing, because my scripture portion was Judges 5, the victory song of Deborah, wife of Lapidoth, the prophetess and only female judge of Israel. Without her exhortations, timid Barak wouldn't have gone to battle--in fact, he insisted she go with him! (Judges 4:8). Israel had backslidden after the death of the last judge Ehud, and the Israelites were once again oppressed, this time by Jabin, king of Canaan.

Deborah judged Israel from the Tree of Deborah in the mountains of Ephraim. A word came to her from the Lord, and an army was gathered under the command of Barak of the tribe of Naphtali. This army didn't even have weapons, while Jabin had 900 iron chariots! God put them in disarray, Israel won, and yet another woman, Jael, killed the enemy's army commander Sisera.

Deborah and Barak's song sets the scene, verse 2-3:

When leaders lead in Israel,

When people willingly offer themselves,

Bless the LORD!

Give ear, O princes!

I, even I, will sing to the LORD;

I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

Deborah describes a grim time in Israel, v. 6b-9,

The highways were deserted,

And the travelers walked along

the byways.

Village life ceased, it ceased in


Until I, Deborah, arose,

Arose a mother in Israel.

The people had fallen into idolatry, so there was war in their gates.

Not a shield or spear was seen

among forty thousand in Israel.

My heart is with the rulers of


Who offered themselves willingly

with the people.

Bless the LORD!

Deborah goes on to commend the courage of the tribes who fought as well as to rebuke those who didn't! I like Deborah--a bold and effective leader called by the Lord, who very well knew that no man was available! God took pity on His people once again, in disarray like sheep without a shepherd.

The song saves the most dramatic recounting for the last--the death of Sisera, v. 24-27:

Most blessed among women is Jael,

The wife of Heber the Kenite;

Blessed is she among women in


He asked for water, she gave


She brought out cream in a lordly


She stretched her had to the tent


Her right hand to the workmen's


She pounded Sisera, she pierced

his head,

She split and struck through his


At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay


At he feet he sank, he fell;

Where he sank, there he fell


After that dose of adrenaline, I felt ready to get going, with full confidence that I could keep Steve on schedule, get ready, cook and clean up breakfast, and get to church on time! Early, actually, because I had to return 5 borrowed copies of my book to the Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley bookstore and give a card to our friends.

We got our gas (at a 10 cents/gallon discount at Shell), and still had almost 45 minutes to go before church. So we popped into Winco and got bananas for Steve and dog food, and hit the 60 freeway east. We had plenty of time to find a shady parking spot at church, return the books, visit with friends, and head to the sanctuary for our favorite seats on the aisle of the 3rd row. On the way in, I was stopped by Marcia, who works in women's ministry, asking me if I'd spend some time with a young woman who is caring 24/7 for her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. I'll get a call later from the office with contact details. Thank you, Lord! That was one more indication that You can use even the most daunting trials, like my husband's Alzheimer's, for Your purpose of ministry to others who are hurting.

Believers, listen and be ready, because you just don't know when God will call you to lead, to step out in front for Him!

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