While traveling with my family this summer we encountered several detours. Detours that resulted in delaying our arrival home for nearly 5 hours. You can imagine how frustrating that road trip was! My youngest daughter was traveling in a different car that chose to leave an hour earlier. They avoided all those detours and arrived home on time. I wonder if planning ahead or paying attention to directions and travel warnings might have made a difference in our journey. I wonder how our spiritual lives might be like that summer road trip.
This week in The Detour series of our church-wide study, The Story, we explore the book of Judges. What can we learn from the book of Judges that will help to shape our story and guide our spiritual journeys?
This Week’s Scripture References: Judges 2-4, 6-8, 13-16
The book of Judges is a story of detours and challenges but also of God’s desire to be in relationship with people. Within the book of Judges we find stories of moral turmoil that lead us to explore questions of how God relates to us and how we relate to God. The book of Judges reveals a cycle in Israel’s journey:
“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the…” “The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of…” “But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer… who saved them. The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge…” “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and because they did this evil the Lord…” Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer…” Judges 3: 7-15
Israel had taken a detour from the journey God intended and found themselves in the midst of chaos.
When have you experienced chaos or dark spaces in your life?
The Israelites mocked the call of God and traded it for things like power, greed, and self-reliance. And yet every time the people cried out for God to rescue them, God is there and provides a deliverer, a way out and a way back into covenant with God. The book of Judges mentions several judges, a succession of individuals chosen by God, to rescue people and lead them back into a relationship with God.Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson
This succession of deliverers written about in the book of Judges reminds us that just as God never abandoned the Israelites, God never abandons us. In the midst of our own struggles, dark spaces and chaotic lives our deliverer, Jesus, is with us! Jesus shows up in the dark chaotic spaces of our lives and dwells with us.
How have you experienced Jesus in the challenges and struggles of your life? From what dark spaces do you need Christ to deliver you?
Consider the words of this version of Nicene Creed. As you read reflect on the ways Jesus, your personal Savior and Deliverer, journeys with you in the dark spaces and chaos of your life.We believe in God, the creative force that sustains and nurtures all creation and creatures in ways beyond our understanding. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth embodied the power of this force; extraordinarily able to grasp its meaning, he revealed this face of God-reality to us in his life and teaching. He was human, like us. Through grace and mercy he offers us access to this incomprehensible power. There are forces in our lives that assault God’s creative force, that brings suffering, degradation and death. In such an assault, Jesus was rejected and killed. But death did not silence his voice. Evil will not eradicate the good that Jesus showed us, a good that lives in us and through us. The power of this creative force is at work in our lives today. This creative force is the Holy Spirit. Our forefathers and mothers gave witness to this source of life in their words and deeds. We, as members of this community of faith, will likewise give witness in our words and deeds. Secure in God’s faithfulness, we will fear no evil. When our faith falters, God’s goodness and mercy will rescue us. Beyond our lives, grace will abound. Amen.
Adapted from The Nicene Creed in contemporary language by Don Welch
Give thanks for God’s goodness and mercy that rescues us from the detours and challenges of our chaotic lives!
To listen to this week’s sermon, A Few Good Men and Women, Sermon 3/4 in “Detour” The Story Mini-Series, click here!
For Family Devotions related to this week’s message, click here!
For more information and additional resources for The Story at Faith UMC, click here!