Tag Archives: Judges 10

Stories Behind the Blurbs

He judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died, and was buried at Shamir.
Judges 10:2 (NRSV)

I had my annual physical this past week. In just over four months I will hit one of those birthdays with a zero in it, and medically things kick into gear with this one. There are more tests, and more questions, and more pleas for precaution. I have the rare experience of having the same doctor who cut open my 11 year old leg to remove a giant chunk of skateboard now sticking his finger up my backside to check my prostate (Sorry…TMI).

So it is that my thoughts have wandered into the big picture considerations of life’s journey in recent days. I’m asking the GPS recalibration questions of life’s road:

  • Where have I been?
  • Where am I at?
  • Where am I going?

One of the interesting things I have observed as we journey through the Book of Judges is that there are Judges for whom chapters are devoted to telling their stories. Then, there are judges like Tola and Jair in todays’ chapter who are mentioned in passing. Tola led for 23 years. Period. End of story. Jair led 22 years, had 30 sons who rode 30 donkeys and lived in 30 towns. Done.

Garrison Keillor, in one of his Lake Wobegon monologues, made the observation that a small town newspaper isn’t really the news. What a small town newspaper prints is just a table of contents to what’s really happening (which will never be printed). I have come to realize that the same thing is true of obituaries.

Having officiated my share of funerals over the years, I’ve come to realize that the two or three paragraphs printed in the newspaper and read in the funeral service don’t really tell the story of a persons life any more than the silly numerical trivia of Jair’s sons can possibly be the totality of his tale. It’s when you sit around the living room with grieving spouses, children, and grandchildren eating a day old donut brought to the house by a well meaning neighbor that you begin to catch a hint of it. Hearing their memories in the privacy of home, away from the public eye and amidst the din of screaming children, you hear stories of quiet strength, simple love, and moments that changed life for an individual.

Tola and Jair may not have had stories that fill chapters in the Great Story. I know, however, that there is more to the stories behind the blurbs we read today. So it is with all of us. Very few of us get more than a two or three paragraph summation at the end of this journey. But, that’s not the whole story by a long shot. The real story is being written daily in our relationships, our words, our gestures, and our seemingly insignificant acts of kindness and love.

So how’s my story going as I approach mile marker 50?
Where have I been?
Where am I at?
Where am I going?

December 11. It’s about time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life again.

Chapter-a-Day Judges 10

Tom & Madison at Vikings game 111509 Then they cleaned house of the foreign gods and worshiped only God. And God took Israel's troubles to heart. Judges 10:16 (MSG)

I took my daughter to a Minnesota Vikings football game yesterday. They won the game, and we had a great time taking in the event. I was reminded, however, of a time in my childhood when I thought that it was somehow my fault whenever my favorite team lost the big game. Growing up in an era in which the Vikings lost four Super Bowls, I had plenty of opportunities to wonder what I did that made God punish me so.

I look back and shake my head at the notion. How selfish of me to think that my sins are so central to the cosmos, that a mere misstep in my ten-year-old existence would factor into the balance of power in the National Football League.

I have to admit, the book of Judges sometimes tempts me to revert back to that kind of silly thinking. There is so much time scrunched into so few verses. It feels like a constant stream of karma. The people worshiping other Gods and something bad happening. They repent and something good happens. It feels a bit like their faith is a lucky charm.

I don't think that my wrong doings make the difference in a football game. I don't believe in reducing God to a good luck charm or Santa Claus who will do whatever I want if I'm good enough. I do, however, think that my wrong doings have negative consequences. My faithfulness to God's message has positive consequences. My perpetual wrong doings have increasingly negative consequences, both spiritually and physically, for me and those around me. My obedience has increasingly positive spiritual and physical consequences (for me and those around me, but not for the Vikings).