Untie the Knots
Deborah, prophet and judge, was a woman of heroic stature who had the courage to lay her inner leading on the line of fire. She spurred military leader Barak on to victory and served as his constant inspiration.
Part of spiritual maturity is developing good judgment, the ability to discern good from evil, as one becomes ever more finely tuned to the will of God. Sometimes we need to consult a person of mature spirituality for help in making decisions, finding peace, settling conflicts. Such a spiritual guide willingly lends his or her heart and mind to God on our behalf.
The biblical understanding of judge includes the notion of sifting and separating and contains discernment in its meaning. Discernment is like someone who carefully unknots a wad of necklace chains in the bottom of a jewelry box or painstakingly sifts sand and dirt from grains of wheat. Discernment can be a tedious process that requires patience and the desire to get to the heart of things.
A spiritual friend is someone who won’t become frustrated by the process, who will respect the separate strands of your life and motivations, who will be free to listen, and who will not take advantage of your need to get his or her own needs met. A Deborah can be present to God for you when you feel confused or overwhelmed.
Maybe you feel called to be a judge in this sense—to offer another your intimacy with God and to help the person notice and name God’s footprints in his or her life experience.
Thank you, Holy One, for Deborah and for the other Deborahs in my life. Thank you for those whose faith and encouragement have inspired me to take risks and reap victory for your glory. May I bring your love and wisdom to those you send to me. Amen.
Like us, the Israelites struggle to be consistently faithful to God. God therefore allows a foreign king to rule them until the people come to their senses and cry out for help. The prophet Deborah gives instructions for the battle that will begin the deliverance of the people. The readings from Psalms and Zechariah demonstrate that this pattern of unfaithfulness and restoration has occurred frequently in the history of God’s people. In Thessalonians, Paul echoes what Jesus says in last week’s Gospel reading: We must always be prepared for the return of Christ because we do not know when it will occur. God gives us resources to use for the kingdom, and in Matthew Jesus indicates that God will ask for an account of how well we have used them.
Read Judges 4:1-7. Who has been a judge—someone who helps you discern—in your life? How can you help others discern the way?
Read Psalm 123. How do you focus on God through conflict and struggle?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. When have you encouraged someone in a time of darkness? When have you been the one in need of encouragement?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. What would change if you considered your dreams and desires as from God? What first step can you take to enact your desires?
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