Round and Round We Go, Where We Stop You Already Know
“Then the Israelites did things that the Lord saw as evil…they went away from the God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods from among the surrounding peoples, they worshipped them, and they angered the Lord…So the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He let them be defeated by their enemies around them…The Lord was moved by Israel’s groaning under those who oppressed and crushed them. So the Lord would raise up leaders for them, and the Lord would be with the leader, and the leader would rescue Israel from the power of their enemies…But then when the leader died, they would once again serve other gods and to worship them.” – Judges 2:11-19
How many times have you seen your favorite movie? How many times can you repeat a good song before it becomes wearisome? (Have you heard, “Baby Shark”?)
Even the things we enjoy can become dull, tedious, or even a nuisance over time. Repetition can lull us to sleep or grind us down. The book of Judges is just that, repetitive. While the judges (12-16 in total depending on how you count them) vary in depiction and demeanor the basic plot remains the same:
- Israel enjoys life
- Israel sins
- God punishes Israel by allowing them to be oppressed
- Israel cries out for help
- God raises up a judge to deliver them from oppression
- Israel is freed, lives in peace, and enjoys life.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
It is the repetitive nature of their story that makes me think about the repetitive nature of my story. How many times have I made the same mistake or let my ego take the wheel? How many habits have I replayed or cyclical systems have I been stuck in? And I know I’m not alone. How many times have we as a church, as a city, as a country made the same decisions because of fear and anxiety? While we as a species have progressed in many ways; in perhaps just as many ways, we keep playing the same songs over and over again.
And yet, God remains faithful. God remains engaged. God remains hopeful.
One of the key descriptions of God in the Old Testament is steadfast. The Torah, the Psalms, and the Prophets all sing of the creator’s constant and unswerving dedication to creation. The New Testament puts it this way:
“Love is patient.”
Looking at our collective history it is no wonder that the first description the scriptures give of love is patience.
In the moments when I exasperate myself it’s good to breathe deep and remember. There is a love that I cannot wear thin. There is a love that has endured humanity’s maddening misadventures (including the time of the Judges). There is a love that has been tried and tested over millennia and it is still found true. It is that love that is patient with me. It is that love that patiently holds you.