The Path of Reaction
Everyone has had that moment when they look back and wonder how in the world they got in the mess they’re in now. The series of events leading from good intentions to bad results sometime will shock even the most observant of Christians.
So how do these events get so off course? I am proposing that it is possible that you were never truly on course. Let’s flip to the last couple of chapters in Judges and talk about the events that happened in the land of Israel.
In Judges 19-21 we find the story of a land that had yet again turned from God. They lived the way they wanted to, free of boundaries and submission. This wasn’t a new state of being for Israel; they spent hundreds of years living on the opposite side of God’s blessings.
So why is this significant?
It started with the story of a Levite man and his concubine who were on a journey home and took refuge in a place called Gibeah in Benjamin. What happened that night was the result of a people consumed with sin—they lived and breathed it. After pushing the man to come out and join them, he sent his concubine whom they abused to the point of death. The tragic story didn’t stop there; rather it caused him to respond.
And isn’t that where we all find ourselves in trouble?
Rather than dealing with his part of the situation, he sent for the nation to rally behind this cause—the cause he himself was a part of. The result was a nation that turned on each other and almost annihilated one of its tribes completely. If you read the story you’ll get a better picture of all of the mess and politics that went on behind the scenes, but you must understand there was a lot of pride on the line, a lot of misplaced loyalty, and a lot of sin involved.
If you read the story all the way through, you will find the Israelites stuck over and over again, covering their previous sins with even more sin. You read and wonder how anything could ever be turned around. You wonder if they will ever learn their lesson.
Have you ever felt stuck in that same cycle? Constantly feeling as if you’re climbing out of a hole, your good intentions leading you to even more messes than you started out with. The Israelites launched into a devastating war with their brothers, the Benjamites. But were the Benjamites right to do what they did? No, not even a little. But the situation can be traced back to the Levite man who avoided his problems and sent someone else out to deal with them for him. He stepped into a sinful environment and surrounded himself with people who were harmful to him and his family, and he wasn’t willing to pay the consequences or admit his part in where they ended up.
So what is my point?
In this story we find a tragic idea we live every day, the idea that our every action is linked to our circumstances. We live in a world of reaction, alleviating us of the responsibility of making choices that proactively keep us from harm. Rather than keeping himself and his family away from a place of danger, he walked right into a community that was far from safe.
We have a responsibility as Christians to have more than good intentions, and we need some follow-through. It’s time for us to be intentional about the way we live, the people with whom we surround ourselves, and the lines we draw lest we find ourselves in a place where we’re wondering what has happened to our family, our future, and our walk with God.
I’m asking you readers to come on a journey with me, to toss good intentions to the side, and let God have a hand in guiding your path. The story of the nation of Israel is a bumpy and curvy one, filled with disaster and victory. We see a people who constantly struggled with what they wanted, what they thought was right, and who they followed. The result was a constant state of upheaval and strain.
I’ve decided good intentions aren’t enough for me anymore. I’m learning to let God have the final say in my life’s direction.
I plan to choose intentions over reactions.
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Jason Huckaby is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.