Wonder in Duty
I just want to know stuff. Like, will life ever get back to "normal"? Will there be an end to all the restrictions? Will my job be fine? How will my kids "turn out"? What is going on in our government? What can I do?
When my husband and I were first married, it really bothered me that he was never home around the same time. Like, ever. His job just doesn't allow for predictability. Ever. And, I was really annoyed by this.
"I just like to know things." I have heard myself say this, and now, my kids say this! How about you?
In reading through Judges 13, I read of a man who really liked to know things. This man's name was Manoah. Now, Manoah started out not knowing things. We read an angel of the Lord appeared to his wife. Her name? We aren't told. But, the angel appears to her and tells her she will conceive and bear a son. "No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines" (Judges 13: 5). The woman runs to tell her husband what just happened and what the angel told her. The husband, Manoah, immediately prays to God that the "man of God" will "come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born" (!3:8). I kind of laughed at this part, because, for those of you who have had children, didn't you wish someone would have done this when you found out you were expecting? Like- "Please tell me what to do!" And, "how should I raise this kid??" "Am I doing this right?" And, then you have the second, or third, or fourth, and you realize no one is going to have all the answers for how this- or any child- will grow up and do or become.
Yet, God answers Manoah's prayer and the angel appears again to Manoah's wife. She runs to get Manoah, and he immediately comes and begins asking questions. I do find it amazing Manoah never questions whether or not the baby will be born (amazing, considering he and his wife and been barren!); yet, his questions revolve mostly around the what the child will do with his life. The angel responds by telling Manoah that whatever he had instructed the woman to do, "let her be careful". He doesn't answer the question at all. Manoah asks the angel to stay so they can prepare food for him. The angel replies that he won't eat the food, but that if they prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, he will stay. In verse 16, we read Manoah still did not realize this was the angel of the Lord! Manoah then asks another question: "What is your name, so that when your words come true, we may honor you?" The angel responds by saying, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?"
Manoah then takes a goat with the grain offering and offers it on a rock to the Lord, "to the one who works wonders". As Manoah and his wife are watching the offering, the angel of the Lord goes up in the flame on the altar. Manoah and wife immediately fall on their faces to the ground. The angel never appears again to them. Manoah immediately begins fretting about what just happened, declaring they will die "for we have seen God"! His wife refutes his statement by saying, "If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these" (13:23).
In reading through this, I was reminded with how God has laid out for us in his word "tasks" for us to do. To obey, to strive to become like Christ, to love God and to then, in that love, love our neighbor. To train our children in the way they should go. To glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits, which are Gods. To rejoice in hope. To hold fast to our faith.
Yet in all these tasks, we are never EXACTLY told what that looks like in the every day chaotic humdrum. And, like Manoah, we find ourselves not necessarily denying the given tasks, but worrying about the details, the "how-tos", and the "what-ifs". Then, when God patiently shows us glimpses of himself through various trials, tests, or instructions, we immediately jump to conclusions about what will happen to us, if we are doing things "right" and whether or not the outcome will be "fine".
"There are secret things which belong not to us, of which we must be quite contented to be ignorant, while in this world. The name of our Lord is wonderful and secret, but by his wonderful works, he makes himself known as far as is needful for us" (Matthew Henry).
What secret things are you trying to "find out" for yourself? Maybe you are frustrated with this season of life and not knowing how things will "pan out" for you. Maybe your children have you frustrated, confused, and tired. Maybe your husband's plans and work leave you annoyed. Perhaps these days of Covid are leaving you angry and depressed, Perhaps the state of our government finds you fearful and bitter.
Whatever the situation (or situations!), remember God has not left you to figure it all out on your own. Rather, in all this he remains faithful. Faithful to show you, through his word and his works, that he is wonderful! He is the God who does wonders. What wonders of God can you cling to in these days? Remember that the the same God who worked wonders in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God working wonders in your day.
"Why do you ask my name, knowing it is wonderful?"
"You are the God who works wonders- even now!" Praise him today, seek his ways and his word, do your duty, and let God take care of the events to come!
Worship him in his beauty- the beauty that governed Israel, the beauty that led Christ to come and endure the cross, the beauty that defeated sin and death, the beauty that works in the ways of men, the beauty that transforms your heart, the beauty that will one day see him hailed by all as "the King of kings and Lord of lords!"
Song for Mediation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odKxftGhVRE