The Bible is so full of Epic adventures and stories but what makes them more is that they are reality. They are history. This is not the stuff of hollywood and yet Hollywood could take a cue from some of these stories and I believe that people would be drawn to them because they are stories of real people doing real things in conjunction with a real God. Yesterday's reading was one of my favorite passages and stories from the Old Testament. And since no one posts on Sunday's readings I couldn't let it slip by without saying something. We have just entered the moment in Israels History where the Judges arrive on the scene. Some of them we get detailed accounts of their exploits and God's deliverance (Ehud, Samson, Gideon) others simply get one verse (example: Othniel, Shamgar). Which as a sidenote, I have always wondered about some of these characters from Scripture that we know little to nothing about. You know that there has to be a story there. The same holds true to the account of David's Mighty Men. Most of them get one line in scripture but the one line leaves asking for more. It will be fun to meet these men in Heaven and hear the missing pieces of the story. Anyway...
Yesterday's reading brought three of these judges to the forefront as Israel begins the slow march toward requesting a king to look like the other nations. The first Judge's name should have rang a bell. Othniel is Caleb's nephew and son-in-law. He is the one that Caleb's Daughter marries which we read about a couple of days ago. (remember Caleb was the other spy who came back with a good report about the land before the 40 years of wandering. He was the only other man besides Joshua who got to see the promised land from that generation. He was a faithful man of God and it appears that he passed this on to his children and the next generation just as God had asked is people to do. As good as that is, that is another message for another day.)
The second judge is the one I want to land on today. Ehud. Many of you may know the story of Ehud and many of you may have read this story for the first time. Either way I hope that you caught some of the little details in this epic story.
Ehud was chosen as much for his faith in God as he was for his left-handedness. Ehud, I believe, is the only person in scripture whose dominante hand is referenced. You don't hear Paul for instance being referred to as being right-handed. (who knows maybe he was left handed too) Hmm. Why would that be? Why would scripture make reference to his left-handedness at least 3 different times. Interesting.
Well, being left handed, he would have strapped his sword/dagger to his right leg where as right handed people strap the sword to their left. When he went into bring tribute tot he king of Moab the guards would have checked his left leg for a weapon because, by and large, everyone was right-handed. His left handedness allowed him to get into the kings presence with a the means to deliver his nation.
Now that in and of itself is pretty cool that God would use a man simply because of his left-handedness. BUT.. the story still continues. Here is where it really gets good and where Hollywood could take a look at the epic and real life nature of scripture.
Ehud gives the tribute and on his way out tells the the attendants to the king to let the king know that he has a special message from the Lord that is only for him. King Eglon (his name alone sounds as if he is enormous) excitedly invites him in and sends the attendants away. Then Ehud "delivers the message" by driving the dagger into Eglon's belly so far that his fat enveloped the handle of the sword, before sneaking out the side window and rallying the troops to destroy Moab.
The story could have ended there and we could have all joyfully considered another great showing of God's sovereignty and never would have thought another thing about it. But the story continues. As King Eglon is laying on his palace floor dying and dead his attendants think that he is taking an unusually long time in the bathroom. And it is only after waiting to the point of embarrassment that they break the door down to see if he needs any help, and by then Ehud is long gone and the invasion has begon.
Now what is it that we all can we draw from this great story. First of all we are reminded that even if we think that we have absolutely nothing to offer God, even if we see ourselves as having no gifting or abilities that will, or even could, be used by God we are wrong. God can use anything and everything for his Glory. We simply have to be willing to be vessels to be used. Ehud could have explained away how he was the wrong man for the job and how he really didn't have anything to offer by ways of delivering Israel, and no one would have probably blamed him.
But in faith he stepped out and trusted in the Lord. God can take something as simple as our dominant hand and use that to change a nation. He is God, are we willing to obey?
The second thing that I find so fun and encouraging with this story in particular is that the Bible is so real. There is a realness to it. It is not scrubbed up religion. I am reminded that these are real people in this story. These real people had to do simple things that we often don't think of when we read scripture. Things like going to the bathroom, being overweight, being right-handed or left-handed, facing opposition, faithfully relying on God, and a whole list of other things that point to their humanity and the fact that these are not mythological super heros or people that are so far removed from us that we cannot relate to them.
What gifts have you been given that you have passed off as being irrelevant and unusable? Are you fighting against God right now in your faith? Have you explained to God that you are not the right person for the job he is calling you to? Could it be that God has gifted you with something as simple as being left handed for a reason? Spend some time today and this week asking God to show you in new ways how he has gifted you and then ask him to point you in the direction He has planned for you to use those gifts. Remember, God uses real people in the real world with real problems, and real gifts and talents to effect REALity.