Deborah, in Judges 4-5, was a powerful leader. She was one of the judges of Israel during a particularly dark period in their history. For twenty long years, Sisera and his 900 chariots of iron had mightily oppressed the children of Israel.  Deborah said enough was enough. “My name might mean sweet ‘honeybee’ but don’t kid yourself; I’m no pushover. It is time for action!”

She and Barak, her five-star general, rallied many in Israel to fight against Sisera.  Sisera was defeated.  It was time to celebrate and sing.  Deborah composed the lyrics and was joined by General Barak in singing the Victory Song of praise to the Lord.  It would have been quite a duet!

Then Deborah and Barak … sang on that day, saying: “When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD! ” Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel. Judges 5:1-3

What stands out in the lyrics is the fact that in a time of crisis, some stepped forward to help, while others did not.  Men from the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulon, and Issachar were available. They joined the action and contributed whatever they could to the fight.  No big surprise – that was to be expected!

What cannot be missed in the lyrics is the record of those who knew about the need but contributed nothing. They were unavailable.  Reuben had great resolves, thoughts, searchings, and stirrings in his heart but stayed among the sheepfolds. (Judges 5:16) All talk – no action!!

Gad knew about the threats and the power of the enemy but chose not to cross the Jordan to help. Unavailable. He probably had some very, very legitimate excuse.

Dan was too busy in the shipping industry to participate. Wrong timing for him. Unavailable.

As for Asher – he loved the beaches. “Hey, man, I can’t interrupt my vacation at the seashore for something like that! Isn’t there a better time of year for a war? I’m unavailable just now. I’m getting some me-time.” (Judges 5:17)

God’s purposes still moved forward. Victory was achieved – God was not the loser. Who were the losers?  Those who chose not to participate – regardless of their reason.

It reminds us of the loss that will be experienced at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)  Is there an opportunity for me to be more involved in spiritual activities and responsibilities? Will my name be mentioned in a future day as being an ‘available’ believer – someone who did as much as he could for the Lord? Or, am I all talk, with great ideas but very little action? Is the sheepfold my comfort zone?

Gad’s excuse was the River Jordan. What obstacles block me? Am I too busy out on the high seas of the business world – unavailable at this stage of my life to pour more into the local fellowship? Or, too relaxed and cozy with my toes enjoying the hot sandy beaches every winter or summer?

Deborah’s song hi-lited the good and the bad. The Eternal Record doesn’t miss a thing. Does not gloss over the facts. Does not succumb to revisionist history of our lives. Does not embellish the reality of our lives and the choices we make. I will be the loser if I am unavailable, and if I don’t get involved and do all that the Lord has enabled me to do.

The happiest Christians are those who are available, involved, participating, and doing something constructive for the Lord. The most miserable ones are those who always have a good reason for their unavailability – the armchair advisers with all kinds of opinions, tons of ‘constructive’ criticism to offer and after-the-fact advice on how something should have been done – but they themselves rarely commit to wholeheartedly participating. I am crying out to the Lord to preserve me from earning such a sad distinction.

“Lord, give us the desire and the strength to be actively engaged in work that is of eternal significance – work that is important to You. Pry us out of our comfort zones, so we will be available for Your purposes.”

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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