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Let it be recorded

I may never write a book, but I am able to write a blog. A friend once asked me to write a book. The idea of having to put into words my life experiences almost intimidated me, not to mention the stories I have heard about getting a book edited and published. When I began to really think about it, I came to the realization we are all writing a book of sorts. We might call it the "book of decision" because each day is really a 'record' of the decisions we have made throughout that day. Each action we take is somehow "writing the next chapter" of our lives. Our response to today's events go a long way in determining the events of tomorrow, don't they? The events of one "chapter" open up many other chapters of victory or tragedy, gain or loss, celebration or grief for many more days to come. The same is true of our obedience - although it seems to us as less likely to affect as many or to be as profoundly impactful, each 'obedient choice' turns the page to another and another and another. 

And then the People of Israel were back at it again, doing what was evil in God's sight. God put them under the domination of the Philistines for forty years. At that time there was a man named Manoah from Zorah from the tribe of Dan. His wife was barren and childless. The angel of God appeared to her and told her, "I know that you are barren and childless, but you're going to become pregnant and bear a son. But take much care: Drink no wine or beer; eat nothing ritually unclean. You are, in fact, pregnant right now, carrying a son. No razor will touch his head—the boy will be God's Nazirite from the moment of his birth. He will launch the deliverance from Philistine oppression." (Judges 13:1-5 MSG)

Two groups are set before us today. The first is the People of Israel. The "chapter" they were writing was one of "being back at it again" - doing what was evil in God's sight - "pages" of their 'book of life' being filled with all manner of disobedience. Seems like a familiar chapter, does it not? We all can see ups and downs in the lives of the many people God brought out of Egypt - a people redeemed from slavery, but who so easily embrace the things God clearly told them to stay away from in the first place. Moments of close attention to the decisions which would be recorded in their "book" as moments of obedience, followed by moments of inattention which lent themselves to being recorded as "chapters" of disobedience, self-will, and significant compromise. When we see the 'page turn', we see a "new chapter" dawning for the nation - through the actions of one mother and father. Manoah and his wife would be instrumental in changing the course of a nation - by their simple and trusting obedience. As this couple were going about their normal routine, an angel of the Lord appears to them. No trumpets sounded announcing his arrival, or even revealing his identity. He just came in a simple way, almost unnoticed because of his "ordinary" appearance. I wonder how many chapters in our own lives have been opened in just such a manner? God coming to us in an "ordinary manner" - almost unnoticed for the significance of what he brings as that page begins to turn.

The woman was barren - unable to bare children. A tragedy by all accounts in the community in which she lived and worshiped. In fact, others may have looked upon her and made the assumption she was somehow not in right standing with God since she had not been blessed with any gift of life from her womb. Others may have been writing the "chapter of rejection" or "pages of judgment" in her book. God was going to change all this by one simple action of "opening" a new chapter for them! The angel announces they will have a son. They had a part to play - begin to nurture him well, even while he was in the womb, take great care of this blessing.  After he was born, they were to raise him as a devotee of God (a Nazarite). Indeed, a new chapter was dawning - simply by the actions of that one moment. Manoah and his wife were observed spending some time questioning the angel, wondering how this boy should be raised, trying to wrap their heads around it all. Still not recognizing this individual as an angel from God, they ask for his name. I wonder how many chapters of our book have been opened by God without us recognizing who was actually doing the "writing" upon our pages? Isn't it just like us to attempt to wrap our heads around 'stuff' so great like this and find ourselves more muddled than we were before any words began to be recorded upon the page?

At the very end of this chapter, we see the words, "The woman gave birth to a son. They named him Samson. The boy grew and God blessed him. The Spirit of God began working in him..." The boy grew and God blessed him. A new chapter was indeed being written for the nation of Israel. If you know anything at all about Samson, you know his life and actions were instrumental in delivering the nation from the hands of the Philistines - tremendously powerful, huge armies, mighty warriors. He was raised to be a "deliverer" for the entire nation. His life was to be dedicated to this purpose and each "chapter" written reveals the actions which God used to accomplish his purpose. I wonder how many chapters of our lives will be found to add up to a story of God's grace and actions within us which he uses for his glory? Probably more than we think, but what an awesome 'book' this will be! Don't discount the small decisions of today. They begin to write the pages of tomorrow in multiplied ways! Let God write upon your "page" today - it will be the beginning of a great chapter for tomorrow! Just sayin!

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