"And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah... in mount Ephraim....'"
Judges 4: 5
King James Version
"The incredible gift of the ordinary! Glory comes streaming from the table of daily life."
How would I define the word "ordinary?"
"Freshness trembles beneath the surface of everyday, a joy perpetual to all who catch its opal lights beneath the dust of habit."
"...But God has shown and taught me by words that I should not call any human being common...."
Acts 10: 28
I love old movies. Especially musicals. Right near the top of the list is the hopelessly romantic movie Gigi, which takes place in the city of Paris, France. The movie, while a love story, really has, at its core, class warfare. Gigi, who is seen by the debonair and wealthy Gaston as a common little girl, ends up becoming the beautiful swan.
There's one scene in the picture which will always amuse me. Gaston takes the young and innocent Gigi to an ice-skating arena to meet his current girlfriend, Liane, played by the gorgeous Eva Gabor. Gaston asks Gigi what she thinks of his girlfriend, and with her nose in the air, Gigi dismissively says, "Common, she's so common." Of course, this outspoken response from someone Gaston thinks is below his social and economic level has an air of hilarity to it.
How often, do we look on others and question their worthiness? Or perhaps, we do just the opposite, and show our own insecurities by calling another person an elitist just because their educational or economic stature is higher than our own.
As we begin our look at the life of Deborah, a prophetess of God who was called to be a Judge in Israel, I believe it would do us well to look at the qualifications God looked for on the resumé of the leaders He chose to guide His children.
We will start by going back to Genesis and considering Noah. For 120 years he built a boat. He worked with his hands as a carpenter. Just think of how people may have scoffed at the idea that it took 120 years to build a big, wooden ship. Noah wasn't just ordinary. Some might label him eccentric.
Then there was Moses. After 40 years in training in Pharaoh's court, if I had been on God's search committee for a leader, I would have thought Moses was just right. Instead God sent this worldly trained young man out into the desert wilderness of Midian for a 40-year training session on herding sheep. Nothing extraordinary here. When God finally came to get Moses for the job of leading His children from Egypt to Canaan, Moses had a list of reasons a mile long, as to why he was unqualified for the task. For beginners, he had a sordid past. Second, he couldn't talk well. And last, he didn't have the proper connections. He was way too ordinary for the job!
Now we come to the book of Judges. Joshua had died, and God's children were like wandering sheep without a shepherd. To help these "leaderless" waifs, God raised up "Judges" or as the Hebrew notes, governors who brought reason and judgment to the issues of the day. For 40 years the people had peace under the leadership of Othniel, a judge and the husband of Caleb's daughter, Achsah. Seems her father, Caleb, did a wonderful job picking out a Godly man for his daughter.
Unfortunately, the record of Judges 3 and 4 is a revolving door of following God and falling away from God. Then in Judges 4, we find the second woman in Scripture who is called a prophetess, Deborah, whom God blessed as the Judge at that time.
Just who was this "extraordinary" woman? Well, the Bible tells us she was a wife whose husband was named Lapidoth. Now the translation "Eset lapidot" can be translated, "wife of Lapidot," but it can also mean, "woman of torches." Some Biblical scholars call Deborah, the "torch-lady." I like to think of Deborah as a lady who radiated light in a world of darkness. This was something an "ordinary" person could do.
As we see from the work of the Judges chosen by God, it wasn't their "extraordinary" abilities that placed them in a position of leadership. It was their "ordinary" ability to take what was seen as "common" and use it for "extraordinary" means. A torch. A light. Something that was used every day, put into the hands of one of God's daughters became the tool to shine extraordinary beams of the light of God's presence into the lives of His children.
So I ask you, "Do you feel ordinary? Regular? Common? Unfit for a heavenly task?"
Hang on, for the wisest man who lived, Solomon, says that God loves "giving prudence to the simple and knowledge, discretion and discernment to the young." What's more, those who think they know-it-all can learn wisdom from our Heavenly Father and "the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel, so that (she) may be able to steer (her) course rightly" (Proverbs 1: 3-5, Amplified Bible).
Out of the "ordinary" comes the "extraordinary" when infused by the power of Heaven.
If you think you are too ordinary and common to be called by God, think again. For it is our ordinariness that God longs to use if we will let Him. And who knows how God will use His daughters, with lighted-torches in their hands, to dispel the darkness in this world.
"It is easy to deny the nobility of something just because it mingles with our earthly clay."
"O Lord Jesus Christ
who called ordinary people from their daily work
saying to them, 'come ye after Me,'
may Your children today hear Your voice
and gladly answer Your call
to give their lives to You.
to offer their gifts
and give away their hearts to You only.
Bless our hopes
the first tiny stirrings of desire
the little resolve to go forward,
the small vision of what might be.
Deal gently with our fears
the hesitation of uncertainty
the darkness of the unknown
the lack of confidence in our own capacity
and may we turn it all to trust in You."