Judges 2:16-23 (Part 2) – How Taylor, Without Knowing It, Is Teaching Me About God’s Grace

Posted: July 31, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 2:16-23 (Part 2)
The Lord Rescues His People

Since the end of my second marriage in the summer of 2004, one of the things that I did was to really go overboard in re-establishing the relationship with my daughters, particularly with my youngest daughter, Taylor. My oldest daughter had come to live with me and my second wife in 2001 so we had begun reconstructing our relationship to a certain extent. However, my younger daughter had remained living with her mom and when she came to my home for visitations it was still almost like she wasn’t there and then I only did the bare minimum of communication, of support and so on. At least with my oldest daughter, she was living with us and by her mere presence demanded recognition. But even then, I was not the father to either one of them that I should have been while I was married to my second wife.

After my second marriage ended, I spent a great deal of time spoiling my girls to make up for what had happened to our relationship during my second marriage. Meghan, my oldest, was already starting her sophomore year at Clemson but Taylor was a sophomore in high school by this time so there were the every other weekend visitations still with her. Taylor got to experience a lot of spoiling on these weekends. Whatever she wanted she got. Being the only child that chose to stay with her mother, she also got very spoiled on a day to day basis at home with her mom. She took full advantage as any child would. Taylor had no incentive to work as she was handed everything by her mother at home and by me as her non-custodial dad. In fact, Taylor did not get a job until her senior year in high school and even then it was part time. She was so spoiled that she decided to quit her seeking of a post-high school education after one brief semester at a local technical school near her home. It was too much work. Although Taylor is almost brilliant in the ease at which school came to her, she never wanted to work too hard at it. After working several years part time she finally got a full-time job as a customer service rep at a regional pest control company. All the while, I continued to spoil her in certain ways. One of which was keeping her on my cellular telephone plan without asking her to pay her share and I continued to give her money any time she asked for it.

Finally, I began to see that she was abusing the privilege of the phone and running up these huge data usage amounts that would often send me over my data limit. We began having arguments about it and I warned her repeatedly that I was going to cut her off my plan. This was the beginning of the disaster that has become our relationship. I had raised what had become a child that meets the classic definitions of the millennial crowd – the generations of American youth who had a sense of entitlement because they had never been forced to work or do without or sacrifice.

In the midst of all this brewing discord between me and my youngest daughter, her mother, my first wife, passed away at one month shy of turning 55 years old in July 2015. Within a month of her mother’s death, Taylor had quit her job and she has not returned to the workforce (at least not that I know of). Within a few months after her quitting her job, she and I got into a big argument about when she was going to be ready to start working again. Since that time I have barely seen her. Since that time, the only time that she begins conversations with me is when she has a financial crisis. She and her boyfriend live this hand to mouth existence but yet when things get out of hand financially she starts talking to me. So tired of this cycle of silence and awakening of our relationship when she needed something after over a year of saying that I would finally cut the final apron string of her cell phone in November 2016. After that, I did not here from her again until February 2017 when she needed money again. The tears flowed like a river that day and I paid to a four figure sum to get the power and water turned back on at the house she inheritied from her mom. She promised to have a relationship again at that point and she promised to pay me back for the assistance and she said she was looking for a job. It was another con job. I have not heard from her since. She has returned to incommunicado mode. Because of the ongoing war about (1) moving on from her mother’s death, (2) getting a full-time job, (3) living a responsible life (4) going to college, and (5) having a normal relationship with me, the last two years of this rift between Taylor and me, she has not been around any family events in the life of our family including the birth and first birthday party of her niece and my granddaughter, Ralyn. Birthdays of her sister, her granddad, Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name the family event, she has skipped it without even as much as a phone call. As of this writing, though I have texted and asked her to get in touch with me on numerous occasions and even went by her house about six weeks ago, I have not heard from my youngest child in five and half months. Nothing. No communications. She got what she wanted and returned to the veil of silence. For all the teary-eyed talk back in February at the Pizza Inn in Duncan, SC, and the taking of the assistance that I gave her to get her out of a jam with her utilities, I have heard nothing. Silence.

It was my relationship with my youngest daughter that I thought of this morning and how it is similar to the way that Israel is portrayed in this passage. Let’s read through it and I will connect dots after we do. Let’s read it together now:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges,[a] who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

In this passage, we see that despite Israel’s disobedience, God showed them great mercy by raising up judges to save the people from their oppressors. Mercy can be defined as “not giving a person what they deserve.” This is exactly what God did for Israel and what He does for us as His children. Our disobedience demands judgment. But God shows mercy toward us by providing an escape from the final judgment of our sins in Jesus Christ. He alone can save us from the real and final consequences of our sins when we meet our judgment. When we earnestly come to Jesus realizing that we are painfully aware of our sins and the judgment that they will bring us and ask for forgiveness and the intervention of the covering of our sins by Jesus Christ we are asking for that which we do not even come close to deserving. Yet, when we come to Christ with an humbled heart and ask Him to be our Savior from our sins and to be the Lord over our life, we experience release from judgment by grace through faith.

The reason that I thought about Taylor when I read this passage is that because of this situation with her that I really have come to understand the love that God has for us and the grace that He gives us that is undeserved. I understand God’s love for us because of my love for my daughter, Taylor. No matter what she does to thumb her nose up at me and no matter how she blames me for her problems, I still love her. If she walked in my door right now, I would hug her and tell her that I love her. This fight she has with me is because she has created it in her mind. It is not because I do not love her. I do love her. I love her no less now than I did when our relationship was good and when I was showering her with blessings. I do allow her to suffer the consequences of her own actions now, but I do nonetheless love her. That’s a view of God’s grace to Israel and to us. No matter how distant my daughter becomes from me, I still love her and still would exchange my life for hers if it ever came to that. That’s the grace she, by all rights, does not deserve. She uses me to get what she wants and then she ignores me. Sounds like Israel. Sounds like us when it comes to God. Grace means love despite actions that deserve something other than love. Grace means deserving condemnation but getting love.

Through my yearning for having a normal relationship again with my youngest daughter, but her shaking her fist at me in defiance, I know can begin to understand the love of God for us. We shake our fist at him in defiance and we do not deserve His love. We deserve His judgment. We deserve anything but love. But He loves us anyway. He gives us Jesus. Through Jesus, through God’s love for us, we can restore our relationship with Him. Just as if Taylor walked through my door right now, she would be loved and accepted and no condemnation would be given for barely speaking to me these past two years. It is because of love that God remained faithful to Israel despite her defiance. That’s a parent’s love for a child. That’s God’s love for us.

Amen and Amen.

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