from Rachel: A Song in Your Thought Closet

The prophet Deborah led Israel when they were enslaved by a ruthless Canaanite king named Jabin (4:2). His military commander Sisera rode roughshod over the Hebrews for twenty years (4:3). Hearing from God that the time was right to throw off the chains of slavery, Deborah commanded her general, Barak (4:6), to muster his army. The plan was for him to lead a force of ten thousand men (4:6) while Deborah’s smaller force marched in plain sight of Sisera’s army, luring them, smack into Barak’s men! Deborah was ready to press on because she had heard from God himself. Barak, however, wasn’t so sure (4:8). And can we blame him?

Describe such a “battle” or experience in your life that made or makes you want to give up:

With many household chores, and sometimes even this, and other studies, once I get a couple of weeks or a couple of days, (respectively) behind, it can feel too daunting to even want to begin to try to catch up.

One of the reasons for Barak’s concern could have been what is noted in Judges 5:8. What is it?

“They chose new gods… not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.”

In the battle over your thoughts and self-talk, what kind of weapons do you have (2 Corinthians 10:4)?

“We have weapons which ‘have divine powers to demolish strongholds.’”

What does Ephesians 6:17 say is your best offensive weapon?

“the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”

Instead, Judges 4:9 says the victory would be credited to a “woman” (hum the Rocky theme song here)

In Judges 5:21, what does Deborah confidently sing to her soul?

“‘March on, my soul; be strong!’”

What are some songs you do or can sing to your soul to help you persevere and keep hope alive?

“‘Bless the Lord, O my soul…’”
“‘It is well’”
“‘A Mighty Fortress’”
“‘Blessed Assurance’”
“‘How Great Thou Art’”
“‘Better Is One Day’”

What does Numbers 16:8-11 tell you about their patriarch Korah?

“Apparently he wanted to take the priesthood from Aaron and his descendants.”

What was his role?

“He was a Levite who worked at the tabernacle and ministered to the people.”

What was his grievance?

“He wanted to take Aaron’s job. (Perhaps his grievance in one word was a cry of ‘Nepotism’?)”

How were Korah and his comrades described in Numbers 16:24-25? “26, actually”

“Wicked men”

What happened in Numbers 16:32-33?

“The earth opened and swallowed them all, even wives and little ones.”

Now turn to Numbers 26:10-11. What fate did the sons of Korah meet?

“Apparently not all died because it says, ‘the line of Korah, however, did not die out.’”

What would the world be lacking if I quit?

“A home full of fun and warm hospitality.”

What would I show my family by giving up?

“that my selfish pursuits of fun and other peoples’ needs of my time are more important than they are.”

What am I settling for if I choose to give in when it gets tough?

“a house that steadily gets messier and more disheveled with each passing year rather than improved.”

Rephrase the following verses of Psalm 84 into lyrics you can sing to your soul.

Verse 1 – “I can scarcely imagine how glorious God’s throne room is.”
Verse 2 – “I eagerly look forward to being there to worship Him in person.”
Verse 4 – “Many people I have known are already there and are blessed.”
Verse 5 – “As we wait in this world, He gives me strength.”
Verse 7 – “We get strength to wait until that glorious homegoing.”
Verse 10 – “Better one day or a servant’s job there than years or great power anywhere else.”
Verse 11 – “God will give me all I need and more.”
Verse 12 – “I am blessed to trust in God.”

Dearest Rachel –

With every entry in this particular study, I seem to see references to your battle against the mess of the house. Ellen has told me about her perspective on the situation that you saw as growing out of control, but felt like you had to take on your way, which was often like bringing a flyswatter to a swordfight. No wonder you felt like giving up – and maybe, for all intents and purposes, you did, by the end (although I’m sure it never crossed your mind that the end was upon you). At the same time, I’m sure you might have taken issue with the extreme measures I took in order to get this place in order – granted, some of those moves would have not been nearly as radical were you around simply because you would have needed clothes. For all that I want to think that you would have forgiven me for all I felt I had to do, I can’t claim that absolution with 100% certainty.

All that is water under the bridge at this point. I’ve done what I’ve thought I needed to – and gotten caught flat-footed from time to time because of it – and the results speak for themselves. You’re not here to condemn me for what I’ve done, nor are you here to insist that this or that thing needs to stay. And if you were, I might point out that I’m no longer settling for giving in, even if that might spur an argument that I spent our lives together avoiding.

But let’s set that aside; your take on the Psalm of the sons of Korah – who lost their father (or ancestor) to a rebellion against the Lord’s chosen priest (although, we can at the same time acknowledge Aaron’s own faults in his office), and thus might be understandably bitter toward the Lord – strikes surprisingly close to home. You don’t speak of the Temple in your descriptions (which I guess comes to mind more than it usually would simply because of having just been there less than a month ago) so much as you do of heaven, and essentially God’s New Jerusalem, which will be infinitely better than the current one we’ve just visited. The fact that you’re there, and the observations you write down here about not being able to imagine the place, and looking forward to being there, worshiping Him, and seeing those you’d known from before, feel like they are directed at me, and everyone who misses you down here. One day, we will see what you’re seeing and join in with the song you’re singing to Him. What a day it will be, and what a thing to look forward to!

Until then, Lord, give us the strength to endure that You promised and offered to Your servants before us!

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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