Deborah: A Life Well Lived
Today we're discussing someone pretty inspiring. She was a smart, successful, honest lady living a God-centred life even in the midst of chaos and conflict. If, like me, these are qualities that you are constantly pursuing yet never-quite-managing, read on my friend! Rachel has written a great post for us today, reminding us of God's sovereignty and grace over our lives, how we can be girls of integrity in light of this... all glory is His.
There’s someone I want to introduce to you. She’s called Deborah. No, it’s not your Auntie Debs. Nor Ms ‘I’m a straight talking business tycoon’ Meaden. And I promise I haven’t roped in that friend of your Mum’s who insists on liking everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook.
Meet Deborah: the prophetess and only female Judge of Israel. She prefers being called Debbie. She likes a good poem, chocolate covered raisins, fairy lights and late night conversations (you know, the ones where afterwards you act as if they never happened but are so glad they did).
We find Deborah in Judges 4 and 5, at a time when ‘there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes’ and King Jabin of the Canaanites cruelly and violently ruled the people of Israel. She led Israel from under a palm tree where ‘Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided’.
She’s known for having to go with Barack, the military leader, into battle against the Canaanites because, although God had told him they would win, he didn’t trust they’d defeat such a large army. He only agreed to go if Deborah went with him and, though disappointed in Barack’s lack of faith, Deborah knew it was God’s will and agreed to go. Due to Deborah’s unfaltering trust in God’s promise, the Israelites won against all the odds.
Deborah’s a woman of uncompromising integrity, justice, sensitive honesty and faithfulness to God’s will.
Over the past week I’ve learnt so much from her - I hope you are as inspired by her character as I’ve been.
Sensitive honesty is something I admire in anyone, and Deborah is no different. When Barack refused to go without her she could’ve been, like, ‘It’s cool, I know it can be hard to trust God, I’ll come with you and if we win, I’ll pretend it was down to you’.
Instead, she explained that ‘because of the course you are taking, the honour will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ As a Judge she had to ‘real talk’ with those she was leading, and yet she did it with a sensitivity that would encourage compliance and compromise.
Sometimes we can kid ourselves that being Christian and loving others is all about being nice. ‘If I’m really nice they’ll see Jesus at work in my life’ or ‘If they see how nice I am they might ask me why I’m so nice and then I can tell them about Jesus’. Following Jesus is not about being nice, it’s far more about being real.
Let’s say what we mean. Let’s be what we say. Let’s be women of integrity.
If we are to follow Deborah’s example of leadership we need to see that being nice isn’t always the most loving option. Nice is faking a ‘you look fine’. Honest is ‘Your mascara’s smudged, I’ll wipe it off for you’. Nice is ‘Life following God is easy and perfect, I’m always happy and everything goes the way I want it’. Honest is ‘Life with God is life to the full, it’s real and raw and tough, but being in a relationship with Him is worth it all’.
A friend said to me recently, ‘you are most effective for God’s kingdom when you are doing something you love'. God has given you skills, abilities and talents for a reason. He wants you to use them to build his kingdom; it would be a waste not to. We can sometimes kid ourselves that certain talents are more important in serving God than others. We get jealous of what others can do. But God wants YOU to use what YOU have been given. No one has the same skill set to use, in the same situation as you. No one can make the same impact you can. It’s like when the apostle Paul says…
‘For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.’ (Romans 12: 4-6)
Deborah used the gifts she had as directed by God to serve Him completely. She didn’t keep her gifts to herself but used them to glorify God and bring His will to the Israelites. I bet as she sat, writing her poem, she didn’t think it would feature in the Scriptures and go on to inspire millions of women.
Who knows how God will use the gifts He’s given you? If you never try them out, you’ll never see how He does.
Yet above all her remarkable gifts, hers was the victory because of a heart and mind that was fixed on God and His will for the Israelites. She was careful to voice God’s will and not her own, resolving disputes not with political and judicial motives but God’s. Barack didn’t want her by his side because of her beautiful poems or her ability to resolve arguments about sheep. He recognised how strong Deborah’s relationship with God was; with her by their side, God’s presence would be with them also.
And after the battle was won, Deborah gave the credit straight back to God – not placing the victory down to her abilities as a leader, but to God’s faithfulness and ability to do the impossible.
How often do we pray for God to help us and make things a success and then take the credit when they go well? I, for one, am guilty.
Deborah is one of those people I read about and think: ‘you do life so well’. She has qualities I’d love to see in my own life, and a character that is so firmly built on glorifying God. So how can I develop her character in my own life? How do I hear God’s voice as clearly as she did?
Spend time with Him. Read the Bible. Pray. Listen to others. Listen to Him. Worship. Seek His face.
Like most things, the more you practice, the better you become, and the more you spend time with someone the more you get to know them. In your busy life, set aside time to spend with God. Ask Him to help you develop a character of integrity, honesty and strength, and to show you how you can best use the gifts He has blessed you with.
Rachel’s currently an A-level student and CU leader at Hills Road Sixth Form College. With no set plans for the future she’s open (and a little nervous) to what God brings her way and is excited to be discovering how He might use her baking skills in the next few years. She loves daffodils, cold rice pudding, walks along windy beaches, eating cake for breakfast, the smell of coffee, writing her baking blog http://www.icecreamintherain.com/ and meeting people living wholeheartedly for Jesus.
PS: We'd just like to say that Rachel's baking blog is probably one of the most beautiful sites we've ever seen...dangerous to read if you're hungry!