Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.
Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelek. Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them. – Judges 8:28-35
Repent, rebuild, rebel, repeat. This seems to be the pattern for Israel, but it is eerily similar to my own walk with God. It is clear from the Gideon’s legacy and the long list of judges who ruled over Israel, that they had trouble staying on track with God. It really didn’t matter where the distraction came from; it was where it led them – disobedience.
Both of my girls struggle with distraction. They will be given clear and simple directions to accomplish a task, but a side trip inevitably ensues. A stop by mommy or daddy, depending on who gave the instructions, just to make sure the other one really meant what they said. A delay filled with questions and comments completely unrelated to the task at hand. I am reminded of the fantastically accurate depictions of this behavior in the comic strip, The Family Circus. One of the children by sent on a mission and the picture is a hash mark trail of everywhere he or she went instead of the original goal. Classic.
Our children can get on a spiritual hash mark trail without someone keeping them on task. It won’t always be us, but often it will be. We need to remind them of God’s promises. They need to be given a nudge now and again to get their eyes back on Jesus. They need encouragement when the world is bullying them into choices that will take them further from the will of God. They need us.
Israel was a child off track. They kept getting distracted by the ways of the world, and even though God gave them the direction, guidance and nudges to keep them on track. God never failed Israel, but Israel failed God again and again and again. This is the patient persistence of grace and love that should define parenthood.
Lord, help me to be like you toward my children. Give me the strength of will and heart of grace to love them without fail despite any detours they take in life. Let me be an instrument of guidance for my children to direct them to you again and again and again. Amen.