Adam, at five years of age, had just learned to ride his bicycle without training wheels. After only two fifteen-minute sessions, he felt sufficiently adept to venture out on his own. I watched with a certain amount of parental pride as he went tearing down the sidewalk; nevertheless, I found it hard to explain why, with two-and-a-half feet of sidewalk, and with a broad cushion of grass on the south side, he still insisted on crashing into the fence on the north side. Off he’d go, talking at the top of his lungs, first hailing me to watch, next excoriating his bike for failing to stay upright; then, he’d crash into the fence or the hedge, pick himself up, examine his scrapes and bruises, and start all over again.
Weeks later, I still had not tired of watching him ride his bicycle. Oh, I knew it was something nearly every child does. Nevertheless, it gave me great satisfaction to see his accomplishment. As I took pleasure in Adam’s achievement, I couldn’t help thinking of the Lord: He is like that. He takes pleasure in our accomplishments. He rejoices when we are victorious. He delights in our faith and obedience.
Have you read the Song of Solomon lately to recall what love the Bridegroom has for his Bride? “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace” (Song 4:9). “Turn your eyes away from me, for they have confused me” [i.e., “overcome” me; cf., Ex. 32:10]. Do you recall that David was called a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22)? And can you believe that the Lord spoke without satisfaction when He asked Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil?” (Job 1:8).
I know that these were great men of God, and we feel that the Lord had a reason to be pleased with them. But what of Barak, the fifth judge of Israel? The Lord commanded him to lead an army of ten thousand soldiers against Sisera, “the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops” (Jud. 4:7b). Then the Lord promised: “and I will give him into your hand” (v. 7c). But Barak was so cowardly of character and so weak in faith that he ran sniveling to the prophetess Deborah and whined: “If you will go with me, then I will go; but it you will not go with me, I will not go” (v. 8). Deborah agreed to go, but she assured Barak that the honor in battle would go to a woman. And so it did. Barak fought and routed Sisera, who fled in fear to the tent of Jael. Jael encouraged Sisera to rest, and while he slept, she drove a tent peg through his temple and into the ground. End of Sisera; end of battle. It would be difficult to imagine a man so cowardly that he would insist on having a woman hold his hand as he went into battle. Nevertheless, Barak finally did the Lord’s bidding. And do you know what? Barak’s name appears in the list men of faith found in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews! Barak was fearful, but what of Samson? Courageous, yes, but carnal in the extreme. Nevertheless, he was a man of faith, and his name, too, appears in Hebrews, chapter eleven.
Am I encouraging you to be weak and sinful? No, on the contrary, I am encouraging us all to be faithful to the Lord. If a Samson or a Barak could please the Lord, so can we. Though we owe the Lord full faith and obedience, still, He is pleased when we believe and obey Him. The Lord loves His children. He rejoices in our accomplishments; He encourages our small steps of faith, our stumbling endeavors, our weak acts of charity. Don’t wait for a “great” opportunity to please the Lord—it will never come. Begin today. Begin now with the small things, the seemingly insignificant ones. Samson and Barak were not included by mistake; the Word of God does not lie. Despite their weak and vacillating flesh, they exhibited a faith and obedience that pleased the Lord. Get on the bicycle. You will get some bruises and scratches, but, shortly, you will be riding. And the Lord will beam with joy.
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