The Turning Point

Judges 6:6-8a, “So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord. Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian, that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel,…”

So, there I am. Sitting on the couch. Minding my own business. Trying to watch some “Iron Man.” That’s when I first hear it. The sound. At first it seems like background noise, maybe something in the movie. It does seem vaguely familiar but I just can’t place it. I press mute and the room is filled with silence. Shrugging my shoulders I go back to the movie. Hardly a minute passes and then the sound returns. My previous curiosity is now giving way to aggravation. I hit mute again but this time the sound continues. Determined to put an end to this interruption, I get up and start following the noise to its source and hopefully to its explanantion. All the way through the house I trek. Down the hall and into the last bedroom. And there I find the source of the noise.

Laying curled up in a ball on the floor is my youngest child. My 7-year-old son. He is sitting in front of the Wii, controller tossed on the floor, tears streaming down his face. From the color of his cheeks and the lines on his face it is obvious that he has been crying hard and crying long. My aggravation immediately melts into compassion. I walk over to him, kneel down and ask him why he’s crying. Through sobs he informs me that he can’t complete the current level. “Daddy, I can’t do it.” I sit down next to him, pick up the controller, and begin working my way through a Lego re-creation of the Stars Wars universe. As I play his sobs subside, the tears stop and out of the corner of my eye I watch as a smile begins to creep across his face. Finishing the level, I turn to him, and hand him the controller once again. His response? A gigantic hug that reminds me once again of the priceless joy that comes from being a father. As I get up and prepare to head back to the living room, I reach down and pat him on the head, leaving him with the following words, “Will, next time you get stuck and need help don’t sit back here crying. Just come get me.”

For 7 long years Israel had cried. The Midianites had decimated the harvest. The enemies of God’s people had devastated the land. Stubbornly clinging to their sin and rebellion, the Israelites sought refuge in the caves and dens in the mountains. I wonder how many late nights they lay on that cold stone floor, crying themselves to sleep, the salt of their tears only serving to remind them of the gnawing ache in their bellies? 7 years is a long time to walk in rebellion. 7 years is a long time to lay in a cave crying. And yet, that is how the story begins. Tragedy and tears.

But then the people of God reached a turning point. They moved from simply crying to crying out to their Father. The text is clear. “…when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord…” Sadly, they had done a lot of crying. But now they began to become intentional. For the first time in a long time they turned back toward the One they had neglected. Sobbing was now mingled with supplication. Hollering at God was transformed into asking for help. Self-pity gave way to prayer. Yes, there were still plenty of tears. But the difference is that now they had to decided to go running back to the Father instead of remaining in the caves of their sin and shame.

Now, here’s the thing that simply amazes me. The people were the ones who had walked in rebellion. They were the ones who had abandoned God. They were the ones who had chosen to worship things other than Him. And yet, despite all their past, in spite of all their spiritual baggage, God hears their cry and helps them. I hope that encourages you today. His grace is greater than your failures. His sacrifice on the cross is sufficient no matter your sin. His love knows no limits. His mercy knows no bounds.

Are you longing for change in your life? It’s really not that difficult. Just cry out to the Father. No, things didn’t change overnight for Israel. There were still idols that had to be removed, an enemy that had to be faced, and battles that had to fought. But don’t miss the point of verses 6-8. The turning point in this story was when the people began to cry out to God. He heard and He intervened. They stopped crying in the back room and went to the Father for help. That same possibility is available to each and every one of us. Things can be different. Life can be different. God is just waiting for you to start crying… to Him.