In my devotions this morning, I read a short sentence that I has stayed with me all day. It comes from the book of Judges, chapter three, verse 12. This is the beginning of the story of Samson, one I have known since before I could read it myself. Manoah and his wife had been unable to have children. An angel appeared to Manoah’s wife and told her that she would soon give birth to a son. He would become an important figure in the history of his people, so the angel gave her explicit directions as to how he would be raised. I imagine she was a bit unsure about this visit. Had the angel been real? Was it a dream? Scripture tells us she ran to her husband. Looking at the punctuation mark at the end of her first sentence, I concluded that she was excited. Her husband, on the other hand, was a bit doubtful, so he asked the Lord to let the angel call on them again.
Here is where the story grabbed my attention this morning. The Lord answered that request, and the angel returned. Manoah had some honest questions for his visitor. He started the dialogue with a request for identification: “Are you the man who talked to my wife the other day”? When the angel assured Manoah he was that man, His next words are the ones that grabbed my attention. “WHEN YOUR WORDS COME TRUE, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life?”
It would be natural for Manoah to ask for clarification about the unusual child-rearing method his wife had reported. One would think he might request that information first, but he didn’t. I can imagine myself in Manoah’s place. I might wonder if angels pull pranks on mortals. I might ask the “why me” question. I know myself well enough to guarantee I would ask him if he was sure he had the right person. Here is the thing that sets Manoah apart from a mortal like me: he did not ask. He simply stated. He could have asked many questions, and the world would be none the wiser. Those five words were an expression of his great faith.
That phrase has forced me to ask a few questions of my own. What kind of faith do I have? How well do I express that faith to God? How well do I exhibit my faith to others? For most of us, these past weeks have been the most uncertain of all our days. We have no idea when life will return to normal. The news is rarely encouraging. We have had it! We are longing to be with family and friends. I am missing my church family more than you might imagine! If we can be honest, our faith is being assaulted right now. Our patience is wearing thin. We are doing a lot of asking, and fear is forcing our faith to the back seat. But my story is not stopping with those words.
Here is my take-away from the Word I read this morning: God has promised to take care of us. He has promised to keep us under the protection of his sheltering wings. It is not for us to ask the why and how questions. God wants us to remember His promises and then say, like Manoah, “When your words come true”. We will get through this. When we do, we will look back and see at every step that God kept us.
From where I sit, there is a lot to learn from Mr. Manoah.