“So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The Lord is a father and the people of Israel were His children. (He’s also a bridegroom and they were His bride which is kind of an odd mixing of metaphors, but both are nonetheless appropriate at different times to describe our relationship with Him.) When they refused to stay on the path down which He was leading them, He disciplined them. What this summary description of how the rest of the book of Judges is going to go reveals is that once the people were settled in the land they struggled mightily with faithfulness.
Indeed, one of the most difficult times we often face when it comes to our journeys following Jesus is when things are steady and normal. In the routine and mundane of everyday life it is easy to forget the Lord and lean back into old superstitions and habits as we navigate the daily trials.
When we are in an extraordinary time, faithfulness is often easy. Tensions are high and we feel like we aren’t going to make it without the Lord. We lean in close in those times.
But when things are back to normal and we’re drifting along fairly peacefully, that’s when the real challenges come. Faithfulness in the mundane is the trick.
There are many good tips, tricks, and strategies to achieving this. Reading some of the spiritual classics can give us wisdom. Practicing the spiritual disciplines on which there are many good books both old and new is a great help. In particular, making certain we have a daily quiet time in the Scriptures (which does not have to be long–intentionality is the key) and an open dialogue with God through prayer are supremely helpful.
We should know this, though: If we decide to pursue a path of sin and stick with it, our God will use discipline to call us back to righteousness just as He did with Israel here. And often, the discipline He uses first and most is to allow us to experience the natural consequences of our sinful choices. That’s what He did with Israel. They wanted to go after the gods of the peoples around them and not rely on Him and His abiding help, then they could try it on their own. Of course, it went badly for them and fairly quickly got their attention. It usually will with us too. This is not a path we want to take if we can help it–and we can help it as we lean into the Spirit’s help.
When life gets normal and boring, lean into God the hardest. This is where you’ll find some of the greatest joy you’ll ever know.