March 24, 2016


Judges 13:8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”

Two things stand out to me in this prayer of Manoah. First, he trusted his wife. Had he not, he might have suspected that she had fallen for some mysterious stranger and was concocting this story to cover up in case she was pregnant (since infertility in a couple can come from either side). The second thing is that he really believed in God. That is evident from the fact that his prayer was not whether the boy would be born, but rather how to raise such a miraculous child. The Bible has many examples to show us that God likes that kind of faith. To me, the angel’s parenting instructions seem highly inadequate, but God knew in advance what Samson’s story would be, and that He was going to make use of both Samson’s strength and his weaknesses. I find Manoah’s faith all the more remarkable because he probably had very little basis for it. No more than the first six books of the Bible had been written, and the probability is very high that he was illiterate anyway. Nevertheless, he knew enough of the oral tradition of Israel to know that Yahweh was God indeed, and He could do miraculous things. That he knew how to sacrifice a burnt offering is another indication that he was devout; this was obviously not the first time he had done so – though he had never seen an angel ascend in the flames before! God takes us where we are and uses us, if we will yield ourselves to Him. Manoah himself was no special physical specimen, but God used him to father one of the physically strongest people in history. Genetics alone couldn’t account for it.

I have things to learn from Manoah. I have been blessed, both in nature and nurture, as they say, but as long as I am depending on that, nothing miraculous is going to happen. Miracles are by definition outside of human ability, so the more I focus on my ability the less likely I am to see miracles. I need to listen humbly to God to know His plans, and then not try to figure out how to make them happen in my strength, but rather ask Him what my part is to be in their coming to pass. God has given me a vision of Omura again becoming the foremost Christian city in Japan, actively advancing the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth. That is so impossible as to be preposterous, from the human standpoint, but that is all the more reason to believe it is God’s idea, because He will be the only explanation for it. I need to start asking God how I’m to act when it happens, rather than dismissing it as impossible.

Father, thank You for this reminder, this renewal of Your vision in me. We read the church vision in church every Sunday, but to a degree it has become just words to me. Forgive me. Help me actively anticipate what You are going to do, in no way depending on myself but being fully available and responsive to You for whatever You want to do through me. May all of Your plans, for me, for this church, for this city, and for this nation, be fulfilled in Your way on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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