On Wednesday, I was really saddened to hear of the death of Marie Colvin, a well-known foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times in London. In the same attack the French photographer, Remi Ochlik, was also killed. Later I heard Marie’s mother briefly interviewed on the news and she spoke of her daughter as being very passionate about what she did, even when it was very difficult and dangerous. She said, “Her legacy is: Be passionate and be involved in what you believe in. And do it as thoroughly and honestly and fearlessly as you can.”[i] Those who knew her well talk about how she was a kind and caring person who was always ready to mentor younger colleagues in the business.[ii] She was certainly brave, intelligent, and determined to communicate to the world the atrocities of war and the resulting human suffering. She was a champion for the innocent victims who had no voice.
What causes so many journalists, like Marie, to continually place themselves in such volatile environments, exposing themselves to the brutality and ruthless disregard for human life and dignity? Where do they find the courage and strength to surge forward into places that threaten their own personal safety? Are they really as fearless as they appear in the media, or when they lay down for a few minutes of rest do they wrestle with the same feelings of insecurity as you and me?
I’m not sure about them, but there is one woman in the Bible who really inspires me with her courage and willingness to put her life and reputation on the line. She was highly respected and a person of great influence. This is evidenced by the fact that her own people regularly came to her for advice and to settle disputes. They obviously knew they could trust her to make fair decisions. She was the only woman mentioned in the Old Testament who held the distinguished position of a judge. We find part of her story in Judges 4 and 5. Her name – Deborah.
We do know she was married but no children are mentioned. Her devotion to God was undeniable and she received a special message from Him. This passage of Scripture also calls her a prophetess and in that role, she was passionate about not only hearing God’s message but communicating it to others and seeing that his commands were carried out. At the time of this account, the Israelites had been under the oppression of the Canaanites for twenty years. The commander of the Canaanite army was Sisera, a cruel leader who led an entourage of nine hundred iron chariots – talk about intimidation and fear!
Even though Deborah held a highly influential position among the Israelites as a judge and prophet, she was primarily their spiritual and moral leader. However, when the injustice of her people reached an all-time high and they cried to the Lord for help, she did not hesitate to lead a military endeavor, inspired by the God of Israel. She immediately called for Barak, a man who was probably a military leader of good standing. It is not clear of his position in relationship to Deborah’s, but her decision to work closely with others to accomplish the task speaks well of her leadership style. She was a take-charge woman, but willingly employed the expertise of other people and was ready to stand with them and support them on the front lines.
When Barak came before Deborah she said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera…with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” (4:6-7) This was to be the Lord’s war – a holy war in the biblical sense that it was God who would fight for His people as they trusted in Him for victory.
Deborah’s strict obedience to God’s commands motivates me to think about how I handle the challenges that come my way. Do I readily and willingly obey what He reveals to me through His Word, or do I try and solve the problem my way and with my own limited wisdom and understanding? Am I open to seeking the advice of other mature believers in Christ and working together with them to see something through? Good food for thought this week!
Until next Sunday,