It was a hot, sunny afternoon. I was trudging down the sidewalk, making my way from my home to the Walmart around the corner, where I had a summer job.
I’m sure it will come as a huge surprise that I was not excited. I was not looking forward to my shift, my day, or the rest of the summer.
I watched a white sedan pull out of the suburban neighborhood across the street from Walmart. I imagined what it would be like to be in that car, to be that person. I imagined them as having stuffed a sandwich in their mouth, jogged out the door and into their car. I imagined them watching their garage door close before pulling off.
Later, I thought, they’ll come home to their kids. They’ll make dinner, help them with homework. They’ll go to sleep. And then they’ll do the same thing tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that.
And then I realized that was my future. Wasn’t it? Get a job, get married, have kids, and complete the same cycle, day after day, month after month, year after year?
Suddenly I had a pit in my stomach.
Everywhere you look around the world you find routines. You find the mundane. The quotidian, the everyday grind. Even in the Bible, in the arguably exciting book of Judges, Israelite leaders lived and died and lived and died and lived and died in a seemingly endless, unsurprising cycle.
And the same is true today. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or if you’re poor. It doesn’t matter where you live or where you’re from. It doesn’t make a difference how many cutely stitched videos are uploaded to Tiktok, or picturesque landscapes are posted on Instagram – every single person wakes, eats, works or plays, sleeps, and repeats.
The cycle continues on and on until, slowly, you lose energy, and slowly, you fizzle out, leaving behind billions of other people who will wake, eat, work and play, sleep, and then repeat.
And for what? Did the four rulers mentioned in Judges 12 kill their countrymen, marry off their kids, and prance around on their donkeys for nothing? For a vaguely interesting show that ultimately utterly ended?
My heart shrinks from that. All of our hearts collectively shrink from the idea that our cyclical, yet difficult lives mean nothing and accomplish nothing that will last.
So we turn to faith. Whether it’s faith in a God, in Satan, in a political figure, in science, in a partner, or in ourselves, we hang on to something. We choose to believe in something. We choose something to give our lives purpose and meaning, something to make our daily cycles more than just waking, eating, working…
But is manufactured meaning really meaning? In the end, do we have anything concrete to show for it? Did our lives have meaning or did we convince ourselves that they did?
“Let me give you meaning.”
The Bible claims that the living and leading and dying that happens in its pages is not for nothing. That we read about Jephthah and Ibzan and Elon and Abdon for a reason.
The Bible claims that the cycles of our earthly lives is not where living ends. That Someone is preparing a place for us. That we have a non-cyclical, indescribable, supernatural, eternal life to live, if we want to.
The Bible claims to be the word of God, a message from Jesus, instructions from our Creator. They all insist that we have meaning, if not to ourselves, then to Them. They all want to show us that meaning.
Keep reading. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep believing. There might be meaning to be found here yet.
What do you think? What does the parade of leaders in Judges 12 make you think about?