what to do with this child

Today's devotion from Judges 12 & 13. Judges 13, thankfully, transitions from haughty arrogance to a humility to which many of us can relate. In this chapter we meet Manoah and his wife. Unable to bear children, the family is taken off guard by "the angle of the LORD" which, we follow tradition, would be the preincarnate Christ. (note the use of the definite article, "the" instead of "an")

When the divine messenger first appears, it is to the soon-to-be-expectant mother alone. In this meeting He informs her of what is about to happen and gives her instructions on what to do next. This is to be a child consecrated for the Lord from birth. As a Nazarite, which was a special vow, he would have to remain unshaven, abstain from drink, and be dedicated to the will of God.

This is such a shock that when she tells her husband, Manoah pleads with God, "Please, Lord, let the man of God you sent come again to us and teach us what we should do for the boy who will be born." (Judges 13:8, CSB) I can completely relate. He doesn't doubt the messenger or the message. He doesn't laugh at the prophecy. He doesn't scoff at the lateness of his wife's pregnancy. He is simply crippled with questions about how to raise a child dedicated to God.

I think this is something that many of us understand. It is not uncommon to hear Christians speak of being afraid to try to raise a child in our current cultural climate. As I'm writing this (a day ahead of your reading) it is on my youngest child's birthday. I'm still terrified that I'm messing this whole parenting thing up.

What can we do? Well, I think there is some direction for us here. First, the angel doesn't give them all the answers, just "...everything I have commanded her" (Judges 13:14, CSB) Second, when Manoah wants to host a feast in His honor, the messenger redirects him to the one who sent Him. He suggests worship.

I don't know all the answers, but I think it would be hard to go wrong with turning our gaze toward God when we struggle the parts of life that don't seem to be covered with detailed step-by-step instructions.