gilgalYou are Ehud, a timid man with handicaps. You live in Israel during the time of the Judges, when the children of Israel occupy the promised land in a tenuous kind of way, bedeviled by the Canaanites and their tempting fertility worship while forgetting who their help comes from.

Because you are not a mighty man, the Israelites choose you to lead a delegation bringing tribute to the oppressor, Eglon, king of Moab. Together with your companions, you cross the Jordan River to Moab on the eastern shore, carrying the first fruits of the land. Eglon has been lord over Israel for eighteen years, and his yoke is heavy. Finally people are beginning to remember why they are in Canaan to begin with: a God named Jehovah put them there. Are they daring to cry out to him?

You, Ehud, have a withered right arm. Perhaps your whole right side is withered. As a cripple, you are the perfect head to a powerless delegation. But wait. Something told you to prepare yourself for conflict. You got a short sword that fits your left hand, and concealed it along the right side of your body under your clothes. It makes you feel more confident, powerless man that you are.

You and your companions deliver the goods and start back. You cross the Jordan River back into Israel. You get as far as Gilgal. And you pause.

Gilgal. That’s the place where the Israelites stopped after crossing the Jordan with Joshua, generations ago. You see the twelve stones pulled from the dry gully that had been the Jordan River, when the Lord held back the water so the hundreds of thousands of descendants of Abraham could cross. It was Joshua who set those twelve stones into a monument at Gilgal, just a short ways east of Jericho. Gilgal was also where Joshua renewed the covenant with Jehovah and had all the men in Israel circumcised. It was a place to give you, Ehud, pause and remember God Almighty.

Gilgal is where you, Ehud, realize that your mission is more than delivering the tribute.  Jehovah is with you, and you are with Jenovah. You turn around.

Alone you cross the Jordan, return to Eglon, king of Moab, and request a private audience. You’re not a threat, he apparently thinks. What harm can a cripple cause? So he gives you private audience, and you plunge your hidden sword into his body and steal away. You are able to get away altogether before his people discover his death.

You cross the Jordan again, blow a trumpet, and lead the Israelites back to the Jordan to fight. The Lord hands  the victory to you, who are not a mighty man, but a weak man who is learning to lean on God. And God sends peace to the land for eighty years.

Reader, are you also a weak man or woman learning to lean on God?

And do you have a Gilgal in your life, something or somewhere that reminds you of your true mission?


Short Story by Phyllis Wheeler

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