Today's challenge is to write an open letter thanking a historical figure for her contributions to the world.
I've been thinking about all of the incredible women I've heard about. One name keeps coming back to me. She is very well known in some circles, and an utter stranger in others. Her name is Deborah.
Very little is known about Deborah's life except for the short span of time when she shifted the fortunes of her nation. She led the armies of her country against a king who had imposed a 20 year reign of terror over her homeland and people.
We do know that Deborah was a married woman. She was a spiritual and political leader of her people. They were hill people, rugged and independent, and Deborah was one of the best.
Deborah called for one of the men of the nation to lead the nation's armies against King Sisera, but he refused to go into battle unless Deborah went with them. At the end of the battle, all of Sisera's army, and Sisera himself were dead.
Here then is my letter to Deborah.
I've wondered about you and how it was for you in those days.
It must have been an odd time for you and the nation. People came to you from everywhere to ask your thoughts, opinions and what spiritual insight you had for them. How did you ever get any work done? I'm sure that your household still had to be run even if you were the leader of the day.
Deborah, there must have been an uncommon strength of courage inside of you to stand up to the men of your day. Most women of that day were hidden from view. The men were the one's to rule. But there must have been something strong and reassuring about you that would cause Barak to refuse to go into battle without you.
What was it? Was it your spiritual insight? Was it your wisdom? Was it your calm and even demeanor that inspired the people around you. It is said that Jael, the wife of another man, is the woman who killed Sisera. Did she take courage from your example to do what needed to be done on that day?
Today's political and spiritual leaders don't often do what needs to be done. There are committees and meetings and deals made in back rooms. It seems that our lands are overrun by tyrannical people who have only one aim in mind - destroy anyone who doesn't agree with them.
I don't see you as a woman who went out looking for trouble. But you weren't afraid to stand up and take matters into your own hands when it was necessary.
I appreciate your strength of character and your steadfast belief that what you were called to do, could be done. Thank you for believing in your calling, your purpose, and your mission in life. Thank you for setting an example for women everywhere.
“Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed. Praise the Lord!
“Listen, you kings! Pay attention, you mighty rulers! For I will sing to the Lord.
I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.
“Lord, when you set out from Seir and marched across the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, and the cloudy skies poured down rain. The mountains quaked in the presence of the Lord, the God of Mount Sinai—in the presence of the Lord, the God of Israel.
“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, and in the days of Jael, people avoided the main roads, and travelers stayed on winding pathways. There were few people left in the villages of Israel until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.
When Israel chose new gods, war erupted at the city gates.
Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!
My heart is with the commanders of Israel, with those who volunteered for war.
Praise the Lord!
“Consider this, you who ride on fine donkeys, you who sit on fancy saddle blankets,
and you who walk along the road. Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes. They recount the righteous victories of the Lord and the victories of his villagers in Israel. Then the people of the Lord marched down to the city gates.
“Wake up, Deborah, wake up! Wake up, wake up, and sing a song!
Arise, Barak! Lead your captives away, son of Abinoam!
“Down from Tabor marched the few against the nobles. The people of the Lord marched down against mighty warriors.
They came down from Ephraim -- a land that once belonged to the Amalekites; they followed you, Benjamin, with your troops. From Makir the commanders marched down; from Zebulun came those who carry a commander’s staff. The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak. They followed Barak, rushing into the valley.
But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision. Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds—to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks? Yes, in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.
Gilead remained east of the Jordan. And why did Dan stay home?
Asher sat unmoved at the seashore, remaining in his harbors.
But Zebulun risked his life, as did Naphtali, on the heights of the battlefield.
“The kings of Canaan came and fought, at Taanach near Megiddo’s springs, but they carried off no silver treasures.
The stars fought from heaven. The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.
The Kishon River swept them away—that ancient torrent, the Kishon.
March on with courage, my soul!
Then the horses’ hooves hammered the ground, the galloping, galloping of Sisera’s mighty steeds.
‘Let the people of Meroz be cursed,’ said the angel of the Lord. ‘Let them be utterly cursed,
because they did not come to help the Lord—to help the Lord against the mighty warriors.’
“Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents. Sisera asked for water, and she gave him milk. In a bowl fit for nobles, she brought him yogurt.
Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg, and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera with the hammer, crushing his head. With a shattering blow, she pierced his temples. He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet. And where he sank, there he died.
“From the window Sisera’s mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don’t we hear the sound of chariot wheels?’
“Her wise women answer, and she repeats these words to herself:
‘They must be dividing the captured plunder—with a woman or two for every man.
There will be colorful robes for Sisera, and colorful, embroidered robes for me.
Yes, the plunder will include colorful robes embroidered on both sides.’
“Lord, may all your enemies die like Sisera!
But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!”
Then there was peace in the land for forty years.
You probably know by now, that Deborah is a woman from the Bible who lived during the 12th Century BC (1101-1200). Both Jewish and Christian history are filled with her story. She is widely acknowledged as a woman who was able to turn her nation back to God after many years of worshiping idols.
Her story can be found in the Old Testament in the book of Judges, chapters 4-5.
Her life and example can be witnessed in strong, courageous women around the world.