Leo Lionni was an author and illustrator of children’s books. In one of his books, he tells the story of a little minnow-sized fish named Swimmy. Swimmy is just like all the other fish swimming in the large minnow school except for his color. All the minnows are reddish-gold. Swimmy is pure black. The school of little swim peaceably together until one day a large predator fish comes along. Suddenly, all the little fish including Swimmy scatter.
Swimmy begins to observe his watery world and realizes that the big intimidate, bully, and consume the small. What could one tiny little fish do about that, he thinks to himself? Then Swimmy has a brilliant idea. It is a plan that will use his uniqueness as the one black fish and the team work of his minnow schoolmates.
Swimmy organizes the school of little friends so they are swimming in the shape of a large fish. Swimmy, with his black color, is the eye of the illusionary giant fish. In the last scene of the book, we see a huge would-be-predator take one look at this intimidating giant turn tail and run. Swimmy, the one fish who is different than all the others, turns out to be a leader.
This week’s lesson is about how God used surprising people like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson as leaders of the new nation. These leaders were called Judges. The Judges were sent by God to lead Israel. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved the people out of the hands of their enemies. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than before. As things got worse in the people’s disobedience, the Israelite's would cry out and the Lord would give them a new judge who would try to lead the people.
Questions for the Week
Consider journaling your response to these questions:
When Israel has faithful leadership, Israel thrives. When it lacks leadership, the people suffer. Do you think leadership has this kind of effect on people trying to follow God? What leaders do you admire from this story? Why?
No all of us are institutional leaders with titles and people reporting to us. But all of us have the ability to exercise leadership in some sphere of our life. How can you be a leader in your family? With your friends? How can you exercise leadership in ways that will help you and others participate in God’s mission and ministry in the world?
Even in times of disobedience, God listens to Israel’s cries. How is God listening to the cries of His people today? What would it take for God’s people today to come into a right relationship with Him? How can you help?
One of the recurring themes in chapter 8 of the The Story is that a new generation would rise up that did not know God and what he had done for His people in the past. When the people forgot, they wandered, drifted away from God. This same thing can happen in our generation. What practical things can we do in our homes and in the church to help the next generation know and remember what God has done in the past so they will hold on to Him in the future?
There seems to be consequences when we refuse to follow God. Why do you think we continue to repeat the same sin patterns even though we know the outcome will not be good?
Where do you think you would be today without God’s direction in your life?
As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get you started:
· Confess your tendency to forget the great things God has done in the past. Ask God to help you remember His faithfulness each day.
· Thank God for those people that He sends into our lives that give us direction and guidance. Give a special thanks for Jesus.
· Tell God that you are ready to follow Him even when you feel inadequate for the task.
Are there any patterns of rebellion and struggle in your life? What does your personal life pattern look like when it comes to sin and wandering from God? What is one step you can take to begin to break that pattern?
Read and meditate on Moses’ song found in Deuteronomy 32. Let the message of this song move deep into your soul. You might even want to write it down and put it somewhere where you will see it on a regular basis. If you are musical, you might want to set it to music. Let he message of this short song remind you of God’s goodness and our human temptation to fall back into the same sins over and over again.
Read for the next session
Read Chapter 9