"Mama! Mama! Let me in! Somebody! Let me in!" I hear the sound of little fists and feet pounding against a door. Charlie. How did he get outside and which door is he at? I listen carefully. He doesn't sound too far away. I open the door off the kitchen. There he is.
I wipe away his tears and pick him up. "Charlie, you don't go out front without Mama. It's not safe."
"It's not safe? Why, Mama?" And he's off again to join the kids in their play.
Our sprawling ranch has six doors to the outside. I would need crazy cartoon x-ray see-around-the-corner eyes to keep track of the comings and goings of this mob. The neighbors must have been elbowing each other behind their curtains the morning we arrived. "Look honey, the Whac-A-Moles moved in." Before we collected our wits and established sound boundaries, the kids were bursting in and out of every door. We found them riding their bikes in the neighbor's driveway. We heard them running around in the front yard after dark when they were supposed to be getting ready for bed. We collared one across the street looking for lily pads along the lakeshore.
After the lake incident and before we unpacked the pots and pans, we sat all of the children down in a row along the hearth. "Look at my eyes! Repeat after me! Do not go in the front yard! Stay in the back yard! Use the back door!" The children opened and closed the correct door for emphasis. For the most part they have complied with this edict. Although, why Charlie was at the kitchen door remains a mystery.
The kids and I read about a group of Whac-A-Moles in Judges 18 today. God assigned the tribe of Dan a choice plot of land nestled safely between Ephraim and Judah. The Danites were overwhelmed by the thought of fighting the Philistines and the Amorites to settle in this territory and so they looked for an easy way out. By the end of the chapter, the Danites have popped up a hundred miles away from the land that God had for them. They settled in a rich, isolated territory. It meant nothing for them to disobey about where to live so it was just as easy to make concessions on how to worship. They stole some silver idols and convinced a renegade priest (Moses' grandson, Jonathan) to lead them.
They would have been safe in the middle of the tribes if they had chosen to follow God's directions. They would have been close to the center of worship. This may have made obedience more likely. What was convenient in the beginning led to their destruction in the end. That prosperous, isolated territory made them an easy target for bands of marauders. In the end, the tribe of Dan was no more.
We can be Whac-A-Moles too if we do not take care. God gives each of us a territory that he wants us to settle. Tasks that perfectly match our abilities. How often do we pop our heads up, crane our necks and look for something else to do? Somewhere else to settle? Something a little easier or more entertaining than the task before us? I can almost picture Jesus standing at the door to the sheepfold with His hands on his hips, "Can you not just stay in the fold? Look! You have purpose. You have direction. You have Me! What more do you need?" If we keep popping out, He lets us go where we will but we forfeit the blessing that He had for us in the original territory. He graciously welcomes us back if we choose to return but it is better to stay safe with Him in His plan in the first place.
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