“From this comes the Israelite custom that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.”
Judges 11: 39, 40, N.I.V.
What Will They Remember?
“Some I tell you will remember us.”
How do I want to be remembered?
“Remember me when I am gone away, gone far away into the silent land.”
“One remembers different persons differently, some by the impact they have made on our emotions, and others by the impression they leave in our minds.”
Here in the United States, as in most countries around the world, there are certain days on the calendar that are marked as “holidays.” Interestingly enough, the majority of our U.S. holidays celebrate or commemorate the lives of individuals. We have special days that mark the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr., Presidents Washington and Lincoln, veterans who have served in the armed services in defense of our nation, and even Christopher Columbus and St. Patrick have holidays that celebrate their lives. On the Christmas holiday we remember the life of Jesus and on Easter we reflect on not only His death, but we also celebrate His glorious resurrection.
All of these days are set aside to give us time to remember. Unfortunately, remembering the “why” of a holiday has been lost in the commercialization of the day when merchants try to lure customers, with free-time, into their businesses.
For most people however, the real day remembrance arrives is on the day we die. At funerals, people are eulogized as a friend or clergy takes time to remind those in attendance of what the person achieved in their lifetime.
Having my Father die at a young age gave me, as a writer, the opportunity to do something at his funeral that is not often done. Rather than having someone read a litany of my Dad’s successes in his career, which is what happens a lot, instead I wrote a story about who my Father was from birth or death – a story that explained to the many in attendance what had shaped the man they knew only as Jimmy.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people thanked me afterward.
During my dad’s life, his inability to share with others all the struggles that had molded his life, left some of even his closest friends, with only a partial view of a very complete person who, although he seemed so self-sufficient, was vulnerable and tender and sensitive just like all of us, whether we want to admit it or not.
As you and I take a few moments to look back, as our text in Judges 11: 39, 40 does, and remember Jephthah’s daughter, we find that at the end of this Biblical story, we are told the women of Israel, took four days each year, to “commemorate,” as the New International Version of the Bible says, the life of this woman.
What I find so important is that other than Jesus’ life and Lot’s wife, very few other Biblical characters have an admonition or celebration around their lives which involves “remembering.” With Lot’s wife, we are told to “remember” her as a way for God to call our attention to the priorities we choose in our lives.
Then in the New Testament, Paul instructs his young trainee Timothy to, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David” (2 Timothy 2: 8). What a wonderful thing for you and me to remember about Jesus – that the heaven-sent Son of God, became one of us, a descendant of a frail, fallen human like David, and yet in glory and power He rose from the dead, He broke once and for all the clutches of sin and death that grip your life and mine. This is something we need to always remember.
And this brings us to Jephthah’s daughter and how our remembering her life, so long ago, can and does impact our lives today as daughters of the King of the universe.
The author George Santayana penned these very astute words: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This I believe is a tremendous lesson for us to take away from the life of Jephthah’s daughter. Ironically, the Bible never tells us this young woman’s name. We know her only by her father’s identity and in retrospect I believe this may be for a good reason, because it was her father’s capricious behavior that defined her life. Unfortunately, the same thing happens very often in the lives of God’s daughters today. The acts of a parent, for good or evil, or the behavior of a spouse, can end up being the defining point, by some, of the life of a woman. This could easily have been the case in the life of Jephthah’s daughter had not the women of Israel chosen to commemorate her life – to take time to reflect on what was and what could have been. The lesson of this wonderful girl is that no matter who in our lives tries to place their identity upon us, God has placed His heavenly identity within us. And the stamp of God in your heart and mine is something no one, no matter how hard they may try, can remove or deface. It is of our choosing, to continually remind ourselves and each other, who we really belong to and who has created us for His heavenly purpose. As God’s daughters and as female friends, we must never let anyone try to erase the heavenly image God has imprinted upon each of His precious girls. May we remember each other as God has designed.
“Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves.”
“Take in only the worthy guest into thy heart. You are the guardian, your soul the sacred host, your body the temple. Keep your sanctuary safe. Receive no one without deep mutual welcome. Take in only the angels – those sent by God bearing gentle messages of heart-felt love. Let in only those who recognize you as complete and wholly in goodness, in sorrow, in joy – those who embrace your radiance, as well as the silence. Such ones as can speak words of encouragement will inspire you to conceive and give birth to all God purposes in your life. You were born of heaven’s guiding hand, do not say yes to less—remember “Whose” you are.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit:hwww.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.