all that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost […].
(“The Riddle of Strider”, JRR Tolkien)
seven individuals whom God displaced in history: Elijah, Father Avraham, Yosef who became a prototype of Messiah in his suffering, Yiftach, Rabbi Paul and, largely because his murderous temper condemned him to exile in Midyan, Moses. there are days when I find it difficult to fathom that Father Elohim would deliberately make wanderers of His beloved ones for the sake of His divine purposes. then again, I guess that is exactly the reason He does so: His purposes are divine. so much so that we have no capacity to comprehend the magnificence of His plans until they have been fully executed. at least, I have had no capacity to grasp the brilliance of His works as He has led me from one mystery into the next. nonetheless, with righteous Job I have learned to say that there is none in heaven or on earth who will show us good except for Yeshua the Christ. the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, praise Him.
I love the story of Yiftach. it gives me such hope. and much comfort too. despite some of the harsher turns that the journey takes, Father Elohim reveals a gentler side of His face through Jephthah’s life. He is the God who deals kindly with His rebellious sons. He is the King who uses imperfect people – broken ones even, like me – to show goodness to the seed of Avraham. in seasons where there appears to be no place in the world for outcasts, He is the Father who creates a platform for the black sheep of the flock to shine.
‘now Yiftach of Gilead was a mighty warrior,’ the story begins. he is the son of a prostitute, a sign for all to see that his father the nobleman had strayed from his covenant bed. and, for his dad’s ignoble ways, Yiftach is punished as soon as the old man dies. the patriarch’s body is barely in the grave when his sons move to disinherit the pariah. furthermore, if that is not enough, together with the elders of the community they conspire to kick him out of town. it is a brutal eviction. they show no concern for his fate. all they desire is to blot out his stain from the silk of their family name.
what happens next is fascinating. Yiftach does what comes most naturally to his hands. he defaults to his design. after all, he is a mighty warrior who is yet to discover how deadly in battle he is. so, with no trade to pursue or home to return to, he becomes a desperado in the land of Tob where a group of bandits gathers around him. they form a gang, and it pleases Father Elohim to use these less-than-holy circumstances to groom His hero for the war He created him to win. God’s mercenary. if I was alive during those days I would have definitely called Yiftach’s biography God’s Mercenary. because, as mind-boggling as it is, in him we see King Father’s delight to raise a deliverer for Israel from the midst of the outlaws of the culture. and, as a result, Yiftach wins an eternal name and glory in the records of heaven. not a bad compensation, I would say, for the pain that is forced upon him when he is displaced from his ordinary life.
the wonder – and the majesty – of Father God is that He does not handle all lives in a uniform way. each human journey on earth is unique, a personally crafted story with its own, singular blend of challenges and prestige. there are those who are born into silken environments. and that is good. and also those who, like Yiftach & co., may be forced to wander outside of the camp for a season or two. which, too, is good. in such lives, the King is already there on the far side of the wilderness, eager with anticipation of the hour when He gets to spring His surprise on them. the challenge of the wild years, however, is to remain anchored in the fact that, whether life looks like a failure or not, His love is enough. even when I am displaced and it hurts. specially then. this is perhaps the hardest part. to be able to say, in Mike Bickle’s words, ‘I am a loved by God; therefore, my life is a success.’
Kambani Ramano is a roving photographer and writer of biographies who finds himself caught up in the marvellous story of God, following Heaven’s High King wherever He leads. get in touch with Kambani to commission the telling of your own story; or, click here to read other stories and poems that he has written.