“Father, you have made a vow to the LORD. Do with me as you have vowed, because the LORD has wrought vengeance for you on your enemies the Ammonites.”
The Old Testament has a lot of strange stories in it. This is one of them.
Jephthah has been chosen by God to be a judge of Israel and a deliverer for them from their enemies, the Ammonites. He is seen as a man with a zeal for God, but tainted with the pagan practice of human sacrifice. He foolishly offers God "whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites," (v. 31).
He wins, of course, and who is the first to greet him on his return but his only child, his daughter. Her name is not even given to us in this passage, but she exemplifies the spirit of the saints in her demeanor. Her response is the text above.
It sounds familiar. It is the language of humble surrender. It was the spirit of our Blessed Mother when she offered herself to become the mother of our Lord: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word," (Lu. 1:38).
We are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. The invitation to discipleship is a call to surrender. This is something we must continually choose. Yesterday's vow will not do. We must embrace it today and hold on to it perpetually.
Surrender is not easy. That is a great understatement. It is close to impossible. It goes against everything that is naturally in us. But it must be so. We must completely die in order for the life of Christ to live in us and through us. As our Lord offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins and rose again, so we must die to all that is sinful and allow the Lord to raise us up in His image.
What is God calling for today? What are we holding onto so tightly? May we abandon all and surrender ourselves completely to Him. Like Jephthah's daughter, the world may not know our names, but it will benefit from the life of Christ lived through us as we offer ourselves to Him in complete surrender.