Tuesday, March 29, 2011
First, let me say I am a big supporter of Gideons International. I think they do some great work, but this blog isn't about the organization. It's about the man himself, Gideon.
I know I have read his story before, more than once, but something popped out at me this morning while I was reading it again. You can find his story in the Book of Judges beginning in chapter 6. We assume Gideon was the prophet that God sent to the people of Israel after they cried out to God from beneath Midianite oppression, but it doesn't actually say. When we meet Gideon, he is sitting under a tree threshing wheat. Not very glamorous, but ok.
(Cue the angel)
"The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." I can picture Gideon looking around, over his shoulders, trying to figure out who this guy is talking about. He couldn't have been talking to Gideon because Gideon was wallowing in self pity. No one was listening to him. Some mighty warrior, eh? You can get the skinny on the details by checking out Chapter 6, we're going to move on down the story a bit. God has abandoned us, yada, yada, yada. Gideon didn't think he could do what the angel told him to do, yada, yada, yada. Hey angel, if I'm the one show me a sign, yada, yada, yada. How many times is that story repeated in the scriptures? Or in our stories?
The cool stuff is still a few verses away. Finally Gideon is convinced that he can do this, mainly because he has an army of tens of thousands of men. But wait...there's more...God said, "Gideon, your army is too big. I'm going to thin it down a bit." So God sends home 22,000 men who admit they are scared, leaving Gideon with 10,000. "Gideon," God says, "Still too many. I'm going to thin it down some more." When God gets down, Gideon is left with 300 fighting men. That's right, folks, 300. That is down from over 30,000 if my math is correct.
Here's where the story gets good. God told him one night to get up, head down into the Midian camp, and take them. God was giving them into his hands, the bible says so, but God also said something like this, "If you're scared, take your right hand man, slip down into the camp and listen to what they are saying." AND HE DID IT!
God had already told him that he was going to win, but he was still scared. Hmm, what was that Jamie? Yeah, God told him that he was going to win the battle, but he was still scared enough that he took God's plan B and went with it. That's right folks, even Gideon wasn't sure.
So, why do we beat ourselves up when we have moments of uncertainty? All of us, at some point, are asked to do something by God that we don't think we can do. I think that I have forgotten that. In my profession it's very easy to get cocky and arrogant. It's easy to see some growth in the church and think, "Look at what I have done." On the other hand, it's very humbling to have a task set before you and realize that there is no way on earth you can do it by yourself.
300 men routed the entire Midianite army, and then came back and cleaned up the leftovers? Yep, 300 men...and God. That's good enough for me.