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Written by: Abigail Atkins
Judges chapter 6 begins telling us the story of Gideon. You may remember him as, the guy with the fleece. The story begins with the people of Israel, who had screwed up….again. So, for seven years, anytime that they planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites would surround them and swarm their crops, devouring everything in sight. Imagine with me for a moment just how devastating that would be. You put in MONTHS of hard labor to provide for your family, and in a flash, everything you’ve worked so hard for is gone.
Have you ever felt like this was the story of your own life? Every time you think you’re just about to get ahead, boom! Something happens. You need new tires. Your AC goes out. That extra income you depended on is gone. It’s so frustrating. It’s so discouraging. I think that’s what drew me to this story of Gideon. We’ve all found ourselves surrounded by our own set of Midianites and Amalekites.
And, this is where we find Gideon. In Judges 6:11, Gideon was in his winepress, preparing to hide wheat from the Midianites. He had been robbed enough to know he had to hide away as much as he could before the Midianites came to collect. I can picture Gideon saying to himself, “If I can just hide this little bit of wheat, then maybe, just maybe, we can have a little loaf of bread this winter.”
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a winepress of your own saying, “Maybe if I hide this little bit of money, I’ll have a little something to fall back on if I lose my job, or if my husband leaves me. Or, maybe if I hide this little bit, I can buy my kids a present for Christmas this year.” It seems inevitable sometimes that something bad is going to happen. At any moment now, the Midianites are going to show up. It never fails. Every time I get a little bit ahead, every time things are going good, everything I worked so hard for is gone. I’m so tired of working so hard, and there’s nothing to show for it. I’m so tired of starting over. I’ve just got to hide this little bit away to get me through those hard times, because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that those hard times are coming. The Midianites have attacked me so many times, that I have more belief that loss is coming, than I have faith.
It is here where the angel of the Lord finds Gideon. He doesn’t call him by what the circumstances look like. He calls him by the truth. He says, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
Gideon’s response gives us a glimpse of the bitterness that had been growing in his heart. In Judges 6:13, Gideon says, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And, where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, and ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? ‘But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Be real for a minute. Are you such a perfect Christian that you’ve never experienced this kind of doubt and questioning in your own heart? We all get dressed up real nice on Sunday and put on this persona that we’ve got it all together so well. But, when no one is around but you and God, have you ever felt so defeated that you just say, “Where are you, God? I trusted your word when it said you’d never leave me or forsake me, yet here I am, and I feel so alone. I believed it when they told me I would be blessed and prosperous, but what nobody really knows, is that my bank account is overdrawn. Maybe back in the Bible days he did all these miraculous things for other people. But, I guess I’m not good enough. I guess he doesn’t operate like that anymore.” Be real. In your most hopeless moments, have you ever questioned the Lord?
As Christians, we sometimes tend to buy into this belief that following Christ will be like this fairytale life, where everything is perfect and every hair falls perfectly into place and our every wish is granted and we’re protected from all trials and tribulations. We believe that nothing bad will ever happen, but then we find ourselves alone in a winepress, metaphorically speaking. Like Gideon, we try to hide away just a little wheat. The reality is that we want God to do it all for us, and God is saying, I put you here to do that, now put your big girl pants on and step into your calling.
Judges 6:14, “And the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’”
God had already told him that he was a mighty man of valor, and now he was saying to him, go in this might of yours and save Israel. See, God doesn’t always step in and say, “This is how I, your God, am going to fix this problem for you.” Sometimes God steps in and says, “This is how I have equipped YOU to fix this.”
I confess there have been times when I’ve questioned God. And then, I beat myself up thinking, “Well, this is why I’m not living victorious. I’m no better than the Israelites, questioning God, groaning and complaining. It’s no wonder why he doesn’t bless me.”
The comfort in this story is that God didn’t send down thunder and lightning and leave Gideon. For, how dare he question God? God knows a broken person when he sees one and he stays near to the broken hearted. (Psalm 34:18) He had been hurt enough. He had been disappointed enough. He had been rejected enough. Not only was he losing his faith in God, but he didn’t believe in himself. He goes on to tell God, not only do I come from the weakest clan in Manasseh, but I’m the least of those! He was basically saying, “You don’t want me God. I’m nothing. I’m a nobody. I’m worthless.” It’s funny how God never mentioned those things. He didn’t walk in and say, “Hey, I heard you were the biggest loser in town, so I had to come and see this for myself.” No! God said, “I am with you, mighty man of valor.”
Let’s just stop here and face some truths today. Who is it that you think you are? What excuse are you hiding behind? You may be saying, “Oh, God wouldn’t use me, every drug dealer in town knows me by name.”
My confession is that I sometimes question how I can teach mountain moving faith to all of you, when the truth is that behind locked doors, I sometimes cry, “Where are you, God?”
But now, forget about whom you think you are, and tell me this, who is it that God says you are? Does he call you mighty man of valor? Maybe you see yourself as that person on drugs, but God sees you as the person that can bring joy to any heart. When I question my own abilities, I try to remember the prophecy I was told, “When I look at you, I see thousands of people gathering at the foot of the cross.” Gideon was the complete opposite of who he thought he was. Maybe, just maybe your biggest insecurity is the devil’s biggest lie about you. Maybe you are actually the complete opposite of that. Maybe you question your abilities, but God says, I will use that to bring thousands to the cross.
We may pick back up and finish the story of Gideon to find out how he defeated his Midianites, or we may move on to something else. You’ll have to follow our blog to find out what happens next! But, for today, forget the lies of your insecurities, and remember who God said you were, mighty man (or woman) of valor!