Have you ever found yourself in a place where you’ve felt utterly unqualified for the task before you? A job or challenge that seems just too daunting and takes you out of your comfort zone? Maybe you have a boss that continuously adds to the, “…and duties as assigned” section of your job description. It can leave you feeling frustrated, vulnerable and afraid. It can be tempting to give into fear and instead of stepping out and trying, you retreat and do nothing.
I’m in a bit of a season of seeing the mountain as insurmountable, myself as an ant compared to the giants I’m facing, and I’m definitely not in my comfort zone–anything but.
I think it was because of a devotional that I’d read, but I found myself pouring over the story of Gideon in the Old Testament. I’m typically not an OT kinda girl; I find the words of the prophets and judges hurt my brain, but this time around I had an “ah ha” moment.
Back story: Israel was worshipping Baal–this didn’t exactly put them in God’s good books. In anger, He turned them over to the Midianites who were bullies. Everything that the Israelites had, the Midianites took. The Israelites would grow a crop and the Midianites would come along and harvest the spoils long before those who had toiled the land could reap the rewards. Israel was starving to death but because the people were out-numbered and afraid, they simply hid and waited for death.
One day, Gideon is busy secretly threshing wheat at the bottom of a wine press (to keep it hidden from the enemy) when he hears, “Hey! Mighty hero! The Lord’s got your back!” Not realizing that he’s actually speaking to Angel of the Lord, he whines, ‘Well, if that’s the case, why is all this happening to us? What about all the miracles we heard about in Egypt–why is he handing us over to the Midianites now?’ The Angel went further to tell him to ‘Go with the strength you have…..I am sending you!” Still, Gideon continues, ‘Our clan is the weakest in the entire tribe of Manasseh; and I am the least in my entire family!’ (my paraphrasing of Judges 6:12-15)
The story doesn’t stop here. Gideon discovers that he’d actually been talking to the Angel of the Lord and thinks he’s done for, but he’s actually commissioned with a pretty daunting task–taking on the Midianites. Before the battle is fought, God has to deal with more of Gideon’s insecurities and quite frankly, his audacity. The Angel of the Lord commands him to take down the Asherah pole that his father, Joash has erected. He does it at night because he’s afraid to be seen doing it in daylight. All goes well; his father tells the disgruntled tribe that if they have a problem, they can take it up with Baal. After dodging death at the hands of his clansmen, Gideon was clothed in power by Spirit of the Lord. Despite this, Gideon still wants God to prove that He is Who He says He is and will do what He says He will–not once–but TWICE. God patiently indulges him and confirms his assured victory for the umpteenth time with the ol’ fleece on the threshing floor test. God then makes Gideon pare down his large army of thousands, to a mere three hundred men. When the night of the battle finally occurs, God says to Gideon, ‘Go for it. I’ve given you the victory, now go claim it. But if you’re afraid, take your servant with you, sneak into the camp and listen to what they’re saying. You’ll know for sure that you’ve got this when you hear what they’re saying.’ Turns out Gideon is afraid and goes into the camp with his servant and as was foretold, he hears the very words assuring him of his impending victory. Then he moves. He is obedient to everything the Lord has told him to do and victory comes swiftly and sweetly as promised. (Paraphrasing from Judges 6,7)
So what does this story reveal about you and I?
We can read about Gideon’s poor self-image, his fear, and even his boldness to test God over and over, all the while shaking our heads, but are we really any different? When we know we’ve heard from God but He’s asking us to do something that we don’t want to do, are we not like Gideon, asking for confirmation–a sign that we’ve really heard correctly? When He centres you out for a mission, are you the one discrediting your own talents, abilities, telling Him He’s got the wrong guy/gal? Or do you decide that it wasn’t Him at all, it was just a crazy thought that drifted in your consciousness so you dismiss it?
What strikes me about this whole encounter is that before Gideon even knew that he was getting his marching orders, God was already speaking identity over him. He didn’t say, “Hey, Gideon!” he said, “Mighty hero!” He didn’t say, “I will give you strength,” he said, “Go with the strength you have.” Even though Gideon argued with the Angel, crying, “I am the least in my entire family!” God still saw his potential. He had no doubts because He knew who He’d created Gideon to be. Despite being from a tribe that had deserted the teachings of Moses and was worshipping a false god, Gideon was still God’s first choice to showcase His glory.
God calls, ‘Hey! Creative Artist!!’ and you say,
‘Who, me? I didn’t even go to art school; I’m like the worst artist ever!”
The Father responds, ‘Create with the talent and gifting in you, sweetheart.’
Are you looking at all the mistakes you’ve made, your status, or lack, and deciding that they disqualify you for a blessing? You’re not that powerful, sunshine. The Israelites seriously disqualified themselves, but still God wanted to bless them. Look at how many times Gideon showed fear. God didn’t turn away in disgust. He actually knew that he would be afraid, and he worked that into the victory. He knows when we’re afraid too, and He doesn’t turn away; he works it into our stories too. ‘The only caveat is that He wants the glory. He will often take away your army, your resources, and comforts so all you have to rely upon is Him, as He did with our mighty hero. Just as He knew who He created Gideon to be, He knows who He created you to be. He will work all things for good for His glory. He did it before and He’ll do it again.
Yes and amen.