Thinking Outside Of The "I"
It is so very common in our modern-day world for looks to deceive. In my first two posts, I shared the details of my family’s experience with buying a home that was on the brink of collapse. We bought the home with the realization that it was in need of a major overhaul of systems (such as heating, electrical, and plumbing), as well as total kitchen and bathroom updates, and new lighting, floors refinished and paint both inside and out. Trust me when I say our to-do list was a long one! But interestingly enough, it was only after we had sunk all our cash into accomplishing these planned renovations and it appeared near perfect, that we learned we were not even close to being finished with the renovation because the home, at its core, was still structurally devastated.
Now, backing up a little bit. I will never forget the meeting we had with our contractor prior to construction, (which of all places) took place in the basement (where the monstrous problems were hiding). Our contractor talked Dave and me through every stage of his proposed plans for making our house the home of our dreams. And when he finished, we were sold. But before we all shook hands I interjected a thought, “I’d really like to start with taking down this wood paneling and taking a peek behind the drywall,” I said, “just to be safe.” It was a great idea, and everyone, including the contractor, agreed. But somehow, this divinely inspired lightening bolt of an idea fell through the cracks. So alas, it ended up being one of the last steps of our renovation instead of the first… at the point where our already limited options had officially dropped to zero.
No doubt, if we had learned of the true hidden condition of the house prior to our investment, it would have changed everything for us. With the home’s tragic condition, we were informed we could have taken legal action to have our purchase contract voided and returned to the Sellers. Or, at the very least, we could have reprioritized our budget, and chosen instead to make the required repairs first, while we still could. But it didn’t happen that way. And, I came to realize over time, it didn’t for a very wonderfully specific and intentional reason: to allow us to see the miraculous hand of God.
The Old Testament is busting at the seams with stories about the impossible situations God’s people have gotten themselves into, as well as one miraculous wonder after another as God Himself literally made the impossible possible to save and redeem them.
The story of Gideon is one of those stories (and one of my top-three stories in the Old Testament). In my post last week I told the first part of his story… Gideon had been visited by an angel of the Lord who told him that he had been chosen by God to save the children of Israel. But he wasn’t so sure that this angel was in fact authentically sent from God.
So, what did he do? He asked the angel for a sign of confirmation, and he was shocked and amazed when he saw a miracle of the Lord performed before his very eyes. “When Gideon realized that He was in fact encountering the angel of the Lord he said, ‘Oh no, Lord God! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” –Judges 6:22
While this should have been enough to convince Gideon that he had the supernatural protection and power of God surrounding him and his mission, it wasn’t. While he performed the task that the angel of the Lord had sent him to do, the Bible tells us, “So Gideon took 10 of his male servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it at night.” –Judges 6:27 For more on this part of Gideon’s story, stay tuned for my future blog post entitled Do It Afraid.
Just as He still does with His people everyday, God had called Gideon to do something that scared him. Let me rephrase that, God had called Gideon to do something that scared the ba-geezus out of him. See, God had asked him to tear down a Baal alter, to destroy a temple all of the people had chosen to worship instead of the one true God. So even before Gideon had snuck out that night to do so, he knew the people would be so p.o.'d with him, they’d probably come after him to kill him.
But still, he followed the angel of the Lord’s orders anyway. And that’s when (what I imagine to be debilitating) fear crept its way inside Gideon’s heart. He had only done a small part of what God had asked him to do and already he was sinking in doubt… because on top of destroying the alter (which was already terrifying enough), he, a man without any battle experience or knowledge, was also supposed to defeat an army of 135,000 skilled warriors. Say what???
What Gideon did next was the best thing he could have done; he went to God and asked Him for reassurance in the form of a sign. Which God quickly bestowed upon him, not once… but twice. For more on this part of Gideon’s story stay tuned for next week’s blog called, What’s Your Sign?
After God had performed two wonders to assure Gideon of His presence and power, He proceeded to advise him on selecting an army of men. Gideon had 32,000 men at his disposal. However, God told Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: ‘I did it myself.’ Now announce in the presence of the people: ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So 22,000 of the people turned back, but 10,000 remanded.” -Judges 7:2-3
Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many people. Take them down to the water and I will test them for you there. If I say to you, ‘This one can go with you,’ he can go. But if I say about anyone, ‘This one cannot go with you, he cannot go.’”
The test was simple; go to the water and drink. In the end, those who brought the water up to their mouths to drink were chosen to stay and fight. Those who instead lapped up the water like a dog, were asked to go. Any guesses on what God’s plan for the size of Gideon’s army might have been? 5,000? 3,000? Seriously. He must have left Gideon at least 1000 men to help him conquer a massive army of 135,000… Wouldn’t you think?
In the end, the actual number of men chosen by God for Gideon’s army was 300, but the grand truth of the matter is he would have been victorious even if God had chosen to leave behind only three. Because when Gideon’s men blew their 300 trumpets, and the Lord set the swords of the men of the Midianite army against one another (meaning in their miraculous confusion, they started annihilating themselves), their doom was certain and inevitable.
By breaking down the statics behind Gideon’s circumstances, we can really see the true impossibility of a human conquest and the magnitude of the miracle all of Israel was able to experience as a result of Gideon’s mission.
Gideon’s Army Size Number each man would have to kill out of 135,000
32,000 5 men
10,000 14 men
300 450 men
The thing that fascinates me most about this story is the part where God, in all His knowledge and wisdom, knows that if He had given Gideon and the men of Israel even 10,000 men, they would have totally taken the glory for themselves, believing they had won the battle through their own might and power. And while that seems ridiculous that their egos would have allowed themselves to believe they were tough enough to win straight-up with 10,000 men against 135,000, most of us are guilty of doing the same type of thing every day. “I won the court case.” “I saved the girl from drowning.” “I tripled my net worth… or social media following.” But God’s number one desire for all of us is that we know Him through His works, so that we will come to Him and live abundantly within His perfect grace and love. “He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes” –Deuteronomy 10:21
So in case you, like Gideon, have been wondering if anything good can come out of all the bad stuff that keeps happening in our world at massive rates everyday, I hope you remember this…
Where there’s an impossible situation… God is near. And He is saying, “I am your God. I never change. I love you and I want you to know me. Stand back, while I show you what only I can do for you… and the limitless ways what I’ve done for you can change the hearts and lives of others.
Hear me when I say this friends… the battle between Gideon and the Midianites was already won before it ever began. It won’t be easy, but no matter what kind of battle you are fighting this week, I hope you remember to call out to God and then stand back and wait for His invisible fingerprints to transform you and your situation.
I hope you will join me back here next week where we will explore my absolute favorite part of Gideon’s story. It was a game-changer for me, and I think it will be for you too. In the meantime, I leave you with this: Ask not what you can do, but what the Creator of the Universe can do through you.
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Written by J.C.