When I was 22 years old, God called me into full time vocational ministry. I wasn’t looking for it. My plan was to work at my alma mater, go to seminary, and become a Bible professor. I enjoyed serving at my church but I never expected to become a pastor there.
As I read Gideon’s story in Scripture, I realized how much I identified with him. Before we get to him, here’s the backstory: Israel has finally reached the promised land and they decide to worship Baal instead of God.
This part of the story always leaves me dumbfounded – God was faithful and allowed you to reach the promised land and now you worship someone else?! Then I am quickly reminded how often I do the same thing. God shows up in my finances and I began to worship my money instead of the God who provided it. Help me Lord.
The Lord leaves the people to suffer and the Midianites sweep through the land and take all of their food. The Israelites are driven away from their homes and forced to find creative ways to hide the food they did have.
Gideon was doing just that.
“Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor. And Gideon said to him, ‘Please, my lord, 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, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.’ 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?’” Judges 6:11–14
I love this display of Gideon’s humanness. Here he is – HIDING – minding his own business and God sees him. There’s a sermon in that my friends. We serve a God who sees us. I was a 22 year old Resident Director and church volunteer and He saw something in me I certainly didn’t see in myself. I can also relate to Gideon’s hesitancy. I think we all can.
God has chosen to use the Church, that is the Body of Christ, to be the primary tool to reveal His redemptive plan to the world. And I think when He calls us, sometimes we just want to point the finger at Him and remind Him of hard life is… how hard hope is. Then He loving turns to us and says, ‘Do not I send you?’ That question sends a chill down my spine. That question doesn’t produce an answer but rather a holy confidence because the God of the universe is on my side.
Even after this, Gideon needed more proof that this was really God speaking to him. He grabs some meat and unleavened bread and God sends fire down to consume it. After this sign, Gideon is convinced that God is speaking to him.
I love God’s patience in this moment. Gideon says, “Can you wait here for a minute while I prepare a test to make sure you’re really God.” And God essentially says, “I’ll wait.” That brings tears to my eyes. Our tests, doubts, and fears don’t offend Him. He is patient with our process.
“That night the Lord said to him, ‘Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.’ So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.“ Judges 6:25–27
And after all of that, Gideon is still afraid. And I get it. You probably do too. God reaffirms my calling over and over again but sometimes I found myself afraid. And once again God is patient.
The people are upset because Gideon has ruined their god. They asked Gideon’s father to hand him over so that they can kill him. He says, “If Baal is your god, let him fight for you.” Whoa! I love that. And even after all of this, Gideon needs another sign.
“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.’ And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, ‘Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.’ And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.” Judges 6:36–40
Gideon ends up obeying God and defeating the Midianites with only 300 men.
God was faithful – through Gideon’s doubt, confusion, distrust, worry – God was faithful.
After almost eight years of full time vocational ministry, I can tell you honestly – God is faithful. Through doubt, confusion, distrust and worry, you can trust this truth – God is faithful.