I love the story of Gideon, it’s one of the great stories of the Bible. During this time, the Midianites (next door neighbors to the people of Israel) had grown strong and the people of Israel had grown weak. After harvesting their wheat crops, the people of Israel took their grain to a hilltop and threw it up in the air to allow the wind to blow and separate the wheat from the chaff. The chaff, would blow away and the heavy grain would fall, thus threshing the wheat. The Midianites would watch for this to happen and swoop down to steal the grain, leaving the people of Israel hungry with no reward for all of their effort. It was a difficult time and the people of Israel couldn’t do anything about it.
Gideon’s story begins in a cave down in a winepress, where Gideon is working to thresh his wheat by throwing it in the air. His attempts are unsuccessful as there is no wind and the grain keeps falling on his head. Suddenly, an angel shows up and says, “Hail, oh, man of mighty valor. God has a message for you. He wants to you raise an army, go fight the Midianites, and set the people of Israel free from their oppression.” Gideon replies, “Me? Why, I’m the smallest person in my family, and my family is the smallest in all of my clan, and my clan is the smallest in our whole tribe, and our tribe is the smallest in all of Israel. Me? Why, I’m just Gideon.”
Sound familiar? From time to time we all feel unworthy or incapable, but when God calls us to do something, he equips us with everything we need. Three things I want to share with you, today!
#1 GOD BELIEVES IN YOU
Can you remember a time when you felt like Gideon? Maybe you have an idea or opportunity, but then you begin to worry and think, “Who am I to do that? I’m just me.” When God believes in you more than you believe in yourself, it makes it harder to hear God speak in your life. For God gives us these opportunities and ideas so that we might be set free from that which oppresses us. So often we respond, “But I’m just Gideon.”
#2 WHEN FEAR HOLDS YOU BACK
Second, do you ever get great ideas that excite you and then you dismiss them quickly because they seem too big, too overwhelming or too scary? You get a great idea, it excites you, but you quickly dismiss it. That’s what happened to Gideon. God said, “Let’s go fight the Midianites, we will set the people free from all that oppresses them.” Gideon immediately said, “But we can’t do that, it’s impossible, it’s overwhelming, can’t be done.”
#3 FOCUS ON THE GOOD
Third, I think one question we need to be asking ourselves is, where do I focus my attention? Do I focus on all the bad things that can happen or am I focusing on the presence of grace that surrounds me? When God came to Gideon, He said, “Gideon, I want you to raise an army, I will be with you, and we’re going to go fight the Midianites.” Gideon was fixated on the fact that “there are more of them than us!” He couldn’t see how it would even be possible to defeat them and so he questions God, asking for a sign that this is truly God’s will. He tells God, “How about tonight I put out some fleece and if this is your will, please make the fleece wet and keep the ground dry, could you do that?” Gideon gets up to find the fleece wet and the ground dry, so he takes the fleece and wrings it out, saying, “God, that was pretty cool, but I just really want to be sure we’re on the same page. How about tonight we do it the opposite of that? Could you leave the fleece dry and make the ground wet? I just really want to be sure.” And so God does that the next night. Gideon finally has to believe in the presence of grace that surrounds him to confront the big thing he has been called to do.
It is so easy to look at all the bad things that can happen. Now, please, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not encouraging us to be a spiritual Pollyanna that simply says, “I can go do all these things because I know God’s going to work it all out.” I believe it’s necessary to confront the realities in your life, the problems, the issues, the mountains; you’ve got to confront the issues. But, I also know that when you confront those realities, it can be paralyzing. Often, we forget to focus on the presence of grace that surrounds us, because that’s what frees us up to live in the moment and to live every day to the fullest.
Grace opens you up to experience the moment, and to live life. For God gives us all kinds of great ideas and if we’re not careful we may dismiss God-given ideas, too quickly. God came to Gideon and said, “Gideon, I want you to raise an army and go fight the Midianites so that we can throw off the oppression of these Midianites and set the people of Israel free to live.” It’s the same thing God wants for you and me, to be free of oppression and to live life to the fullest!