GIDEON – Man  of Valor

“OK, you brought me through the obstacles to get here, but now that the show is about to go down, will you be with me then, too?” 

 Gideon wasn’t afraid to ask questions or to confront, even an angel of the Lord. Although he didn’t know it, he was a man of valor. God did not give up on him but consistently led him so that eventually through his actions, Gideon blessed the people of Israel, delivering them out of oppression resulting from disobedience and back into God’s favor.

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you.” Gideon’s immediate response was akin to a phrase we often say today, “Yeah, right,” meaning, I hear you, but I don’t really believe what you’re saying! Gideon was not afraid to confront even the angel of the Lord and ask, in so many words, if the Lord is with us, why are we in this condition, then? The Lord just kept going—He always knows He is right. He didn’t explain why they were in that position to Gideon just then—Gideon likely already knew, as this pattern of disobedience and punishment had gone on in Israel for quite some time. The angel simply urged Him to go, with his “might” (a declaration from God of what Gideon had, although he didn’t see it himself) and “save Israel from the hand of Midian.” Furthermore, he reminded Gideon that it was God Himself who was sending him to do such a thing. 

At this point, Gideon realized he was hearing from the Lord, but in his human weakness, he still protested, telling God he was in the weakest clan of Manasseh and the least within his own family. God, in His supreme patience, gave Gideon further encouragement and assured him that he would not be alone. God would be with Gideon, and when Gideon fought the Midianites, it would be as if he was fighting one man. Wow. Think about that … what if all the obstacles I think are in the way of me publishing my first book are all really as one thing?

Did Gideon jump up and down and say, “Yes! Let’s get ’em now”? Nope. He needed some everyday, concrete, bona fide proof that if he were to be bold enough to fight the Midianites, God would come through. He even went back into doubting it was God in the first place, and said, if this is really you show me a sign. 

Of course, God passed Gideon’s tests with brilliant colors and even allowed Gideon to see His angel vanish right in front of him! That, you might think, should have been more than enough! 

Then God had a test of his own, one of obedience, where he asked Gideon to tear down the altar of Baal that his people had been worshiping. Gideon knew this would anger the people but he did it anyway. Your decisions may not always be popular, but if God says do it, then do it. 

Now Gideon fully trusted that this was God; and God knew He could trust Gideon to be obedient, so “the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon,” and he gathered the warriors he needed. Before Gideon was bold enough to do the unthinkable and tear down their altar of Baal, the people weren’t even thinking of going against the enemy—the one whose gods had become theirs. But now they saw God’s hands upon Gideon and followed him, preparing for battle.

Even with troops backing him, Gideon had more tests for God! What does this mean? Could this have just been Gideon’s way of checking in and saying, “OK, you brought me through the obstacles to get here, but now that the show is about to go down, will you be with me then, too?” The strongest human would probably have been exacerbated by this time. God’s response? He simply did what Gideon asked, assuaging his unease about the upcoming battle and strengthening him to keep moving toward it. God is rooting for you. He knows that sometimes you need both spiritual and natural signs to forge ahead with what He’s told you to do—even if He’s already revealed to you that you are on the right path. That’s just our human nature. So don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep doing what Gideon did: check with God. You will need His detailed counsel, His wisdom and His strategy. God’s words do not lie; they do not return void. What has He told you lately? Are you still testing Him at His word? Or do you now believe it?

What could Gideon possibly say, after all his tests were met as yes and amen from God? I believe that God placed such detail of Gideon’s story in His word because He knew we would be able to relate to Gideon. In our human limitations and our doubt, fear and worry, sometimes we need more than just a word we think is from the Lord; we need to test it and make doubly sure. I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. On the surface, a judgmental person might see this as, “You aren’t trusting God.” But think deeper. Perhaps Gideon just wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, and knowing the great feats the Lord had shown Israel in the past, if this same God was indeed the one running the show he was about to start, then who could stop Gideon? If you knew beyond a doubt that this same God, who parted the red sea for Moses and the Jordan River for Joshua, was going to be with you in all His power when you go to the battle—when you send your song demo to producers, or open your doors for business, or send your book manuscript to chosen agents—then there would be no hesitation and you would be, as my good friend Lisa always says, “All in!” 

So now Gideon has encamped his men, weeded down from 32,000 to 300. You can do the same: Just ask God and He will sort out the wheat from the chafe of all the choices you have to help get your assignment accomplished. So, now Gideon and his 300 warriors are ready for the showdown. Yet, Gideon is still a bit wary. God knows this, but this time, He offers Gideon assurance even before he can ask! He allows him to overhear what happens in a dream—by the enemy—as well as its interpretation, which points to Gideon’s victory, even naming him in the interpretation. Gideon worships God in thanksgiving and relief. Now he is as ready as he will ever be, and he moves that very night in obedience to God. 

Here’s one of my favorite parts about this moving story: When Gideon’s 300 men were obedient to him and followed his exact instructions, they didn’t even have to actually fight to win the war! God not only went with Gideon but fought for him! When the enemy heard the trumpets blow from Gideon’s men, they were afraid. Perhaps they thought to themselves that surely there must be a great number of Israelites about to attack if so many trumpets are summoning the men for battle! So afraid, that they were obviously bewildered, for they turned and fought each other! Those not killed from that melee turned and ran, and the Israelites were able to pursue, capture and subdue. 

Likewise, you can pursue your dream with confidence. Be sure to check with God at every step, listen for His specific instructions, and go! Step out there. And God will say to you, as he did to Gideon: “…but I will be with you … peace be to you … do not fear.” 

For the full story of Gideon, read Judges 6 and 7 in the Bible. 

 

First Dust Then Life 

“… I’m at the bottom of the well with no rope, and no one can hear me. I feel awful and I’m mad at God. Thanks for asking. Bye.”

When you’re down in the dust of life, at your lowest point, in the dirt, a natural reaction is to feel as if there is no hope. You wonder why God is seemingly ignoring you. Your friends can’t help because the depth of the dirt clinging to their feet is just an inch lower than yours. Most of the people at church echo roughly the same thing: “Hello! I’m blessed and highly favored; how are you?” And as you consider your circumstance, truthfully, you should say, “Terrible. I’m at the bottom of the well with no rope, and no one can hear me. I feel awful and I’m mad at God. Thanks for asking. Bye.” But instead, you give the obligatory response: “Wonderful! Doing well. Be Blessed!” And you walk away, dirt cloud wafting up and up and up …

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground …” 

God began His creation of man in the dust. His work of art needed to begin at the root. Dust does not look appealing; consequently, we swish it away and are embarrassed when it’s seen in our homes. It belongs outside, and in fact, in “civilized” societies, most of it is covered by vast concrete jungles. There is a limited amount that remains, only to shelter the grass, herbs and trees. Although unpleasant and messy, dirt is a necessary growth stimulant. When the vegetation, the herbs and the fruit grow, we marvel at the natural beauty and the sweetness—and we eat it! We forget that before beauty, there was dirt, and even mud when mixed with water. When dirt gets in our way, we scoff and clean. If we’re in a big hurry, we may even sweep it under a rug, anything to keep the unsightly from being seen.

Most dust is under your feet. It’s on the ground, down low, constantly trod upon. Just like you may feel sometimes—smashed by humanity emotionally, financially, mentally, even physically. Furthermore, you may feel like God Himself turned His back and shook the dust off His feet, leaving you there to wallow in … the dust.

“… and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life …” 

Just as plants and trees grow and become useful, and therefore have value (that’s been there all along), so too, can you! First you have to be nourished in the dust. Something magical happens there. Perhaps it’s like wine in the fermenting process, clay in a potter’s hand, or a man when God decides to reveal his purpose. So, God singles you out, sees you in your dust—for you have claimed it personally by now—and breathes on you. He gives you favor with man, institutions, governments and kings. Now the dust rolls off effortlessly as you stand taller and your life welcomes increase once again. The breath of life deposited by God within your spirit dances freely,

 “… and man became a living soul.” 

If your current circumstance has you wallowing in the dust, take heart. For that’s where God plants, nourishes, builds, grows … life. Your life—the life you were meant to live—awaits. Be patient and allow this cycle of development, proof perfect since the dawn of creation, to run its course. No, it doesn’t matter what you did to get there, who or what caused your downfall, or under what societal conditions you landed in the dust. God is waiting for you to stop writhing, lest you shake off too much of His nourishment, His wisdom. Inhale slowly and steadily as He breathes into you, learning every nugget and lesson intended for this phase of your life. Do what He says, go where He says to go. And when God decides that His creation is ready, you shall burst forth anew, in full bloom and brilliance, as He intended.

Welcome the dust in your life, for in it, a glorious creation is underway. Selah.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7

Listen: Mountains & Hills

… many people were running into the forest, most with just the clothes on their backs …

A Dream, an Interpretation, and a Word

The Dream
Scene 1:

I was outside, very high up on a mountain with jagged edges. I could see other mountains all around me, some snow-capped. There were children playing around me, various races. They were running to and fro, chasing each other, and running  dangerously right up to the edge. It appeared as if they were running to the edge on purpose, pretending as if they were going to run off and fall, and then another kid running directly behind them would pull them back just in time. I was observing them and wondering why they were being so careless with their lives. They were laughing a lot and seemed to be having a lot of fun. They were not taking the danger seriously at all; in fact, it seemed as if they were being flippant about it.

Scene 2:

I was outside, this time on ground level. There was a hill nearby, maybe a couple hundred yards away. There were several people standing in various places on the hill. All of a sudden, it began to move as if someone were on the other side pushing it. The people began to run down the hill to get off it because it was moving. They were afraid. I began running as well with them. The only place to go was into a forest. The forest was not very thick, but many people were running into the forest, most with just the clothes on their backs, and some with a few items they had grabbed before running from wherever they came from. As we ran deeper and deeper into the forest, we ran across several areas where people had decided to just camp out where they could. I kept going until I got to an area that looked safe, a clearing of sorts. In this section, the forest floor seemed to be carpeted, with some soft material over the ground, with various pastel colors, going around trees as if perfect circles had been cut out for the trees. Several people were laying down and some were asleep. It was quiet and peaceful, and so I decided to stay there as well.

Scene 3:

I was some place inside with another female and a  guy I was dating. He seemed rather young. I was sitting across from the other two on a small couch. The scenery appeared to be a sitting area inside the lobby of a building. I believe other people were milling about around us, but not closely. Apparently, I had, had a  serious  argument with my boyfriend. He and I, as well as the other lady, had some sort of short swords in our hands. Both of them held the sword out in the center toward me. Somehow there was an agreement that if I also touched my sword in the middle with theirs, that he and I would be finished and could kill each other or fight to the death. I don’t believe I wanted to, but I think I felt forced to also put my sword out and touch his. And everyone knew what that meant. However, the next minute our swords were down, and he began walking toward me, but not in a threatening way. He came closer and closer so that his face was very close to my face, and our lips were almost touching. I stood very still and didn’t say a word. Then he puckered his lips to brush mine briefly, and I hesitated slightly but also followed suit. So, then we were OK and were no longer going to fight or kill each other.

The Symbolic Interpretation of This Dream
  1. We are ‘playing dangerously’ with the things of God. To choose Him is to choose eternal life, but not to choose Him is to choose  ultimate and final death. People are laughing at this concept, ignoring its truth, and don’t realize how dangerously close they are too losing their life, for all eternity—when they could actually save it.
  2. God gives us warnings in life. If we heed the warnings, we will arrive at a safe place in Him. Although chaos will occur around us in the world, we will have peace.
  3. There will come a time when others, including people you are close to, will be at great odds with you about God, maybe even to the point of threats against you. However, if you  remain steadfast in the ways of God, even in the midst of such turmoil, all shall be well.
A Word
Listen to what the Spirit of the Lord has spoken:

Naked you are before me. I see all. I hear your thoughts before they become words. There is no rock on earth I cannot see. No sea who’s depth I do not know. No bird flies or eats without my knowledge. Do you recognize who I am? I am your loving God—with an outstretched hand before you. Will you choose my eternal love? Or will you wait and test my wrath?