Friday, June 6, 2008

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Courage

The Lord had called Gideon “a mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12 KJV), and so he appeared to be, as he boldly opposed the idolatry in his family and town, and then summoned an army of 32,000 with trumpet and messengers. Then . . . he realized . . . They were going out against an enemy “as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number . . .” (Judges 6:5).

What about the doubt and fear that hits us when embarking on a task God has given us? Does it mean something is wrong with us? Or is it a natural response to the realization that the God-size commission we have received has put us in “way over our heads?” Is it the sober realization that if we get out of touch somehow with God we will get stomped? That only a miracle will accomplish what the Lord has called us to do?

The Lord is not like those who “load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and . . . will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46). He graciously granted Gideon assurance. When he first appeared to Gideon, he touched Gideon’s offering, causing it to burst into flame. This sign that it truly was God who had called him, emboldened Gideon to destroy his father’s idols. After that, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon (Judges 6:32)” and he called together a large army. Then, before heading into battle, he granted Gideon’s request to give him a sign (a fleece to be covered with dew, but the ground around to be dry) . . . and then another sign (the fleece to be dry, but the ground covered with dew). Finally, when the Lord stacked the odds against Israel by whittling their troops down from 32,000 to a mere 300, he sent Gideon down by night to the Midianite camp to “listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp” (Joshua 7:11). There Gideon overheard a soldier tell of a dream in which Israel symbolically destroys the Midianites. Full of grateful worship, he hurried back to camp to carry out the Lord’s orders for a miraculous rout of the enemy.

The inspiring thing about Gideon is that, even though he had the same lack of self-esteem as many of us do, and even though he met—at each stage—fear and doubt, he didn’t consider that a good excuse to stop. He said, “God, please work with me on this fear, so I can put my trust in you and take the next step.”

Have we ever considered our inadequacies greater than God’s power? Have we ever thought that surely a task could not be for us if it causes anxiety or discomfort? God sees us as “well able” (Numbers 13:30 KJV). Will we determine to agree, and follow; and keep agreeing and following, as Gideon did?
This is an excerpt from Streams of Living Water: A Daily Devotional Guide to Meditation on God's Word by F. Burleigh Willard Sr. and Celia Willard Milslagle (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2007).

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