One of the stories from the Bible that I have always loved is the story of Gideon. It is the ultimate story of God reaching down and taking a guy who appears to be the least likely of leaders and turning him into a warrior with the honor of leading the original 300. I’ve heard and read the story a hundred times, but like so many times lately when I read God’s Word I am seeing something new.
The Call of Gideon
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, sir, 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?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
– Judges 6:11-16
Valor is defined as “boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle.” Not exactly the words you would think of using when describing a guy who is hiding in a winepress thrashing some wheat where he won’t be seen. Nevertheless, that is what the angel of the Lord called him. That just really stood out to me when I read it. “Man of valor?” Why would Gideon be described that way? I used to think it was God speaking through the angel with a little sarcastic tone in His voice. (We do tend to make God into our own image…) As I thought about it more, I began to think more about the people involved here and what they were doing.
Gideon – Hiding from his enemies, but still working. I don’t know if he was thrashing this grain for himself, his family, or for someone else, but in the middle of this oppression from the Midianites, he was still doing something rather than just sitting around and crying for help.
The Angel – Sent on a mission to deliver a message. Was the angel of the Lord actually Christ? Not sure. Doesn’t really matter for the sake of the account. The angel was there to do as it had been told, speak truth to Gideon.
God – The Creator of all mankind, the Jehovah God of the Israelite nation. All powerful, and all knowing.
The more I thought about it, I realized that when the angel spoke God’s words to Gideon, he was not speaking of the Gideon that stood before him. He was speaking of the warrior inside him. Even in the act of grinding out wheat in a secret place, he was acting with a determination to do something. I believe God had been looking at the nation of Israel to find the one who would lead His people into battle, and Gideon was just the guy He was looking for.
When the angel spoke, Gideon’s fear and frustration came out. “With us? What do you mean God is with us? Look around! I’m scraping together a little wheat for bread, and who knows when I will get caught? I’ve heard all the stories of how great God is, but where is He now? He is the one who put us in this mess with Midian.” Bold words. Possibly foolish words, but God saw the heart. He could see the determination in Gideon, and He wanted to draw that out.
Telling Gideon to go fight Midian on his own was God’s way to help Gideon understand that not only did God know the abilities of Gideon, but He also wanted Gideon to know that He knew Gideon understood his own limitations. “Fight on your own, Gideon, and you will fall, but I am not sending you out alone. Go with ME, and the entire army of Midian will fall as if it was a single man.”
Time and again in God’s Word we see Him use the lowly, the weak, the unassuming to do great things. God does this to bring the glory where it belongs – to Him! That is what we are created to do, and when we surrender our desires and our fears to allow ourselves to be used by God, He will do great things with us. It is our opportunity to join Him in His plan, His will, and sometimes, His miracles. Sometimes He just needs to come along and give us a little push.
I believe God used Gideon because he was doing something. It wasn’t a big thing, but it was something. That heart, that attitude is what God is looking for. He wants to see us determined. He wants to see us being Relentless about something. If we are moving and wanting to be used, God will use us!
I’ve had some very hard times over the years that have shaken my faith. At times I have wondered about God much like Gideon did. I just wanted to find a place to curl up and give up. It is just too hard. I quit… I never could completely quit though. Call it faith, stubbornness, habit, or whatever you want, but I kept trying to at least do something. I wish I could always say that I had nothing but God’s glory in mind, but it was usually not much more than maintaining the status quo as much as possible. Just keep on truckin’.
Whenever those moments would come, God would send someone along to say something though. It would be just the right thing to spark that determination in me again. The words would be there to give me hope, and in that hope I would dig into God and His Word, see His truth, His power, His promises, and I would be able to do something through Him that I could never accomplish on my own.
Valor is a word we don’t hear much anymore, but maybe we need to resurrect it. A life of Relentless Growth should be a life of valor. I know it is what I want in my life, and I want it for my son and my brothers in Christ. I’m not sure what God is going to do with me through the rest of my life, and there will be times that He will need to give me a push to get it rolling, but I hope that God will look on me as a man of valor. I hope I can influence others to that as well.
Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong