Drift Wood

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Never fails.  I set a goal to blog every week, and some big life thing happens that seems to stretch out forever.  It has, yet again, been two weeks, and I have not posted.  So, I endeavor to do so now!

I mentioned in past blogs that I had memorized Hebrews 11.  I finished it before 2016 ended, which was my goal.  Since then I have been seeking where to go next for memory work.  It’s not like there aren’t a lot of options, but I want what is best for me right now.

I expect I will head into James.  It is a short book, and there is so much in it on how to live, that I think it is just a MUST.

For this week, however, I am working on Hebrews 12:1-2.

In recent past, I quit my job and am still moving.  I never do one thing at a time.  Change comes as a tidal wave for me, or it doesn’t come at all.  I have been on automatic pilot, as a result, and I know God is okay with that.  There have been many times in my life where I was simply riding the waves, not really exploring anything that would deepen my walk, and I know that God gives such seasons of grace for us to just survive and lean on him, sheltered in his wings.

At such times, I have a vision of myself on a piece of drift wood, passed out, as I ride the crest and fall of every wave.  I am so thankful for the drift wood, which is God’s grace and protection; the shadow of his wings to use another image.

Now, however, I am being called back to exploration.  Time is past for automatic pilot, and it is time to re-engage in God’s word, as it is so very powerful, and soldiers do not advance without their armor and their weapons.  That would just be stupid right?  I know that his word is mightier than any sword.

12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Yet how many times do we head out into the things of the world without all our spiritual gear?  And then we wonder what the heck happened.  Why did I get hit?  Why wasn’t I effective?  God, where are you and why weren’t you there?

The Bible says he will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  So what happens?  Well, we are running off to battle every day, missing our gear.  If you do not have your helmet on, you might easily take a head wound.  No breastplate, and you will likely receive a chest wound.  If you are not carrying your sword, which is truth that can only come from the word of God and his enlightenment through it, you are not going to be able to defend yourself.

It kills me the number of Christians who are committed to God, yet never read his word.  But, for many years, I was one of those people.

I think it intimidated me.

I also think it overwhelmed me.

I have learned some things in working with God’s word that help.  The first thing I do is pray that God will give me insight into what I am reading.  Sometimes I go to the stories of the Bible.  There are so many.  I grab a name like, say, Samuel, look it up (if I don’t know where to find him) in the back of my Bible, and go read about this person.  I have also started memorizing scripture, as it gives me a solid reference point.  I have also found that recall for scripture is much quicker when I have it memorized, and recall is necessary in a spiritual battle.

The danger with being on automatic pilot is that we run the risk of staying, and when God calls us back to service, which includes delving into his word, we choose not to listen.  We are too busy being absorbed in our frailties, and the idea of getting up off our drift wood to swim to our destination, is not something we want to do.

You understand what I mean when I say “petrified Christians”?  These are people who have literally become part of their drift wood.  They are apathetic or rigidly unbending.  What they are not, are contributors to the kingdom of God.

We cannot allow ourselves to stay in that place where we do nothing and try to coast.  God will either bring something along that rudely dislodges us from our drift wood, or, if we tenaciously cling to it, He will leave us there to atrophy.

So, let us endeavor to seek God’s word one visual bite at a time.  You are welcome to join me in memory work.  At the beginning of this missive, I had planned to move into James, something you can certainly do, but I think after writing this blog, I may need to stay in Hebrews.  As I mentioned previously, Hebrews 12:1 is my verse for the week.

Join me!

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Selah

2012096

I have been in a holding pattern on this blog, it seems.  I originally started writing it as a means of sharing what I am learning in my delving into the Word of God.  That does not mean I have answers for anyone else by any stretch, but if something I have learned makes sense to someone else, so much the better.  AND I have so benefited from what others learn in their study time that I just wanted to share what God is doing in my life and what I am learning as well.

I have been in a place of sifting for the past two years. The sifter has been my job.  The Bible talks about sifting in more than one place, but the experience I have been in is referenced in Luke 22: 31-32.  31 “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

I have been in places of sifting off and on in my journey with God for over 3 decades.  The experience is painful, and I do not pretend to understand why it is necessary in the sense that maybe for me God determines it necessary to sift me repeatedly when he may not one of his other children.  Maybe I’m just a slow learner. That is very possible, but what I am seeing now, as I look back a ways down the path from which I have come, is a process taking shape.

You see in the scripture where Jesus is talking to Simon Peter, he tells him that Satan is wanting to sift; is asking to be allowed to sift, and he is given permission.  That tells me a lot.  For one thing, God does not do bad things to his children, but he allows it.  Is that semantics?

Well, yeah, but it is important.  I believe, in my finite little human mind, that it is all about adding dimension to us, and more specifically, to our faith.  After a lifetime of being in relationship with God, I have learned a few things about him and how he handles me.  I am exceedingly stubborn and self-sufficient, prone to hubris.  Those are not admirable traits in the walk with God.  I have been learning the hard way for a lifetime that I MUST rely on God, and I cannot attempt to procure my ending myself.

Because I tend to not “get it,” I believe God has allowed Satan to sift me, because even though God is working on these undesirable traits, he knows I can take it.  He knows I have been conditioned enough to handle the obstacle course, even though I’m gonna complain and groan my way through it.

So, I have been in a job that challenges my most fundamental character trait, my sense of justice.  What Satan has done, since he has also known me my whole life, was to make sure I felt helpless, and at every turn I was thwarted, betrayed, and impotent to stop what I was seeing, because he knows that combo triggers my animalistic nature.  I am no flight person.  It’s fight all the way, baby.  (Thank You Jesus, You gave me a husband who is a tough guy with a gentle nature!  He is wise!)  But he also knows, I have an illness that gets triggered in such fights.  He also knows if he goads me to take it all on on my own…I will.

I am happy to say that I began calling out to God from the beginning.  I struggled with my fundamental nature and my wanting to step out on my own and take things into my own hands, which, I confess, I did.  A lot.  But I also stepped back and asked for guidance.  I asked for help too.  Maybe not enough.  And I know for sure that I did not exhibit God’s grace at all near the end of the the two years.  I began falling apart mentally, as Satan knew I would because of the nature of the illness that impacts my life, but I did not fail to turn to God.  I cried out over and over for his rescue.

Yeshua, my rescuer.

What I have been learning VERY slowly is that God is not interested in me winning the human race.  All the things that people hold up as successful, God is not interested in cultivating in his warriors.  He is not interested in how many church services I attend or how many messages I take in from famous speakers.  He does not care how much spiritual jargon I can spew or how many “encounters” I can say I have had with him if it does not change me to be more reliant on him.

I’m gonna tell you right now, this was ugly.  I have been praying since the first month I started my job to be released.  I committed to two years, and he has held me to it, to the day.  But he is faithful, and even though I made a mess of so many things in trying to get away and stop the wheat threshing I have been experiencing, he has been faithful in releasing me.

Satan has been right there with me as well, even sending someone along to tell me what a sinner I have been.  The truth is that I have sinned.  It’s really not about my sinning.  I’m human.  It happens.  He knows better than anyone that if he wants perfection, he better not send me.  But, my heart is good, and when he told me to love the people I worked for, he knew I would do it.

He knew I would screw up as well, which is why he provided Romans 8:28: 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  He did it so that I would know that my sin in the midst of serving, in a place I never would have chosen for myself but that I went to in obedience, he would erase and work out all of it in spite of my blunders and mishandling; because my heart longs for him and I confess what I break.

One day I woke up and asked as I had every day, “Is it done?  Is it over?  Can I leave?”  One day he said, “Do it,” and so I did.

I will never know if there was another reason, really.  I know He told me to go, cleared the path so specifically that there was no misunderstanding.  I was an intellectual stepping into a world political agendas absent of common sense.  The people I worked with were beautiful and many from families I have known my whole life.  I will never know if there was a purpose outside the sifting I encountered.  The facility will close back over itself, absorbing my empty presence as though I was never there.  But Oh Man, did it grow me.  I learned, really learned how to swing a sword of truth in a sea of deceit.

Maybe that is what I was sent to do.  I didn’t do it well.  Bad form rather too often, but there were specific moments when God told me very directly to speak to those who seem to be rather full of their own significance, not considering those they are to be leading, and I did.  I will never know what God will do with that.  It’s really none of my business.

Footnote…

I gave my resignation when God impressed upon me to do so, and interestingly enough, it was before I had another job.  So I step from one stone of faith onto another I can’t see.  I have no idea what is round the corner, but I can tell you that, sin and all, I passed the sifting.  Satan did not take me out.  Oh, he pulled out all the stops, but in the midst of the fog I fell back on the foundation that was reinforced by God’s direction that I memorize the 40 verses of Hebrews 11.

Faith

I choose to be sure of what I hope for and I choose to be certain of what I cannot see.

I am sure that God is faithful to finish what he started in me (Phil 1:6)

I am certain he has a plan for a hope and a future just for me (Jer 29:1)

Selah

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising the Dead

jayms

If you were to ask my sister what she wants most in life, she would likely tell you she would like to raise the dead. Seriously.  I can’t think of a more worthy desire than that can you?

But my sister believes she has been unable to raise the dead.  Now, no matter your faith origin, you have to admit that raising the dead is up there in the category of mythology with all the super heroes.  She is not a myth, so she does not raise the dead.

She is wrong.  And I am going to explain why…

This blog is not generally where I write about mental health topics, mainly my misadventures with mental illness.  I have another blog where I write specifically about mental health.  This blog is about my faith and what I learn about my walk with the Creator.  I keep them separate because I have two different audiences I serve, but here is the rub…

I fully believe that I am resilient after edging on three decades of hard core battle with mental illness because of hope, and I cannot sustain hope when I’m sitting on the metaphorical (or literal) edge.  I can’t purchase it, and I can’t fabricate it.  Yet hope is what lifts me to my feet when I am down.  Where do I get it then?

I get it from God.  His brand of hope is best.

Those of us who are “entertaining” mental illness have had encounters with the psychiatric community.  The United States has high stats for mental illness and abysmal treatment by comparison.  There are just too many holes in a model that perpetuates relapse.  So we and our loved ones are continually searching for effective treatments in the form of medicology and psychology.

Let me explain what it is like to encounter the need to be dead over and over until it is your normal.  It is a dread that rolls in like fog.  You can see it from a distance, and terror overtakes you as you are reminded that you will experience  a hundred deaths before it is over, and if you manage to physically survive, you will have lost more than you had before it hit.  You know this to be true, and you accept it.

It is one thing to experience a round of depression (and please don think I minimize such an experience), but it is quite another to experience the black nothingness of despair, disillusionment, and discouragement that hits because the chemicals are just not playing nice with one another.  Over and over again.

There are two natural environmental things I can compare this experience to.  One is standing in a large cave or enormous room in pitch black.  The other is standing in the total white out of a blizzard.  I have been in both, and if you have you will remember that the longer you stand in those two environments the more you lose your place, your equilibrium, your bearings.  Panic sets in, because we are not made to not have our senses alert us to what is going on, and in the two scenarios I mentioned, the senses become heightened to the point of shutdown.  This total loss of equilibrium is what it is like upon entering the black night of depression that leads ultimately to the loss of desire to live and the desperation that accompanies suicide.

My sister wants to raise the dead.

And she does.

Do you hear me, Jayme?  This is a word for you.  You are raising the dead every time you get on that phone or meet that person in crisis who is just d.o.n.e. done.  Every time you intervene.

Just as Sarah’s womb was dead with no life, and God sent an angel to help “raise” it to life to sustain a life, you walk into that world every day, and you help raise the lives of those whose will to live is dead back to life.  You bring them hope.

You have done it for me twice in 2016, and that is one year out of nearly 3 decades of mental illness for me.

You are raising the dead.

God is faithful.  I know you didn’t need me to tell you that, but I know he wants me to tell you this, not only for me, but for those many many people who can’t thank you or won’t realize until much farther down the road what you have done for them.

The dry bones may have come to life in Ezekiel, but Jesus said in John that “you will do greater things.”  You are not watching dry bones dance.  You are reaching in and pulling people out of the dark.

You are raising the dead.

Thank you for working in crisis intervention.  Thank you for being willing to go where few go and God has sent you.  What you are doing is rippling out beyond where you can see.

Happy New Year.  May you be blessed and encouraged as you continue in that very special vocation of life restoration.

I love you.

 

Holiday for Joy

I am keeping the holiday week post short, as I am spending time reflecting and dealing with some health issues, but one thing I have been pondering, and I wanted to briefly touch on it here.

I woke up on Christmas Day thinking about this blog and wondering if I should post.  But when I started thinking about what I should write, what I could write about the season, I became overwhelmed with the options.

I know that when I sit down to write a blog and I find my mind a clutter rather than clear, it is not from God.  When I receive something from him it is abundantly clear, and I can’t write fast enough.  So I have very little this week to offer up in terms of content except the following…

People celebrate Christmas for various reasons.  Some celebrate it to commemorate the birth of Jesus.  Some celebrate to the idea of Santa Claus.  Some celebrate to give and receive gifts.  Some celebrate because it is a time to feel good and to be around loved ones while eating excessively!

One thing I see that is consistent in all those reasons is the end product of joy.  For each of those reasons for celebrating the Christmas season there is a need to experience joy for a even a brief time.  As a Christian, I know what Christmas means, but I embrace all those other things I mentioned above as well.  I also marvel at the zeal in which I see people who do not believe as I do express themselves and fully embrace the holiday.

God is ever teaching me about grace in every moment of my life, and in doing so he is schooling me on the by-product, joy. During the Christmas season he has brought some very specific people and situations to my mind that have forced me to focus on whether I am able to give as I should in celebration,  or if I have quit extending grace to certain people because of my frustration with them which has endangered my ability to give with a thankful heart.  If I cannot extend his grace, I cannot give, and if I cannot give, I cannot experience joy.

See, I think the common factor, no matter our reason for celebrating Christmas, is that we want a season of joy.  We want to feel peace and comfort.  We want to laugh and be frivolous with those we love.  I think the difference is that if you believe in the shallow, that is the level at which you will experience joy, and it will last for only a short season.  But if you believe in something more sustaining, your joy will sustain as well, and it is the component of grace you can only receive from God that will carry you further in your joy past and through that which would steal it.

 

He Sings Over You

zephaniah_3_17

Do you know God sings over you with joy?  I am trying to imagine what God sounds like when he is singing.  I just can’t, and to further try to imagine His singing being about me just short circuits my synapses.  I come back to one question.

Why?

Why would he sing over me?

This little scripture is power packed with story.  Judah finally had a king in Josiah who was willing seek the ways of God.  They had had two kings, Manessah and Amon who were just vile.  They had led God’s children, who were so easily “led down the garden path” in spite of the fact the God had proven his love and provision for them over and over again.  So Josiah was attempting to reverse the worshiping of Baal and paganism to bring them all back under God’s blessing.

In that time the prophet who was delivering God’s messages to the people was Zephaniah.  And if you read the book of Zephaniah, which is, in fact, the message God gave him to deliver to the people, it may be short but much like the above referenced verse, it lays it all out with no frills and is powerful.

The first two chapters are about God letting the people know just what he is going to do to them for disobeying him, and I have to tell you I think this may be where the phrase, “putting the fear of God in” came from.  Zephaniah pulls no punches as he explains the day of judgment coming for Judah.

In chapter three there is what I perceive as a pivotal part of the dissertation in verse 3, where Zephaniah says, ” Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.  Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.”  Makes me think, “Okay, so God is maybe going to spare those who have attempted to follow him.”  And it also tells us that it wasn’t the whole of Judah turning away from God.  There were those who maintained his ways and walked in humility and righteousness.

Finally, in the third chapter we see that God has referenced hope, and in verse 17, not only is there hope for Judah but this scripture speaks to all the generations.  In it is not only the promise of forgiveness but so much more.

Do you know God is with you?

It sometimes seem that the limb we are swinging from is one we are on all by ourselves, and rather often we know we have gotten there of our own doing.  But sometimes we find ourselves out on a limb swinging away due to someone else’s decisions that have impacted us, and whether the wind is a freezing Nor’easter or a mild Zephyr, the fact that we are out there blowing around on our own renders volume or temperature superfluous. Verse 17 is help in so many words.

The first line is simple, “The Lord your God is with you.”  Stop there if you must.  That should be enough to help move you to the knowledge that you are not hanging but grasped in the hands of Almighty God, and coupled with his promise from Hebrews 13:5 that he will never leave you or forsake you should give you nothing if not hope that you are not alone.

The second part of verse 17 tells us that God is more than able to rescue us from catastrophe that befalls us.  “He is a mighty warrior who saves,” and I don’t know about you, but this living life thing is brutal.  When I am promised God, the mighty warrior to save me, I’m going to hold out my arms and await the rescue.

Not only will he rescue us, but “he will delight in us.”  He will take great delight in us.  Wow.  Can’t think of any reason I gave God this week to greatly delight in me.  As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any reason, ever, for God to take great delight in me.

And yet the scripture says he does.  It is true, this scripture was written specifically to Judah, but these scriptures are prophetic, which means they span time and space.  That means the application and lesson may be about a certain time, place, and people, but the meat is for all of God’s children to read and learn from.  The story endures for us to experience and learn.

So not only is God with us and delights in us, but the next part of verse 17 says he will “no longer rebuke you in his love.”  The NIV Life Application says, “he will quiet you with his love.” This translation speaks to me more, as I find the concept of quiet correlative to rest and solitude.  It is generally what I need most when I am at the end of myself, and to think that God’s love can reach out to that which is fractious in me and quiet it with his love, is so very appealing, hopeful, and humbling.

Then the verse says the thing that just blows my mind, “he will rejoice over you with singing.”  Seriously?  Singing?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t generally struggle with confidence.  I know who I am; my strengths and weaknesses, and I will pat myself on the back when I know I have done well at something I have worked for, but I NEVER sing over me.  I would not even consider there to be something I have accomplished that would warrant me singing my praises…

So I cannot begin to fathom why God would.

But, then, I don’t think this little line is about accolades and pats on the back.  I believe that this little line is about the essence of the creation he made; you. Me.  It is the fact that he rejoices over each one of us, because each on of us is his favorite creation and he loves to delight over us.  He loves to sing over us, and I firmly believe that he sings blessing, protection, strength, and hope.  In fact, I think he sings things over us we do not have vocabulary to define.

God is with you, saves you, delights in you, quiets you with his love, and

God sings over you with joy.

 

God is My Shepard: Insights From the 23rd Psalm

 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

(The Message)

I always think of Psalm 23 as “The Death Chapter.”  I mean, it seems that it is rather often spoken at grave sites and funerals.  Whenever there is a traumatic scene where a funeral and a church are involved, they are reading the 23rd Psalm.

I am a fan of Jason Upton.  I listen to him a lot, and he has a song called Psalm 23.  He has a way of singing scripture that leaves it raw and yet whole.  I realized recently that when I listen to this song which, as you may have guessed, is about Psalm 23, I do not listen to it in the context one might think. Oblige me as I pontificate…

I have recently come to think of this scripture differently than as “The Death Chapter”.  I realized one day that I was using it was warfare.  It is not some lazy little portion of scripture that sits by idly until we need comfort.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it is comforting, and comfort is good!  But, it is also a club we can pick up and fight with.

Most people, no matter the spiritual background, are familiar with the 23rd Psalm.  “The Lord is my Shepard…”  reverberates through the memory banks and transcends many other texts we have heard.  And yet, how much do we actually use the scripture?

The version of the scripture I have posted above is lesser known from the Message, but no less poignant.  I think it paints a very vivid image, and for those who are unfamiliar with the Message, don’t discount it because of its construction.  It was written with much knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew and is exceedingly eloquent, textual, and vivid.

“…you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”

Wow.  I love the wording of that.  There are so many days I just need to STOP.

Stop the push and pull.  Stop the obligations and expectations.  Stop the performance and the accomplishments.  Stop resisting.  Stop fighting. Stop the fatigue.

Stop.  And catch my breath.

What do you stop?  What do you do to catch your breath?

And not only do I, we, have permission to stop, but then He will send us in the right direction.  And I think it is not coincidence in the set up of that scripture there.  Is it possible we miss the right direction because we do not allow ourselves to catch our breath?  Maybe we don’t hear what God is saying and how he is directing because we won’t slow down and take a breath.

“Your beauty and love chase after me.”

Again.  Wow.  That brings me to tears just to read.  It seems fantastical that not just God, but specifically, his Beauty and his Love chase after me, us.  Wow.  Just wow.  You know why I say that?

Because I know what a vile little shrew I so often am.  I know that that there are times the fallible people around me can hardly stand me, so how can the perfect God of the universe not only look at me but have his love and beauty chase me around.

Seriously?

Hard to wrap my head around.  But here is the lesson therein.  We are so busy looking to others and seeking approval that we are lovable and beautiful and worthy, when Psalm 23 says that God’s beauty and love is chasing us around.

What does that even mean?

I will tell you what it means to me.  It means that each day I live, I am renewed with the beauty of Almighty Yahweh.  It means that no matter how I am treated or even how I treat myself, his love endures through every moment of my human life.  It is like a heat seeking missile, and as long as I draw breath, it will find me.

Verse 4 says, “I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.”

If you are a person who deals with the darkness of life on a regular basis, no matter how fearless you are by nature, there comes a point when the human factor simply isn’t enough to combat some of the monsters crouching in the dark.  This chapter is about stepping into those dark places knowing that the kind of fear that is elicited from what lurks in those depths can only be negated by God alone. Knowing that even though you walk into darkness, with God you will walk back out into the light again at some point.

It is God walking with me that helps me step fearlessly into what would consume human strength.  That is how this scripture moved from a poem to a living breathing torch full of permission, comfort, protection, and hope for me.  It now breaths into the icy chill that life sometimes is, bringing a flicker of light to the dark night.

It is not difficult to understand why this Psalm is popular at funerals, for it is often at funerals where we find ourselves in the darkest night of loss we can image. That is why the scripture is iconic for the lost and mourning, and why it endures not only as solace but as a weapon.

 

 

Gideon: Rescuer

We left Gideon (in the last blog) finally convinced that the direction he has been getting is coming from God.  Through this revelation we have learned about fleeces in the context of testing and can understand their use when trying to make certain the direction we feel we are getting is coming from God.

Now, we look at the action part of this story.  Gideon is now ready lead an army as God has directed.  Judges 7 starts out with God giving direction by telling Gideon he has too many men.  In verse 2 we find that the reason God doesn’t want Gideon to use a big army is because God wants to show Israel that he is the rescuer and deliverer.  He wants to make certain they know, when it’s all said and done, just whose hand delivered them.

He has Gideon announce that any of the men who are afraid to fight must leave and go home.  22 thousand take off, leaving 10 thousand men (v. 3).  Still that is too many, so God has Gideon take the remaining 10 thousand to the river for a drink.  Those who kneel and cup the water into their mouths are sent home. Those who get down on their bellies and lap the water like dogs are kept.  That whittles the numbers down to 300 (v.7).

Meanwhile, in the enemy camp, one individual is telling his friend about a dream he has just had where a loaf of barley bread comes tumbling down a hill and plows into a tent and causes it to overturn. The friend interprets the dream and explains that the dream is about Gideon and that the whole camp has been delivered into his hands.

Gideon, who God has sent on a reconnaissance mission hears the dream AND the interpretation and knows that it’s a done deal.  He rallies his band of warriors, telling them God has delivered the enemy into their hands, and they head out (v. 15).

I think this next part is ingenious.  God has Gideon divide the army into three companies.  He has each of them carry a trumpet and an empty jar with torches inside them.  They surrounded the camp and all together blow their trumpets and smash their jars crying, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”(v.20)

The enemy is caused to be thrown into a state of confusion (Nice having God on your side isn’t it?), and they turn on each other.  Long story, short, the enemy is vanquished.

A couple of interesting things I ponder in this last part of Gideon’s story.

First, why were they to cry “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon“?  I mean, God made it a point to stack the deck so far against Israel, just to be able to show that HE was what the victory was all about.  So why have them throw Gideon’s name in there?  Why had the person in the enemy camp dreamed that the sword of Gideon was coming for them all?  Why not the sword of the Lord?”

Second, what does this story show us in the here and now?

For the first, I am certain there are many ideas on why God did that and none of them wrong.  For me, I like to think that God cared about Gideon, personally.  I believe that he saw Gideon’s heart and knew there was no hubris.  So, he was good with allowing acknowledgement for a man who was so willing to do what he asked in the humblest manner.  Plus he was wise enough to check and make sure that he was actually getting his direction for God.  There was, after all, so much at stake.

And the second part can then dovetail off of the first.  For me, much of that practical application is a directive on how to best serve God.  I so often hear people, and I have done so as well, asking what they should do or how to know what God wants for them.  I think that this story shows that it is never about how insurmountable something appears.  If we have God on our side, he can always make a way.

We must seek him, ask and wait for confirmation that it is he who is directing us.  Once we have confirmation, we must look to him to show us exactly how to go about accomplishing what we are doing, always remembering it is never about us and our skills.  The victory always belongs to the Lord.

Through that acknowledgement, we may find ourselves winning something far greater than our original goal.  We may find our names being announced alongside that of Yashuea, the Rescuer.