So if you have been reading my blogs (and thank you very much), you will have read Rescuing Gideon. The story of Gideon is so good! There are so many life-applicable truths within!
I spoke in my last blog about accountability. Gideon was so ready to say to God, “How could you abandon us like this!!!” I can hear him, wailing the sentence in desperation. That’s most likely because I have heard myself doing the same. But the truth of the matter was that Israel was suffering the consequences of their actions. God had told them, “Don’t worship any other god before me,” and they didn’t listen.
I have heard this come from people so often, and once again I must cop to the fact that I have done so as well. I try to do my own thing. I make decisions that either I haven’t consulted God on or have simply thumbed my nose at him when he told me to go a different route. And then I rail at the outcome. “God how could you let this happen to me?”
Dontcha love me, Abba?
And the answer is never changing. “I love you with an everlasting love.” But it’s the second part that humbles me. “Therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 ET). And the reason it humbles me is because I know he is saying he is faithful in spite of the fact that I have not been faithful to him.
There have been many times in the past when I have stepped outside of God’s will for my life; times when I have willfully and purposefully disobeyed. And he has ever been faithful when I have come back. He has loved me with an everlasting love.
As he loves you.
But here is the kicker. When I disobey; when I go off on a trail of my own making, there is grace and forgiveness just for me when I cry for help. BUT there are also consequences. There are ramifications for my willfulness, not because God wants to punish me, but because he has tried to protect me from that which would render those consequences. But he isn’t going to force me. I am not a hostage.
You have heard of cause and effect, right? Step back from your life for a moment and look at where it is at right now. Whatever is going on didn’t just happen to you. Where your life is right now is a result of a web of choices made over time by you and those in your life who have impacted you. Good. Bad. They are effects of a decision somewhere that caused them.
And that is what Israel refused to lock and load on. They did it over an over again. They refused to see that the bad things weren’t just happening to them. Their history is a record set on repeat. Over and over the same scenario played and is still playing. They cry out to Yashuea. He rescues them. He tells them to love him over everything else. They get lazy, selfish, and indulgent. They replace him with idols. He warns them of the consequences of their actions, and they choose to ignore Him. Back to bondage.
Rinse and repeat.
And here is the thing. We do the same thing. I do the same thing. Gideon just said what everyone was thinking.
And what did God do? He gave the thing perhaps humans crave most in times of crises. He gave Gideon something to do. He gave him a plan of action.
God tells him, (some theologians believe it was actually Jesus who came and sat under the tree and spoke to Gideon because of the way the text is presented) “Go in the strength you have, and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
God puts the responsibility back to Gideon. He doesn’t waste time mincing words. He just tells him, “Go get it.”
Gideon, after lamenting to God; after letting God know how much he had failed Israel (remember this is from my perspective of Gideon’s perspective), God gives him a solution and turns it back to Gideon. If I were writing the dialogue I might insert here, “You are so sure I abandoned you? Let me fix that. I will send YOU.”
Well maybe he didn’t like that thought so much. Again if I were writing the dialogue based on Gideon’s thoughts, I would imagine him thinking, “Whoa. Wait a second. I was just asking for help and letting you know where you failed us. I never planned on you sending me. That is so not gonna work…”
What the scripture actually states in verse 15 is a list Gideon presents to God of why he is not the one to go. Reminds me a lot of what Moses said to God. And it reminds me a lot of things I have said to God. “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord says, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” (verse 16)
This is a beautiful piece of the story. Do you see it? This is ancient story, applicable to right now.
How many times have we, you, me, cried out to God, and in hubris and desperation, have combined a cry for help with an accusation. And God being, well, God, doesn’t grab us by the throat (although I confess he has had to grab me a time or two as I tend to be rather stupid). He just, in one action or statement, presents us with a solution.
But here is what Gideon missed.
God gave him a solution and he also empowered him. “Am I not sending you?”(v. 14) This is huge. When the God of the universe says, “Am I not sending you,” I assure you, the question is rhetorical. He is not asking who is doing the sending. He is saying, “You have all you need because I am sending you.”
Makes the hair stand up on my arms, frankly, because I know for a fact he has done the same with me, and I have missed it every stinking time. There was power in that statement. There was the power of the God of every generation packed in that statement. The power of a God who decides the final outcome.
And here is where I leave you for this missive…
There is a reason Gideon’s story is in God’s Word. There is a reason your story is in the world. God has a plan for you. In spite of you. He is not limited by anything finite.
And neither are you.
We are who we allow God to make us. And no matter how many times we “rinse and repeat” our scenario before we realize that obedience is freedom and God has committed to loving us eternally with a faithfulness that outlasts our disobedience, He never removes his commitment to grow us in him.