In two months I turn 40 and I am still wondering what I will do when I grow up.
I’m an adult. I adult every day whether I feel like it or not. I have a bachelor’s degree, several masters’ level theology courses under my belt and I am currently a children’s pastor. I LOVE being on staff at my church, but I know I haven’t reached my final step on God’s career ladder.
One of the daily devotionals I love, Our Daily Bread, was recently about Gideon. The devotional only used a small portion of Gideon’s story. That tiny bit, nine verses to be exact, had me intrigued. Gideon is a name I have heard and read about in passing, but I never really dug deep into the life of Jerub-Baal. Oh, “Who’s that?” you ask. Poor Gideon, that’s the nickname the idol worshipping Israelites gave him after his first act of obedience to the Lord.
There are many lessons we could learn from Gideon in the three chapters of Judges (Judges 6-8) where his story is found!
Gideon was a chicken farmer. Not a farmer who raised chickens, but a farmer who was scared and afraid. I mean, he had valid reasons to be scared and afraid, but it’s important for us to know he was chicken when his story in Scripture began.
The Midianites (Midian means “strife”) caused the Israelites all kinds of problems. The Midianites continuously destroyed the Israelites’ land, their crops, and their herds. For seven years the Lord allowed this to continue because the Israelites had gone back to their old ways of worshipping idols and forsaking their God.
Gideon was doing what he did. He was a farmer, and when the angel of the Lord found him he was threshing wheat. Because of the threat of the Midianites, Gideon had to improvise. Normally threshing wheat was the sort of thing you did out in the open on a mountain or a hill so that the wind would blow the chaff, or extra stuff, away from the beaten wheat. Gideon couldn’t thresh his wheat out in the open because that would attract the Midianite enemies who might confiscate Gideon’s crops. So instead, when the angel of the Lord found Gideon, he was threshing his wheat down in a wine press.
Just in case you missed it, a wine press is for pressing grapes not threshing wheat. Gideon was in an enclosed space where there was no wind to blow the chaff away. Even though Gideon was found in a less than ideal environment, he continued doing what he did: farming and providing for himself and his family.
Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, and I love this, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). I can just see Gideon looking over both shoulders for a mighty warrior knowing good and well there was no way the angel was talking to him!
Immediately Gideon had two “pardon me” responses for the angel before he made a couple of demands.
Pardon me #1 – Where has God been while the Midianites have been ravaging our land? (Judges 6:13)
Pardon me #2 – If I am the weakest in my family, which is the weakest clan in all Israel, how am I supposed to save God’s people? (Judges 6:15)
Demand #1 – Give me a sign you that I’m your man. (Judges 6:17)
Demand #2 – Wait right here while I prepare an offering. (Judges 6:18)
That Gideon has got some nerve.
Oh wait, I do the exact same thing to God all the time. Please tell me I am not the only one!
I know I’m not the only one. Time after time throughout God’s Word He calls someone to do something great and that someone immediately questions God, questions their own ability, makes demands, and often makes every excuse possible to get out of their God-designed calling.
Like Gideon, God has put greatness in each of us. Not greatness for the sake of fame and fortune, but greatness for His purposes, His Kingdom and His glory. Most days I don’t feel great much less do I feel like I can do something great, but I know that God has put greatness in me. Before I knew God I had no clue that my ability to teach, create a schedule, and the fact that I was an extrovert, were all part of my God-designed calling. I was just doing what I do.
Back to Gideon. Gideon the farmer was called a mighty warrior by the angel of the Lord (Judges 6:12). When the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, he instantly transformed from a scared wheat farmer to a fearless army general. He blew a trumpet and began gathering his troops for battle (Judges 6:34-35). Gideon’s army originally consisted of 32,000 men until God dwindled the Israelite army down to 300.
God used what Gideon was doing when He called him, Gideon’s ability to improvise, along with 300 men armed with clay jars, trumpets, and torches as their weapons, to defeat 15,000 Midianites. Sounds impossible, I know. God wanted Israel to have no doubt that their victory was because of Him, not because of their own strength and number.
God calls regular people like you, me and Gideon to greatness. He takes the unlikely, unable, unrecognized, unsuspecting, unqualified, unknown, untrained, unwilling people and transforms them. He takes all of those “un” prefixes, which mean “not”, and replaces them with the word “most”. Most likely, most able, most recognized, most suspecting, most qualified, most known, most trained, most willing. And sadly, most of us will miss it. Because we question God, question our abilities, make demands, and make excuses, we miss out on being greatly used by God.
Here are three things we can take away from Gideon’s story:
- Like Gideon we need to be doers.
We cannot sit around idly waiting for God to use us. We need to be doers. God will find us in the midst of our mundane and call us to do something seemingly impossible.
- We must allow God to transform us.
God transformed Gideon from a wheat farmer to a mighty warrior. We must be willing participants when God calls us to a certain task. If we allow Him, God will transform the unusable to do the unimaginable.
- God has not forgotten you.
It is easy to believe God could never use you. But in reality God wants to take you from hiding in the wine press and put you on His front line.