And most importantly, it is a story of faith and fear.
Many of us know the story of Gideon, the fearful and unexpected warrior dubbed with bronze sword by God to redeem the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites. If you do not know the story, put down your computer or smart phone or whatever device you are reading this on, open one of them Holy Bibles and flip to Judges 6-8. There you will find the story of Gideon. If you have time to read this blog, you definitely have time to read his story. It is a series of vengeance, battle, redemption, challenging the status quo, miracles, and most importantly, it is a story of faith and fear.
Gideon lived in an age of fear. The Israelites, for seven years, were under the torment of the Midianite people. They lived in a constant panic as their oppressors relentlessly destroyed their crops and killed their livestock. In chaos, the Israelites called out to their forgotten God for help. Faithful as He is, the Lord chose a man to save His people. A man named Gideon.
Until God shot a dart in my heart, revealing to me that I, in fact, am Gideon.
We should not be surprised when we find Gideon to be an anxious, fearful man. I mean, wouldn’t you be after living under the control of such a ruthless people? In addition to his already penetrating sense of identity, Gideon’s family line was the weakest of his nation and within his immediate family, Gideon was branded the lowliest. Having listened to the lies told to him since he was young, and the environment he had grown up in, Gideon had clothed himself in an identity of fear and weakness. Like many of us, our identities told to us by the world become the entirety of ourselves. For all Gideon knew, he was fear. It is no wonder then, when God chose him to be the one to defend his people, Gideon did not believe it.
It took all of God’s voice, dreams, physical, palpable signs, and seeing an angel of the Lord for Gideon to finally follow God’s plan into the jaws of battle. Back and forth Gideon went. God tells him to do one thing, Gideon asks for a sign, God gives him the sign, revealing His sovereign power and providing unending peace, and Gideon goes on to ask for another sign. In my pride, it was easy to be a little dreary of Gideon’s lack of faith in God, until God shot a dart in my heart, revealing to me that I, in fact, am Gideon.
I want complete assurance that I am not charging in, swords up, face to face with my firing squad.
I have heard God’s call, summoning me to the other side of the world, following Him into a life of missions. I do not know his plans further then the first step, I do not know how the battle will end, and this terrifies me. As hard as I try to convince everyone that “I am taking time to pray and seek God for complete confirmation,” I cannot fool myself. Yes, I am waiting and praying for signs from the Lord, but not for lack of knowledge of where he is leading me, but simply, because I am afraid. I want complete assurance that I am not charging in, swords up, face to face with my firing squad. Ultimately, I do not trust the Lord in His choice. Why would He pick me? Like Gideon, I believe God has made a mistake. Like Gideon, I have grown into an identity of weakness and inadequacy. A persisting anxiety lives within my own head. In my family, I have felt to be the lowliest. My insecurities and lack of faith in God cause me to doubt His might. Will he really protect me against the Midianites, or will I fail and look like a fool? Will He really provide for me and use me effectively in ministry, or will I fail and look like a fool? The similarities are terrifying.
Before His plan and before Gideon’s part in it, God identifies Gideon.
There was one line, praise the Lord, I did not miss while reading Gideon’s story. It is the very first thing that Gideon hears from the Lord. Before His plan and before Gideon’s part in it, God identifies Gideon. It is not the identity that the world has so kindly placed on Gideon, no it is the identity that was carved into his frail bone marrow while waiting in his mother’s womb. The name that God had given him before time began, when He was thoughtfully and lovingly crafting him. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
We so easily forget who our maker is. The one who formed us is not of the world, no, the One who formed us is the Creator of the world, the All Knowing, Magnificent, Gracious, Loving God. The God with a plan and a role for you to play. This alone, should cast out all fear. The Holy God is in control, and He has a name for you, a name He calls you by. Do you know what it is?