Saturday, July 25, 2015

Out of the winepress–a reflection on Gideon


Poor Gideon.  He seems to be considered a bit of a coward, hiding from his oppressors in a winepress, demanding signs from God before taking any action, and then waiting for the cover of darkness to do so.  "Look at Gideon," I’ve heard some people say, "he should have trusted the word of God and been bold enough to just go and knock down that Asherah pole then and there."

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” …  “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:12 & 15, NIV)

I can relate a little bit to Poor Gideon.  His threshing wheat in the winepress idea looks a lot like my hiding a lamp in a bushel idea.  I often find myself asking God "Are you sure?", doubting that I've heard him right when I'm surrounded by people with far greater skills, talents and experience than what I have.  I’m conscious of my own inadequacies, I feel I have the least to offer.

There's nothing in the text that tells us Gideon was wrong to ask God for His reassurance.  The author of Judges accuse Gideon of cowardice.  Instead we are shown how God can use the least of us for His greater glory. 

God knows that when He calls the least qualified that extra encouragement and reassurance is needed, and in His grace provides it in the right way  and at the right time.  An offering supernaturally combusts, fleece is dry instead of wet then wet instead of dry.  At the greatest challenge -  a numerous enemy faced with only 300 men - an overheard conversation provides the necessary boldness and inspiration. An enemy is dispersed without a sword being lifted

The less I have to offer, the more room there is for God's Spirit to move instead. 

It is not for me to fight the battle, I am just asked to stand and blow a trumpet and shout and hold my torch high so it can be seen.

Courage is not the lack of fear and doubt, it is stepping out  in spite of those doubts.  And courage grows out of encouragement.  It's okay to ask God for reassurance and encouragement when faced with challenges, in His mercy and grace they will be given to me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The all of me


They say courage isn’t the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and stepping forward anyway.

When I prayed “Lord, let me come deeper into you,” I expected it would be warm and wonderful. I thought there would be an intensity to my worship, that there would be a deep joy and an awareness of His love.

What’s happened instead is there’s been a digging deeper inside of me, bringing to the surface my past anxieties, hurts and brokenness.

It was so much easier when the past stayed buried, the memories didn’t bother me and I didn’t bother them.

I know in my mind that it’s different now, but my physical emotions are not yet convinced.

The past lies still mock meYou’re not good enough for this.  You don’t really belong here.

My stomach knots, my chest tightens.  Emotion wells up in my throat.

You are here because I have led you here.  Don’t be afraid, I am with you.

I couldn’t cry back then.  I dared not, it wasn’t safe.  I’m not afraid to cry now.  A caring hand on my shoulder, and the wave breaks over me.

“You must be getting tired of praying for me week after week,” I say, “I don’t like being needy.”

If I am to worship with all of my heart and mind and soul and strength, then that includes these messy, hurting and broken parts of me.

Instead of being afraid of these emotions, I will make them my offering at the altar, the gift of my worship.  I welcome and accept them, then give them to Him, just as they are.  This is my entire heart, the all of me.

“Lord, let me have courage.”

I feel the fear, but I’m not afraid of it.  I will step into and through it: one step, then another and another.

Send out your light and your truth;
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my saviour and my God.
(Psalm 43:3-5, NIV 1985)

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