The 2021 Summer Olympics have come and gone but my mind still wanders back to some of the incredible stories. The events are fun and exciting to watch, for sure, but learning where the athletes come from, about their families, their struggles and triumphs—it gives me great hope. When we see an athlete who has overcome great obstacles—like a family tragedy, economic barriers, life-changing injury—it gives me hope that I too can overcome whatever seemingly less significant obstacle I might face.
I think the most remarkable stories though, are the ones who share vulnerably and honestly how they really didn’t know if they could do it. I tend to gravitate to these stories. The ones in which the athlete faces intense doubt and uncertainty. I think that is because it feels even more real to me. I love the stories of the determined individuals who never lose hope, but I lean more toward the type that begins with certainty and then wonders, can I really do this?
In my own life, once the reality of life sets in—the setbacks, the challenges, even the day-to-day to-dos that just seem to get in the way—the grand idea, the big goal, the plan, feels harder and harder to accomplish. Soon I question everything, and my mind can take me to a not-so-helpful place.
This is one of the many reasons I love and cherish the Word of God. Without it I think my mind would take me and keep me in paces I should not go. Beth Moore says, “The son of God saved my soul and the Word of saved my mind.”
I have a favorite man in the Bible who dealt with times of uncertainty and doubt. What we see in his story is that our circumstances and view of self are irrelevant to God’s ability to use us. God is just that good, friends! And in this series of blog posts we’re going to dive a bit deeper into this, thanks to one particular character in the Bible.
A Warrior in Hiding
Have you met Gideon before? We find him in the book of Judges and that’s where I have always been most drawn to him—in the very beginning of his story. Long story (super) short: Gideon is threshing wheat in a winepress to hide from the oppressive and utterly destructive Mideonites. They have basically decimated anything that the Israelites tried to produce, and they continue to do so. Verse 5 says the Mideonites, “invaded the land to ravage it.” At this point in the history of the Israelites they have forgotten their God and live in absolute (and understandable) fear of this oppressive group. Gideon is no different—he is living in fear too.
As he tries to keep some of this wheat for his people out of the hand of the enemy, an angel of the Lord appears and says, ‘The Lord is with you mighty warrior (v. 12).” Gideon is hiding in a wine press from the oppressive Mideonites. There is nothing about this situation that says “mighty warrior.” And yet, that is what God calls him. If you were to continue to read through the next few chapters, through chapter 8 specifically, you would see that God was truly calling Gideon what he will become, not what he was at that moment.
God Meets You as You Are AND Sees You as You Will Be
Friends, do you know that God sees who you will become but is meeting you right here and now as you are? Gideon gave zero earthly indication he would ever be a mighty warrior. He was hiding when God came to him.
God is not asking you to get it together—whatever it might be: the perfect temperament, a prayer life that others will rival, finances in order, a disciplined fitness schedule, or the right position at work. Those things may be needed in your life, but none of those need to be done before He calls you. No, He is meeting you right where you are, calling you by a new name—a name you are becoming.
A few years ago, I sensed God calling me to start writing. The irony of all this is I was never really a writer. Sure, I wrote during different points of my career, but I didn’t consider myself a writer nor did I really aspire to be one. Yet, I felt I had things to share to encourage and build up the body of believers—especially women. So, I began writing here and there and then one day a Christian women’s magazine wanted to use my devotions on a steady basis and eventually published them in a book. I was floored, shocked, overwhelmed—all the things! But God knew. My position in life never suggested the description “writer” would follow my name. But God knew what He was leading me to become. This is exactly what was happening with Gideon.
Circumstantial Faith Must Go
But wait, there is more! Take a look at verses 13-14:
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
In verse 13 Gideon goes right to the circumstances in which he and his people find themselves. He says, “but if the Lord is with us…” He lacks faith. The Exodus story is just a story to him. He is not unlike his fellow Israelites; he is just like them—doubting the God that delivered them all those years earlier. (We’ll address doubts and questions in another post in this series—but for now please know, doubt and questions are not bad things!)
And yet, what is the Angel’s response, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel… am I not sending you?” God is telling Gideon that he needs nothing other than what He has already equipped him with because “I am” is sending him. If Gideon understood the character of God, he’d know that the one who is sending him will never leave him or forsake him. He would know that the same God who delivered his ancestors a few hundred years prior is still the same God—He is the great I AM.
Do not let your circumstances keep you from the hope that tells you God is still working. I realize this can be so much more easily said than done, but it is possible. His ways truly are higher than ours and our minds are too finite to understand.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “… we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.“
Unlike Gideon, we live on this side of the cross. And after that cross came the death and then the resurrection of the One who left behind the Holy Spirit. And that Holy Spirit is here to equip us and enable us to walk in hope.
Step Out of the Wine Press
Romans 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Gideon’s story is meant to give us hope. It is meant to show us that God operates beyond our circumstances and sees beyond them as well. Gideon was called “mighty warrior” even though he was not so mightily hiding in a wine press. God met Gideon right where he was, calling him what he would become. Be encouraged today, friend, God meets you too, right where you are, and sees what you will be.