Gideon asked “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 7:15). Gideon placed limitations on himself, and when we do this, even experiencing the holiness of God isn’t enough to stop us from restricting His power as we doubt what we can accomplish.
We begin to sink as the enemy works harder to pull us further underwater – but God is not heartless nor is He powerless. He has mercy on us in the midst of our weaknesses, encouraging us to move in a direction of faith and trust. God stretches out His hand towards us, and then it is up to us to show that we are willing to accept.
God, is that You?
Gideon not only doubted what he could accomplish, he doubted where the message was coming from – God, is that You? He asked the angel of the Lord to show him a sign – but first he needed the angel of the Lord to wait for him so that he could go get an offering. When Gideon returned, we read in Judges 6:20-21:
The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
Only then, was Gideon sure he had seen the angel of the Lord. Nevertheless, when the time came to gather an army to free the Israelites, Gideon needed more confirmation. God’s patience in reassuring Gideon of what he was called to do never seemed to grow thin. God answered Gideon’s requests for signs (Judges 6:38-40) and Gideon continued to obey.
But if You are Afraid.
As Gideon began to put together an army, God was teaching him a valuable lesson. It’s the same lesson Peter learned when Jesus called him to walk on water. The more we look to God, the more God is able to show us how capable He is. Gideon followed God’s instructions to reduce the size of his army because God kept saying Gideon had too many soldiers. Gideon knew the battle was ultimately in God’s hands.
Yet in the midst of obedience, Gideon was still unable to quiet the fear that existed in his heart. God could see Gideon’s dedication as well as his concerns and sought to provide Gideon with some much-needed strength.
In Judges 7:9-11, we read:
“It happened on the same night that the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.”
Gideon went. He received the strength he needed. And with an army of only 300 men, the enemy’s army fled.
Strength in Obedience
Gideon’s story isn’t about a lack of faith, or the weaknesses caused by fear – his is a story about the strength in obedience despite our doubts. Gideon kept going… in fear, in doubt, in concern. He never stopped talking to God. He never stopped requesting what he needed to move forward. He understood that there is power in movement – we have to keep going even when we have every reason to do otherwise.
In Exodus 3:11, when “Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”, he had the assumptions all wrong. It’s not about who we are, because alone, we are limited. It’s more of a question of who is with us, because “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). So answer the call, lean into God, and never stop moving. He is with us. He calms out fears. He stretches His hand towards us – and if we grab hold, the possibilities are endless.