Small group on Monday was so off. I felt like the Lord left our group high and dry- I could see it in the dreary faces of the girls and hear it in the silent emptiness that pervaded the room. It’s never like that. It broke my heart to hear one of the girls say…”Normally when I walk in here, I feel this sense of peace flood over me, but today I don’t feel that.” God- did I do something wrong? Search my heart. That was the cry of my sister, Sarah, and I after everyone left the short study. Was the emptiness because of any sin within us?
God is so, so faithful. Yesterday morning in my devotional (I’m going through Judges now), I read chapter 6, and He opened my eyes to spiritual truth. Here’s a quick rundown…
The book of Judges is a cyclical book. The Israelites experience freedom from bondage, use their freedom to sin against God, regret their sin, cry out to God, and He delivers them…then they begin the cycle again by sinning against God. I cannot count on my hand how many times this has already happened in the book so far, but more practically, in my life. Yet, they, and I, still turn to God every time because we know He’s the only One that can fix it.
After their rebellion this time, God sends an Angel to visit Gideon while he is gathering food. He says to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (v. 12) God calls Gideon mighty. Yet, Gideon misses it completely and goes on to say, “O my lord [notice the lowercase], if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” (v. 13).
It’s funny how we have a tendency to blame our circumstances on God when our poor decisions are the reason we got there in the first place. The Israelites were handed over to the Midianites because they “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 1), probably worshipping false gods in the land (v. 10). God lays out the best path, but He also gives us free will to choose. We can’t blame God for our poor decisions- we must pray that He will grant us grace and help us organize victory out of our mistakes.
Then God says to Gideon, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel form the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (v. 14). God still calls Gideon mighty, despite his whiney attitude and unbelief. In fact, He still chooses to use him regardless of his feebleness. Gideon said it himself- “O my, Lord [notice the capital letter], my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (v. 15).
Don’t miss this. God isn’t looking at your mistakes and pointing a finger. He’s looking at the mess you’re in and offering a hand to help you out. It is not God’s will that anyone live a life that is less than the best He offers. He’s a good Dad, and He believes in His kids- not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. He can truly “work all things together for the good of those who love God, those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Gideon leaves to prepare an offering for the Lord, begging the Angel not to depart. The Angel commanded Gideon to lay His offering on the rock, drenched in broth, and then it was consumed by fire. Finally, Gideon was able to proclaim, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face” (v. 22). Gideon admitted his unbelief- there was still doubt within him that the Angel was truly of the Lord. God did a miracle to prove Himself, and Gideon believed.
First “lord,” then “Lord,” then “Lord GOD!” Yet, God never changed. He was the constant. Gideon’s feelings and attitude didn’t determine the character or presence of God. He was there from the beginning, but Gideon’s perspective had to change. I am oh so grateful that God is who He says He is, regardless of how I feel. He’s with me forever and always.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).