The Old Testament is filled with stories that both teach divine principles while, at the same time, providing us with encouragement and inspiration. Time and time again as I read through the Old Testament scriptures slowly and with reflection, I come across a passage that gives me pause to pray and often heralds a new insight or epiphany of sorts.
One such passage is found in the sixth chapter of Judges. Here we find Gideon, not a picture of bravery or valor by any stretch. In this passage we meet Gideon as he is at the bottom of a winepress laboring on the threshing floor in an attempt to hide grain from the advancing Midianites. All of a sudden, an angel of the Lord appears and says to Gideon:
The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. (Judges 6:12)
Whenever I read this passage, I am reminded of the classic Three Stooges routine where Curly, Larry, and Moe are at some gathering and are standing around when a guy comes up to them and says, “Gentlemen, Gentlemen…” The Stooges look around as if to say, “Who came in?” Certainly he wasn’t talking to them.
I would imagine Gideon felt something like this when the angel shows up as he is busy trying to hide the grain, not to mention himself. “Mighty warrior….Are you talkin’ to me?”
You see, there was nothing in Gideon’s past nor in his own self-image that indicated to anyone that he was in any way, shape, form, or fashion a mighty warrior. Yet God knew what was inside Gideon’s heart, even if Gideon didn’t. The reason God knew this was simple. God put that warrior’s spirit inside Gideon before he was ever born. And now, with Israel’s defeat clear and immanent, it was time for that spirit of the warrior to manifest.
It is the same for you and me. God has placed a potential inside each and every one of us before we ever came to life on earth. That inner spirit may not have manifested itself yet, but be certain of one thing, friend: it is there. God gives each man and woman a purpose, a mission, and a calling in life and he equips us with everything we need to accomplish that mission. Just as Gideon’s life had revealed nothing that would indicate that he could defeat the Midianites, it may be that your life has yet to manifest any indication of your greatness. But rest assured, the greatness in you because God placed it there. Erwin Raphael McManus, pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles, describes this aspect of our identity as children of God:
Of all the things that may change about you when you connect to God, here is one that should fill you with confidence – if you have lived your life running away, this is not who you are any longer. Where once we ran from problems, failures, hardship, danger, and challenges, we are now among those who thrive in the midst of them. You need to know who you are and to which tribe you belong. Others may run in fear, but you are not of those who shrink back. You recognize that the greatness within you can only emerge if you are willing to face your greatest challenges…Maybe you didn’t know that about yourself. Maybe your life history doesn’t reflect this. Maybe all your experience tells you that you are inherently a coward, a failure, and a quitter. But God says, “No, You’ve misunderstood yourself. You’ve misjudged yourself. You’ve underestimated yourself.” If you are in a relationship with the God who created you, no matter who you’ve been or what you’ve done or how many times you’ve messed up or failed or quit, you are no longer that person, no longer a part of the tribe that shrinks back.
No my friend, you are no longer a part of the tribe that shrinks back. Instead, you, like Gideon and countless others who have been transformed by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, are a mighty warrior. Scripture is filled with examples of just this sort of personal metamorphosis. Take Peter for example. Here’s a guy that denied Christ three times on the night the Master was arrested. He claimed he didn’t even know the man. Yet is was this same man who on that terrible night became an poster child for those who shrink back, that later delivered a sermon that converted thousands of people, right in the presence of the same authorities that had crucified Jesus.
Peter is not the only one who underwent incredible change. Look at Saul, who later became known as Paul the Apostle. A zealous persecutor of the fledgling church, this same man, after an encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road, became the early church’s most ardent and effective evangelist. I don’t think Paul could ever be said to have been among the tribe of those who shrink back.
And neither are you.
Step out in faith, my friend. Begin by learning to see yourself as God sees you. Once you accepted Christ, you became “in Christ.” When that happened, you became a new creation. You can now do things that before you would have never dreamed possible. Like Gideon – like Peter – like Paul, you have been transformed into something capable of far more than you could ever imagine.
© L.D. Turner 2010/All Rights Reserved