I found my kindred spirit. And I found him in the Bible. We think alike. We react alike. And we pray alike. Besides, what woman isn’t naturally drawn to a man who was called “a mighty man of valor”—by the angel of the Lord? Wow!
But he’s often “picked on” in our efforts to fit his story into our teachings about the need to trust God. My poor friend Gideon. I totally get where he was coming from. In fact, I am pretty much a Gideon-etta!
Gideon starts out in Judges 6:13–15, asking why and how and when. But I need to give you the backstory first: Gideon’s people, the Israelites, had been overtaken by some evil icks, the Midianites, who were taking their land and their possessions and their food. So Gideon–ah, that Gideon–goes into a sheltered area, a winepress, where no one will see him threshing wheat in secret so that his family will have food to eat. While he’s there, a messenger from God, an angel of the Lord, greets him by reminding him that the Lord is with him, and that he is “a mighty man of valor.”
Gideon doesn’t waste time on empty pleasantries. He was working hard, probably dripping from the heat, and undoubtedly miffed that these evil icks had made it so that he had to hide out in a winepress and thresh wheat where no one would see, or they might steal it right out from under him. I kind of gather from his immediate response that his mind was already on thoughts of what his grandparents and parents had told him about God’s miraculous hand rescuing them from Pharaoh in Egypt those many years ago. He had been watching for those same miracles and that same deliverance, and it wasn’t happening. So he was, it seems, a little worked up over it before this situation even took place.
So as he began his why, how, and when questions, the angel told him that he, Gideon, the one hiding out so that he wouldn’t be seen, was not only a man of valor, but he was also the one that was going to be used by God to be the earthly deliverer for his people.
Here’s where it gets fun. Stick with me!
Jump with me to Luke, where Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was greeted by an angel. (Luke 1:26–38.) Mary was not only fearful and “troubled” by his sudden appearance, but when she was told that she, a young, sexually pure virgin, was going to have a baby, she immediately asked, “How can this be?” It was out of the ordinary, and faith prompted her to ask for an explanation.
Now pop back over to my friend Gideon and his very similar reaction. He told the angel that this whole leadership thing was pretty unlikely, because not only was his clan the weakest in Mannaseh (i.e., they were the lowest on the proverbial totem pole), but he, Gideon, was the lowest man within that clan.
But the angel bottom lines it and tells him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16, NASB).
Well now, Gideon–ah, that Gideon–basically said, “I’ve heard about God’s amazing acts, but since I’ve never seen them in the midst of these Midianites and the trouble they’ve brought with them, I’m going to need something to show me that it’s really you. So you stay here, and I’m going to bring out an offering of some of the best things I still have available.”
Without scolding him or giving him a three-point outline on how to increase his faith, the angel says, “Sure, I’ll wait.”
Now, this was not a five-minute, run through the drive-through kind of thing. Verse 19 gives us a realistic view of the timeline and of all that Gideon did: “So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. [The man prepared a goat, made fresh bread, and whipped up some broth! Yep. He’s my kindred spirit! But I digress.]
After all that work, here’s what happened in verses 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.”
Because God had created Gideon, had his hand on Gideon, and had a purpose for Gideon, He just showed him–right then, right there–that this message had come from Him. He knew Gideon was a visual person. He knew that Gideon’s past disappointments, failures, and fears made him hesitant to jump into something until he was certain. God knew…and so God provided a personality- and experience-based response just for Gideon.
Oh, friend, God knows you. He knows what you need in order to make a decision. He knows that your faith might not be of the kind that jumps but is the kind that has faith to ask for proof that you’re really supposed to jump. And so He’ll answer in kind.
As you may or may not know, this was just the beginning of Gideon’s need for a visual confirmation of his choices. So I’m going to do the next set in the next blog post. But until then, allow the lives of my kindred spirit Gideon and of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, remind you that God may not choose to lead you in the same way as someone else. Exercise your faith in the way He created you, because He made you that way for a reason, so He’s not going to be upset with you for asking Him to make the way clear for you to see!