Accepting What God Is Already Doing
So many times in the biblical narratives, we learn more of ourselves in reading them than we do of ancient history. The words of Gideon’s question in this passage leap readily to our own lips: “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this befallen us?” (verse 13, rsv).
God seems so far away when our lives are filled with death, suffering, boredom, jobs we don’t like, people we don’t understand, circumstances we can’t change. We listen for the answer to Gideon’s question in hopes we may hear an answer to our own. But as so often happens in the encounters between God and people in the Bible, there is no answer, at least not what we would ordinarily classify as an answer. Rather, there is a command: “Save Israel from Midian” (verse 14, msg).
Gideon’s response is much like ours would be: “Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter” (verse 15, msg). But God showed Gideon that there was to be no more introspection over past failures, no speculation on the ways of fate, no self-evaluation. The initiative was in God’s hands, as it had been back in Egypt. Gideon had only to obey and adhere to the promise. He had only to serve, and God would bring the victory.
Now, you can look back over your lifetime, search through family histories, observe the traditions of the nation, and see what happens when a person declines to respond to God and rejects his love. Disobedience is fairly easy to diagnose. Among the usual symptoms are sluggish moral reflexes, an uneasy conscience that interferes with your digestion, a load of guilt that makes you tire easily, and a low-grade depression that saps you of creative energies.
For you who recognize such symptoms in yourself, I have good news: God loves you, and he is ready to forgive your sins and create new and eternal life in you. God is ready, at this moment, to cancel out the past, to wipe out the record, to burn the files on you. Nothing you have done or can imagine disqualifies you from accepting what he is even now doing for you.
When does a sense of your own weakness or awareness of past failures keep you from following God’s direction?