Me? A Mighty Warrior?
I wrote this post two and a half years ago before facing one of the most trying situations I’ve ever experienced. As I reread it today tears filled my eyes because it hit me how faithful our God is. He equipped me for the situation I faced then, he is continuously equipping me for the weighty task of motherhood, and he will equip me for the adventure he has planned for us in Malawi. What a faithful God we serve!
This summer, friends and I have been doing Priscilla Shirer’s study on Gideon. We are over halfway through it now, but I have already learned so much. I highly recommend this study! One of the lessons that stuck with me most was from week two of the study. I want to share some of what the Lord taught me during that week.
First of all, let me set the stage in Gideon’s story. The Israelites had chosen disobedience again, so God allowed the Midianites to oppress them. The Midianites oppression was so strong that most of Israel resorted to hiding in the mountains. The Midianites also destroyed a majority of the Israelites’ food supply. The Israelites had hit rock bottom, so they called out to God to rescue them. That is when Gideon steps in.
When we first see Gideon he is threshing wheat in his father’s winepress. Threshing wheat was a common chore typically reserved for servants; it certainly wasn’t anything noble. Not only was this a mundane task, but Gideon was doing it in hiding. Typically threshing wheat was done on the threshing floor, but Gideon was doing it in a winepress. A threshing floor was an open and airy structure designed to let the breeze aid in the task of threshing, or separating, the wheat from the chaff. In contrast, a wine press was a dark and closed off room used for making and fermenting wine. I imagine it being similar to a cellar. Scripture tells us why Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress. Judges 6:11 tells us, “Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.” Gideon was hiding in fear of the Midianites. Not only was Gideon fearful, a few verses later Gideon says he is the lowest of the low in Israel. His clan is the “weakest” in Manasseh and he is the weakest of his clan! Gideon certainly wasn’t known for his courage, strength or leadership skills. This is important to remember as we look at what God says to Gideon.
Judges 6:12 says, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” This statement has two parts and both parts hold promises that are essential to achieving spiritual victory.
The first is, “The Lord is with you.” As believers, we can confidently claim this promise because we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. If we want to effectively complete the mission God has set before us, we must cling to this promise. Otherwise, we will allow ourselves to be controlled by fear, inadequacy, and a host of other negative emotions, instead of the courage and power of Christ. Left to our own devices we are incapable of handling the difficult calling, task, relationship or sin battle that the Lord has set before us. Fear and feelings of complete inadequacy are normal and even valid if we are looking to take on the situation by ourselves. Thank God we are never alone! He is always walking with us through the hardest of circumstances which we feel the most incapable of handling.
I admit, it is rarely easy to remember this promise when you face a situation that feels completely beyond your capacity to handle. Gideon didn’t find this promise an easy one to claim. His response was something along the lines of, “If the Lord is really with me then why are the Midianites oppressing our people?”(Judges 6:13). Like Gideon, I struggle with claiming this promise. If you’re a frequent church attender, you have often heard the promise that you are not alone. I know I am guilty of hearing that promise and thinking, “Wow! What an awesome promise,” but when it comes to a situation where I most need that promise, I forget. I am so focused on doing things in my own strength that I don’t truly believe that the Lord is with me and ready to fight my battles. My unbelief results in the most crippling sense of fear and inadequacy as I look at the situation I am facing. This is not what God wants. He desires for us to walk in knowledge of the fact that He is with us. Deuteronomy 31:6 is an exhortation from Moses to the Israelites, but it applies to us today. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
In the second part of our verse, the angel of the Lord refers to Gideon as a mighty warrior. Given Gideon’s current location, this statement was ironic. Remember, Gideon was in the winepress because he was hiding in fear of the Midianites. I am so encouraged the irony because it is a reminder that God does not define us by how we behave at any given moment. Gideon was behaving like a scared farmer, but that is not who he was. He was a mighty warrior. In the study, Priscilla says,
“The angel had already told Gideon Who was with him, but now he wanted to reveal what was in him. The angel knew that Gideon wouldn’t respond well to the call until his perception of his potential was reformatted. So the angel tugged the would-be hero out of the shadows and into the clear, bright light of Yahweh’s love.”
Until our focus changes from who we believe we are to who God believes we are, we will not respond well to the call. When I am focusing on how I see myself, and the Lord calls me to do something beyond my comfort zone, I protest with everything in me. Just like Moses at the burning bush, I find every excuse for why I am the wrong person for the job. My weaknesses and struggles are at the forefront of my mind, rather than the strength with which I am equipped through Christ. When I became a Christian I was given a new identity. Instead of being covered in sin, I am clean. Instead of being a slave, I am free. Instead of being lost, I am found and an adopted into the family of God. Instead of being fearful and inadequate, I am a mighty warrior. When I operate out of my true identity, I can face whatever calling God has for me with confidence in who God has made me to be, and so can you. I will close with one more powerful quote from Priscilla Shirer’s study called Gideon.
“The assignment for which God is calling us will go unrealized unless we are convinced of the spiritual chops He has given us to accomplish it. His perspective might sound unbelievable and even look completely incorrect based on the way we are acting and feeling. But trusting God and walking in His pronouncement of potential is the foundation of spiritual victory.”