Gideon’s 300

This story really gripped me the other day, and I had a lot of thoughts about it. Take a few minutes and read it, so you can follow along with me (Judges 7):

So, he started off with 32,000 men, and God whittled it down to something He could work with. But as I wander along the paths of this, so many things come to mind.

Like, when God calls this “mighty man”, he’s hiding in a wine-press. There’s a potential in so many of us and when God calls it out of us, we have the choice to remain hidden, or actually do what He’s asking us to do. And sometimes, just sometimes, we have a general idea of what He wants, and we have to figure out the plan “as we go”, as it were.

And I think about the people who Gideon gathered and were later dismissed. Did Gideon mess up? Should he have waited for the direction to call out just those 300 people? Did he get ahead of what God wanted to do in gathering the people together? I was pondering on that, and actually wondered if the process is where God wanted to go, and He used this instance to take care of a whole lot of other lessons. Like making sure that these men knew that they were wanted to fight, maybe, regardless if they ended up in the battle. But also maybe that they needed to know that it was okay to be afraid, and God still valued them, maybe. And maybe that bravery also looks like taking care of their family and their land, maybe, and that is just as important as fighting on the front lines. Maybe. And maybe that Gideon needed to do the work of finding this many people so that he could figure out how to lead, maybe.

We often see the obvious lessons, but what if there were other purposes to what God was doing? And how can we trust and be obedient to what God is calling us when we don’t understand all the facets, maybe, of what He wants to teach and accomplish? Because maybe, it’s about more than just us.

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Our Deepest Fear

So I have this quote on the side of my blog that encourages me every single time I take the time to read it:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson, Quoted by Nelson Mandela at his 1994 Inaugural Speech

What does it speak to? Our identity, our destiny, our fear. Pride, humility, and all that. We are His children, and He chooses to partner with us, and often takes us to places that are over our heads, and we look to our own inadequacies. True, we are inadequate without Him. But, as David Crowder sings, He has made everything glorious, and He made us, so what does that make us?

So when there is something we know we must do, and we are intimidated and shrink away because we don’t feel qualified, or do not want to seem better than others, what does that accomplish? There are times when you are put in a place for “such a time as this”, and it becomes not about you, or your talent, or your ability, but about manifesting the glory of God.

And the fear of pride makes its insidious way into our thoughts, making it about us again. I heard a saying that false humility is a form of pride. “Your playing small does not serve the world.” We need to recognize that we are children of God and shine for His glory, and give people a picture of what it may mean for them to shine.

And so I ask, who are you to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? You are a child of God, and it’s not just some of you, it’s everyone. Let perfect love cast out all fear, and be an example to others to let their light so shine, too.

The Black Door

Several generations ago, during one of the most turbulent of the desert wars in the Middle East, a spy was captured and sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. The general, a man of intelligence and compassion, had adopted a strange and unusual custom in such cases. He permitted the condemned person to make a choice.

The prisoner could either face the firing squad or pass through the Black Door.

As the moment the execution drew near, the general ordered the spy be brought before him for a short, final, interview, the primary purpose of which was to receive the answer of the doomed man to the query: “What shall it be – the firing squad or the Black Door?” This was not an easy decision and the prisoner hesitated, but soon made it known that he preferred the firing squad to the unknown horrors that might wait for him behind the ominous and mysterious door. Not long thereafter, a volley of shots in the courtyard announced that the grim sentence had been fulfilled.

The general, staring at his boots, turned to his aide and said, “You see how it is with men; they will always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined.

Yet I gave him his choice.

“What lies beyond the Black Door?” asked the aide.

“Freedom,” replied the General, “and I’ve known only a few men brave enough to take it.”

I heard this story several years ago, and it totally rocked me. Is it true? I have no idea, but I recognize very well the spirit behind it. It changed my worldview, the way I thought. So often the fear of the unknown is so much bigger than the fear and/or despair of the situation in front of us, we’d rather just deal with what we see. In a very real way, it keeps us from living, and from living a life that transcends our every imagination. And you know what keeps us from that? This insidious thing called fear.

But, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

See, one of the enemy’s greatest weapons is fear, and he knows it. It works so well, he doesn’t have a whole lot of variety – why change what’s not broken? If you have a great destiny (and you do), the best and easiest way for satan to block it is to wrap it up in fear – fear of failure, fear of risk, fear of trying, fear of people, fear of success (yeah, I went there), fear of… you fill in the space. If we don’t have a foundation and a reality in Love, that fear will have us standing in front of a firing squad instead of opening the door to the journey of our destiny.

It’s hard, I know. We’ve lived with fear all our lives, and when we’ve dealt with one layer, there’s another issue that jumps out to taunt us. But Love is being perfected in us, as it says in the verse previous to the one I quoted. And as it get perfected in us, fear has no place. It gives way to expectation and anticipation, love of the adventure, because we have such a creative Abba who loves to hide things for us to find – even behind big, black doors.

So when fear comes to overwhelm me and try to derail me from the awesomeness of my destiny, I refuse to turn away and sit in the execution square. I will open my self up to the perfection of His Love, and move forward into the unknown. He’s a big God, He can take care of me, and I trust Him. And doors, no matter the color, usually open into wonderful opportunities, and if that’s where God is leading, then that’s where I’m going.

Are you coming?

Dreams of God – part 1

I woke up this morning to the most awesome text message. I opened up my message to read this: The body of Messiah needs the result of the dreams God has placed on your heart. I tell you what, I went from groggy to wide awake in no time flat. I called my friend who had sent it, and she was listening to a sermon while getting ready for work, heard that phrase and thought to send it to me. It is something I’ve been hearing for the last year or so, and it finally solidified in my heart. God gives us dreams, passions in our hearts. What are you doing with it? I’m learning that it doesn’t matter whether it makes sense to you or not, if God has put it in your heart, you will never really come alive until you are doing something about it. What is sensible to you may not be in God’s plans (I Cor. 1:27). Sometimes, fear of the unknown, fear of ridicule, fear of rejection and/or failure keeps us from pursuing that which God has given us. Is it worth it? Basking in the safety of fear, as opposed to the high adventure of your passion and destiny? Just a question. For some, yes, but I have my doubts…