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.

Obedience – even when we cannot see the end

I heard this story a long time ago, and it is a very good reminder of a great many things. I could list them, but you’re smart – you can figure it out.

There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Messiah appeared to him.

The Lord told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture – placing thoughts in the man’s mind, such as “Why kill yourself over this?, you’re never going to move it!” or “Boy, you’ve been at it a long time and you haven’t even scratched the surface!” etc. giving the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn’t moving the massive stone.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. “Why kill myself?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.” And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”


To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven’t succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.”

We give up because we don’t see the results we’ve expected, or we finish our task and believe we’ve failed because our expectations were different the end results. Our focus has turned from what the task was to what the result of what we done was. A small, but very important difference.

Can we just continue to follow and/or do what the Lord has asked us to do, even in the midst of our confusion, disappointment, and even heartbreak?