This Sunday I preached on Gideon (Judges 7) for the 2nd time. I’ll wrap up the Gideon portion of the Judges series next week.
What really caught me by surprise during last weeks sermon prep was Gideon’s plan. Gideon was a man, like us, who had his fair share of idols. He chops down the family idols, but soon we see him worship at the altar of certainty. It wasn’t enough to see God and live. It wasn’t enough to be rescued from an angry mob hellbent on killing him after he chopped down the favorite family (and neighborhood Baal statue) without securing Pop’s permission or giving him the head’s up. He needed to lay out a fleece and see if it could be wet while the ground dry and vice versa. Just to be sure…..Certainty.
To the man who values certainty in decision making (and I don’t blame him, I do myself), God only reminds and reveals two more times in Judges 7 that yes, He will indeed deliver this people and he will do it through Gideon. But he doesn’t say how. I find that as fascinating as it is apropos. Why didn’t God give Gideon instructions? He gave Joshua specific instructions at Jericho. Wouldn’t you want specific instructions if you were supposed to go into battle when outnumbered 300-150,000? But for God, redemption is multi-faceted. NOT telling Gideon specific instructions was exactly what Gideon needed. Gideon, who knew God WOULD deliver Israel, yet didn’t know HOW he would deliver them, said “Giddy up” without his precious certainty.
I really do think God does the same thing with His people today. God’s ultimate deliverance from the punishment, the power, and one day the presence of sin comes through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (easier just to say “the cross” though isn’t it?) We know the end of the story. Jesus wins and we do too.
Yet often God conceals, like he did for Gideon, specific instructions. Take this job. Marry this person. Join this church. Serve your community in this way. When he does, we must not hold these decisions with the same level of conviction as His moral will. We know He wants us to get a job, to get married if that’s what you desire, to join a local church, to love your city and neighbors. This is his revealed moral will.
But which one? This is quite a different thing than choosing which job, which person to marry, which church to join, which community to serve. Like Gideon we have to make decisions even when things are unclear. We know enough to do that. So here’s a start. I do think we have a leg up on old Gideon.
We have community. When unclear on the “which,” seek counsel. You have plenty in your local church who can help you. For crying out loud, please talk to three people before you make big decisions. If you feel like you’ve reached certainty before seeking counsel, you certainly have reached certainty too early. God grants others wisdom. Don’t waste such a precious resource!
We have God’s Word. Read it. Follow along with your church’s bible reading plan. Or whatever helps get you in the Word. But don’t demand that God whisper into your ear as you’re reading the Gospel of Luke, “Marry this girl, break up, take this job, etc…” Or don’t force something onto the text or read your situation or agenda into it, when it simply isn’t there (eisegesis). “Since the man in this story was a centurion, God really must be leading me to be in the Army! There it is!” Bad idea. Let the Word point you to what Jesus has done for you, what He is doing through you, and what is yet to be done in you that you really want him to do. Think character and fruit, not simply, “What should I do with my business?” How can I honor Jesus in my business, singleness, loneliness, job I hate during this season? Trust him to shape your heart and desires as you pray “Thy Kingdom come, not my Kingdom come.” God’s Word enables us to begin thinking God’s thoughts after Him. How could your decision move you to better serve His Kingdom agenda, not yours?
We have Holy Spirit. Yep, God’s Spirit is at work IN us. Don’t expect him to play role of match-maker, investor, money-maker, but trust that he gives wisdom to us when we ask. Peace as well. Ask him to shape your motivations, open doors, close others.
We have God’s Providence. Sometimes people don’t want God to be in control. I guess so they can let Him off the hook when evil happens or because they could never imagine Him intervening into our sacred will. But if he’s not, then you’ll have a hard time with uncertainty. You’ll constantly be afraid, “What if I didn’t follow God’s will?” I think one reason Gideon was able to come up with the plan without God dictating it to him was because he knew that God was able to do whatever He wanted to do. Confidence comes when you know you can’t screw things up. Sorry, you just aren’t that powerful. Now don’t make stupid decisions like bringing a moped to a Harley Davidson rally and expect to not get hurt. But seriously, believe that God really is in control. And ask for help to believe, because its a hard one. I know.
At the end of the day, when you feel like you’ve used the gifts and resources before you, then you can have what a seminary professor of mine called “a cognitive rest.” And then you can say to yourself or others in your care, “Giddy up, let’s ride.”