Friday, June 10, 2011

Go In the Strength You Have

Judges 6:14 The Lord turned to [Gideon] and said, "Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?"
This verse jumped off the page to me as I was reading the scriptures a couple of days ago. It seems so relevant to where I am in my journey right now. That may seem like a stretch to say, but bear with me.

Israel was under the oppression of the Midianites. The Lord appeared to a man named Gideon, the youngest brother in a family from the half-tribe of Manasseh. If you recall, Manasseh and his brother, Ephraim, were born to Joseph and Asenath--his Egyptian wife--while Joseph was overseer of all Egypt. Once Joseph and his Father and brothers were reunited, Jacob (or Israel) blessed Manasseh and Ephraim and adopted them as his own sons and they made up two halves of the tribe of Joseph. All that to say, it would seem that those from the tribe of Manasseh had a bit of an inferiority issue and thought of themselves as being part of a lesser tribe. Obviously, God saw things differently. He called Gideon--a young 'un from a "lesser tribe"--to deliver his people from the oppression of Midian.

I would encourage you to go and read the entire account from Judges 6. Here are a couple of my observations from this passage.
  1.  God is not concerned with outward appearance. We see this clearly from 1 Samuel 16, where the LORD says to Samuel, "The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." You may be from a "lesser tribe" by human standards. You maybe young, old, short, tall, thick, or thin. Those are outward appearances that God does not consider when he prompts us to do something for the Kingdom. He looks at the heart.
  2. God equips us as we go. This is a very important truth to understand. When the LORD told Gideon, "Go in the strength you have," He was essentially saying, "I will give you strength and wisdom on a 'need-to-have' basis." Did you notice that Gideon was not a trained warrior? Scripture does not indicate that he received any training. In fact, God culled down Gideon's army from 32,000 to 300. Gideon and his army, only equipped with rams' horns and lanterns, received just enough strength at just the right time. They were able to chase the Midianites out of Israel, eventually killing those who did not kill themselves or each other in the confusion.
Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, "God does not grant us overcoming life. He grants us life as we overcome." (paraphrased; emphasis mine) I don't know about you, but I've seen this proven true in my life over and over. I've already shared with you in an earlier post about how God has given me strength and clarity of focus in the early morning hours when I've gotten out of bed to meet with him, even though I am not a morning person. Another occasion comes to mind when I think on this passage.

Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to attend a songwriting workshop in Nashville. Despite receiving a lot of positive feedback on my music, I still struggle with doubt and insecurity regarding my abilities in this area. I joked about having to fight a lot of demons just to register for the conference. Then when I got the confirmation that I would have a one-on-one critique session, I almost backed out all together. Even the night before the workshop and the next morning, I was so gripped with doubt and fear that I almost drove past the exit for the church where the workshop was to be held. I didn't know where I was going to go, but I knew I wasn't going there.

Looking back, I can see clearly that God gave me "just enough grace" to take the next step. 
  1. We went to Nashville instead of backing out and staying home.
  2. I got in the car the next morning and turned the ignition.
  3. I didn't drive past the exit, but drove straight to the event.
  4. I got out of the car and went and picked up my registration.
Now that it is over, I am so glad that, by God's grace, I took each of those next steps. I re-connected face-to-face with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. I went to my one-on-one critique and got some great affirmation of my writing. I feel like I'm a better writer and better person for having gone "in the strength I had" and trusting God for just enough grace to take the next step.

Question: In what areas of your life do you need "just enough grace" to take the next step? He's faithful.

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