Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Because He said so

When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”  11 

The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.

The account of Gideon is at the center of a seemingly carefully constructed story of the twelve judges. Just like the judges before him, he is walking in a season which bears the weight of sin. The Israelites failed to destroy the Canaanites and their gods. Thus, a pattern is established. A Deuteronomic cycle is initiated. The Israelites cease serving Yahweh. He abandons them to their enemies. They eventually cry out for help. And God answers them by raising up a judge who will lead them into victory over their oppressor by His Spirit. At some time later, the cycle repeats itself.

Gideon is living in the beginning stages of such a cycle. God's people have not served Him. God has given them over to the Midianites. The Midianites ravage the Israelites' land, taking their crops and their livestock. The Israelites have to seek shelter in mountain clefts and caves for protection (6:1-6).

And there Gideon is. Threshing wheat in a winepress in the attempt to safeguard that which is sustenance for he and his family. Working in a place not conducive to his work. Hiding himself, his life and his food from the enemy who steals.

And there the angel of the LORD appears. Speaking a name over a man who does not reflect such an attribute yet. Calling forth life over those things which dwelt in the bay of fear and death. Empowering an available spirit to do that which He had called him to do.

"The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."

We aren't provided with a prior account of Gideon, but I'm going to make the safe assumption that Gideon didn't feel very mighty or like much of a warrior. Now I will certainly give him some credit for being out there threshing wheat. He's being obedient to his call at that point in time. He's doing the small thing in the midst of challenging circumstances. But, when He hears God's call, his response is somewhat of a respectful 'Pardon me?' His lack of God-centered confidence continues: 'But I am the least in my family.' It gets worse, bless his heart. He asks for three different signs from God before he attempts the first battle and works in the  night on one occasion out of fear that others may see him. 

Maybe that's why I love my boy Gideon so much. Maybe that's why I love my God so much more. I can relate.

For when God speaks, words do not come back void. When God speaks, He accompanies it with action. When God speaks, heaven and earth are created out of nothingness. When God speaks, it is so.

It is a done deal for Him. Because He can see His purposes to completion.

And He does.

"But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet." And the Midianites were defeated with Gideon and his 300 men (Judges 6:33 - 7:25)

A man going about his ordinary business called to something extraordinary. A man lacking belief in what God said he would do, even after the signs, who was not just called to something extraordinary, but deemed something extraordinary.

A mighty warrior you are Gideon. Not because you have acted as one. Not because you have won a single battle. But because I say you are. And I watch over my Word to see it accomplished (Jeremiah 1:12).

The LORD God calls those things which are not, as though they are (Romans 4:17).

God calls you by name child. Dare to believe you are who He says you are. For even if you do not feel it is your present reality, the God who speaks can make it so. And you'll know it was all Him. Go forth, mighty warrior, in the empowering Spirit of Christ who is with you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My olive oil was MIA

 17Though the fig tree should not blossom,
   nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
   and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
   and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the deer’s;
   he makes me tread on my high places
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Habakkuk has challenged my prayer life lately. Though my preference would be to expound upon those three verses for three weeks, I don't think that's wise seeing as I haven't blogged in a year and I'd be boring y'all to tears. Instead, I'm going to note those seven words that have struck my spiritual core: 
"Yet I will rejoice in the LORD"
I'm stubborn enough in my faith to believe God for the impossible;  I know He delights in it (Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17, Luke 1:37). On top of that, I'm learning to consistently ask Him to exceed my expectations when I believe those things for which I'm asking are in accordance with His purposes and glory in the church and in Christ (Ephesians 3:20-21). My intent is not to come before His throne in an over-confident manner, but I do believe we can approach it boldly, as a daughter who acknowledges her God's authority and power.

I'd like to call a recent season of mine "lack.' Not like Habakkuk's  where he experienced the depletion, failure and absence of those things which were life-giving to him. But a lack nonetheless. A little spiritual, emotional, relational, material vacancies of some things that caused me to walk through 'Lack.' Now if I'm in Lack, I'm bound and determined to not miss out on what God may have for me there. Perhaps Lack and I need to be friends so that I can know God to be my Provider. Or maybe I've got Lack because there is an area of sin in my life that has put up a wall between the blessing and favor of my Father, who may withhold  out of loving discipline until due time. Perhaps I'm bonding with Lack out of deep emotion over a loved one who is walking through a challenging season and I'm just not quite okay when they're not walking in the 'more' that I want so badly for them. So I've got some lack. The blossoms aren't there and the olive has failed to produce. And I'm not seeing the cattle and I even live in Nashville.

So one early morning, I prayed. I declared the promises of His 'Yes' over some things. I told the Lord how I knew He could deliver the impossible. By His grace, I truly did believe Him. I believed His Word. And I trusted His timing. I was all for whatever He wanted to do. And then I stopped my mouth long enough to listen and turned to my reading for the day.

And there, in those seven words, my spirit was stilled when I realized it wasn't more faith or perseverance that He was calling me to, but some joy. And not just a prim and proper clap of praise, but some serious celebrating. A flat out exultation in my God.

Not to ask Him for the 'more' I knew He could meet. Not to press in and let Him meet those 'needs' of mine. Not to believe by faith that those 'Yes' responses were mine in Christ.

And not that those aren't right. But I'd missed it. I was about to walk with 'Lack' as a martyr instead of a joyful child of God. Ain't right I tell you. Just ain't right.

Maybe each of those lacks have not been met yet. Maybe the circumstance hasn't changed. But, when I lift my gaze to the God who strengthens me, and He lifts me to tread on the high places, joy cometh. A little smile, a nod of who He is in the middle of the day and perhaps a flailing hand of praise in the middle of a jog. 

Choose joy in the God who never fails you. For the fruit may not yield. That person may disappoint you. The job interview may not come yet. The child may still be a prodigal. Or the dream may wait. But your God is One worth celebrating. You may be surprised to find that you, who are willed to do so, can still bear much fruit when that which around you is barren. The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Stirrings in my soul

Something is stirring in my soul. It has been for quite some time now, with the weight increasing over the last several months. So here, back in the sweet blog-land that I've missed, I will walk forward in one way that know how and write.