Gideon's fleece

So many times I have been drawn to the story of Gideon. So many times I heard of his cowardice. So many times I prayed God would give me courage, so that when He called, I would go without hesitation. Yet each time I study Gideon’s tale, I cannot help but identify with him.

When we first meet Gideon (Judges 6), he is hiding in a winepress threshing grain. He didn’t want the marauding Midianites to take it. The Angel of the Lord appears, calls him a “mighty hero,” and tells Gideon to “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you.”

Here is where I relate: Gideon’s response. “How can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least of the entire family!” (v15)

I am the weakest of the weak. This cannot possibly be.

God’s response is that he will be with Gideon. (v16)

But Gideon doubts that it is even God talking to him. He wants proof. He basically tells God to stay there until his gets back with an offering, so God can then prove himself to Gideon.

Demonstrating remarkable patience and grace, God does exactly that. When Gideon returns with the offering, the angel of the Lord touches it with his staff, and it is consumed by flames; thus, proving his deity. (v17-22)

Further in the story, Gideon raises and army to fight the Midianite oppressors, but before he departs for battle, he wants to make sure of God’s plan. So he lays out his fleece on the threshing floor. If the fleece is wet while the rest of the ground is dry, then Gideon will know that God will help him. Again, God obliges. The fleece is wet and the threshing floor is dry. (v36-38)

Most of us would consider that a pretty remarkable sign, but Gideon is still unsure. “Please don’t be mad at me, but let me make one more request,” Gideon implores God. He lays out his fleece a second time. This time, he commissioned from God a wet floor and a dry fleece. Again, God supplied. Proving that he was going to be with Gideon every step of the way. (v39-40)

The rest of the story is that God dwindles his army down to 300 people, and they defeat the Midianites with clay jars, torches, and horns. Clearly, God was with Gideon.

*****

Did you ever feel called to do something insurmountable? Something contrary to every fiber of good sense and reason? Something that seems so out of your league that the mere mention makes you scoff in disbelief?

I have.

I feel like God is calling me to put myself out there. I feel like he is saying that I need to make myself vulnerable. Nothing has ever convinced me that vulnerability is a good thing. Openness, ergo susceptibility, is a daily struggle for me.

In a world of Midianites seeking destruction, I am supposed to stand with nothing but a few friends, pottery, a torch, and a horn. Practically speaking, it feels like suicide.

So I keep putting out my fleece. If you do this, God, I will know it is you. If you make this happen, I will know I am supposed to do this. If you open this door, I will know I am supposed to walk through it.

Where does it end? When do I finally say enough is enough and I am going to go where you lead?

I imagine it would be a little easier if I had an army of 32,000 at my disposal. But how would I respond if my legion gets reduced to 300? Would I still follow? Would I still trust? Would I willingly march into the battle knowing that is a possibility?

Why am I so quick to forget who God is and what he can do with the faintest offering?

Each and every time I have laid out my fleece, God has faithfully assured me of his plan and protection. What on Earth and I waiting for?

*****

So this is my request: that you would pray for me. That I will stop being a coward and do what I am being called to do. That I can respond in a way that brings honor and glory to God. That God’s promise to be with me would speak louder than my fears.