Our family took Megan up to Chicago this week for her month-long Golden Apple training thingie, leaving her on the campus of St. Xavier University. We’ll pick her up again at the end of July, right in the middle of VBS week (which, even with everyone’s careful planning, has retroactively turned out to fall on one of the worst weeks of the Summer for many of our volunteers).
Having her gone made this Sunday all the more poignant, as we began our four-week, brown-bag-it luncheon seminar on Biblical Parenting. This first week, we talked about discipline -- not how to discipline our children, but about the need to begin by being self-disciplined as parents. Amazingly, no one really ever likes starting there in these seminars... which is probably why so many of us parents don’t start there in our actual parenting... which is a large part of why so many of us struggle to have a consistent and God-honoring parenting paradigm when trying to deal with our children. Oh, I’m not saying that those people are thus bad parents -- just that their parenting is by definition based on their unconsidered feelings at a given (usually very emotional) moment, and that’s inherently dangerous. So we began the whole series by asking people to stop and think about how to work on being the sort of parents who create a stable, consistent, well-considered, Biblically-sound framework for their kids to grow up in.
In our message this week, we talked about a family that... well... didn’t really do that. Gideon’s father, Joash, actually put up altars to foreign gods on his own land. With that kind of background, Gideon naturally grew up thinking that gods are magical things that you have to placate and use divination to understand.
So when God approached him and told Gideon that He wanted to use him to rescue the Israelites from their latest, self-created crisis, Gideon didn’t know what to believe. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in gods -- it’s that he didn’t believe in God. So a Gideon asked God to jump through various hoops to prove Himself. Otherwise, how could Gideon trust Him?
See, to Gideon (like with many of us today), it sure seemed like if God wasn’t making a difficult situation better, then God clearly wasn’t doing anything in the situation at all. It never occurred to him that God might have actually allowed or even brought about that time of difficulty to try to help His people learn something about themselves and their own mistakes. All Gideon saw were the scary, quantifiable details, and all he used to interpret those details was his own comfort level.
“I’m too scared!” Gideon cried.
“My tribe is too small!”
“I can’t see how you’d use someone like me!”
“I’m more weak than you are strong...!”
There are a thousand reasons every day why we shouldn’t believe that God can use someone like us to do what He’s asking of us. But even if the only reason to believe what God is asking is that God Himself has asked it of us, wouldn’t that be -- shouldn’t that be -- enough?
God simply told Gideon to go in the strength he already had. He didn’t need to buff up, he didn’t need to bolster his numbers, he didn’t need to worry about how many numbers the enemy had or didn’t have. No matter what you’re facing today, if God is standing at your side, then your enemy is outmatched.
So just go in the direction that God points you, with the strength that you already have. It will always be enough...