Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Can I do? I am only one person.

Have you ever felt powerless in the wake of all that seems to be going on around you? We turn on the television and see what seems to be madness spiraling out of Washington, D.C.. We see despair, and ugliness on the news, unemployment, business failures, crimes, and acts of total stupidity. Does it ever feel overwhelming to you, that you just want someone to do something about it and make it all okay? There are times when we seem to have so much piled onto our plates, things that must be done, that it is hard to figure out where to start, just adding to the frustration. Have you ever been there?

You are not alone, and you are not the first nor will you be the last to feel this way. However, you are so much more than you want to give yourself credit for. I truly believe that God will never allow you to have a problem, or as I prefer challenge, that you can't handle. Of course, I often wish God didn't believe in me as much as he does, I am sure that you can relate to that one. One of my favorite places to find the mentoring and inspiration to overcome what ever may come is the Old Testament. It is rife with stories of ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things with God's help. We often don't think of these heroes of the Bible as just people, we try to compare ourselves to them after God helped them overcome themselves.

Are you familiar with the story of Gideon? It is a wonderful story. The Israelites had been out of God's favor for seven years and were being preyed upon by the Midianites. These Midianites were not the worlds best neighbors, they were a nomadic tribe of warriors who lived off the labors of others riding in like locus and killing and pillaging everything in site. They practiced a scorched earth policy where not only would they steal anything they came across, food, clothing, women and children to make into slaves, they would poison the wells, burn the fields and buildings that were left behind. This terror had been coming down on the Israelites for seven years which drove them to be living and hiding in caves.

Judges 6:

6And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.

7And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,

One day a young man, who was working on the threshing floor preparing wheat to hide in the caves, named Gideon was called upon by a stranger who was all of a sudden sitting under a nearby tree. This stranger appeared to him as an Angel and said

"The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

I can almost seek Gideon looking around to see who this guy was talking to. His answer was more or less, Who me? How am I supposed to save Israel, of all of Israel, my tribe is the least, in all of our tribe, my family is the least, and in all of my family, I am the least. I live here in this cave, and cannot even afford a wife of my own.

6"And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man."

Gideon asked the Angel to please stay while he prepared a gift for him. When he returned with the kid goat, broth, and bread that he had prepared, the Angel asked him to put it out on a rock, then touched it and it burnt away, and the Angel disappeared.

Gideon asked God, how could He forsake the people of Israel and allow such terrible things to happen to them? In other words, why didn't God do something about it? God answered him, I am doing something about it, I am sending you to destroy the Midianites.

Gideon, as he was coming to believe that maybe this was God, and that it looked like God was going to expect him to actually do something about the coming Midianite army he decided to ask God for a sign. He asked God, "If you want me to fight the Midianites I need a sign, I will leave a fleece out tonight, and if when I awake if it is wet with dew and the ground dry, I will know that you are sending me to this task." So the next morning the fleece was wet and the ground dry. In fact when Gideon wrung it out he had a bowl full of water from it. Then Gideon asked once again, "I am sorry, and I won't ask again, but I really need to be sure here. Would you give me another sign? Tonight I will leave out a fleece, and in the morning if it is dry and the ground is wet, I will know for sure. Of course you know the fleece was bone dry sitting in the mud in the morning.

So Gideon led the Israelite army to oppose the Midianites. Once there God said to him that he didn't want so many fighting for the Israelites, because when they win they could claim that they did it themselves without God's help. God told Gideon to send all who were fearful and afraid home, and 20,000 left leaving only 10,000 remaining. God said there were still too many, and created a test to see who would stay and who would be sent home. Only 300 men were allowed to stay to fight the Midianites.

Gideon took his 300 men and had each take a trumpet and a light, they surrounded the Midianites who the Bible tells us were like locus as far as the eye could see and were with camels that were too numerous to count.

"12And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude."

They blew their trumpets and lit their lanterns and yelled "The Sword of of the Lord and of Gideon!" At this the enemy panicked and retreated, and was followed and cut down by the 300. At the end of the battles the Israelites begged Gideon t be their ruler.

22Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.

23And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

Gideon led them in peace for 40 years, keeping the Israelites focused on God, and God's laws during all of that time.

What can one man do? Gideon shows us that the least of men, with God, can do anything.

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