In the book of Judges, Joshua, Israel’s leader, has just died. The Israelites continue to ask the Lord who they should conquer next as they enter their Promised Land tribe by tribe. However, as time passes, Israel stops following God’s commands and starts living among the other people, making covenants with them and worshipping their gods. So to help the Israelites, who are being overpowered by their enemies, God begins to send judges to help them. The judges get Israel back on track following the Lord’s commands. In Joshua 6, the Lord calls Israel’s newest judge, Gideon, to save the Israelites from captivity by the Midianites. And Gideon’s response to God, in short, is “Who—me?”
Gideon begins to list off all the reasons he’s unqualified to rescue the Israelites—his tribe is the weakest of Israel, and to top that off, he’s the weakest in his tribe. But the Lord’s response is simple: “I will be with you.” Gideon still wants to verify that the angel speaking to him is from the Lord, so he goes to prepare a sacrifice, and the Lord patiently waits for him to return and shows that He really is who He says He is. When Gideon understands that he has seen the angel face-to-face, he realizes his own lack of holiness and faith, and is worried he is going to die. Instead, the angel reassures him, and from that point forward, the altar was called Yahweh-Shalom, meaning “the Lord is peace.”
So let’s break this story down. First there is Gideon, his current circumstance being a captive of the Midianites. He wonders how the Lord could be with them since so much bad has happened to them. There hadn’t been any miracles recently. God wasn’t swooping down to save them. So how could He be with them? And the Lord’s response to Gideon is one that he is often saying to us: “Go. I am sending you.”
Often, we are the answers to our prayers. Gideon wanted his circumstance to change, and God called him to be the one to change his circumstance. He said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you.” And when Gideon questioned how that could be possible by listing all the reasons he is unqualified for the job, the Lord simply tells him that He will be with him.
The crazy thing is, God isn’t concerned with our laundry list of reasons that we aren’t qualified to do the things He is calling us to do. Instead, He reminds us of this truth: that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is living in us (Romans 8:11). It isn’t actually about us at all, but about the work that the Lord wants to accomplish. He is with us. The strength we have is enough, but only because we don’t actually have enough strength to do it on our own. When we are forced to rely on God to fulfill the callings on our lives, we truly see his power made perfect, because we come face to face with our weakness and choose to say yes anyways (1 Corinthians 12:9). And that is when miracles happen. Those moments that only can be explained by God. We should want as many of those moments as we can get.
God isn’t concerned with Gideon proving his capability, being worthy of his calling, having a blameless past, or even a perfect faith. Gideon questions his identity, God’s decision-making process, and even if it’s actually God speaking. Gideon is far from the poster boy for God’s ideal judge. But that’s what is so great about Gideon— he’s real. He voices his questions and fears to God, and God answers him. The Lord is patient and gracious with Gideon, and his authenticity with God earns him a spot in the “Great Examples of Faith” in Hebrews 12, next to Abraham, Moses, and other “more likely” heroes.
It’s okay to have questions—it’s even okay to have doubts— about our capability to fulfill the callings God has placed on each of our lives. Because the truth is, if it’s something God is calling us to, it’s going to be bigger than anything we could ever dream of doing. We aren’t capable on our own. But it’s also true that with the Holy Spirit—God being with us—we have authority and power that we could never dream of.
God, who created the universe and could manage it much better than we ever could, decided we were worth it to give it all to us. God, who had a perfect, blameless son, decided we were worth it for Him to die so that we could be with Him forever. Because for God, intimacy is the ultimate goal. To be near to His creation is better to Him than controlling His creation. To partner with His creation to bring Heaven to Earth is better than waiting, far away, for His creation to figure it all out on their own. To come close, even when we aren’t worthy or qualified, is His greatest gift to us.
Author | Erin Gilleland