The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help… 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. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:1-5, 11-12
Have you been there? That place where you are simultaneously left scratching your head and shaking in your boots? You’re afraid, a bit clueless, and unsure where to go, turn, or exactly what to do? In fact, you have momentarily forgotten who you really are.
That’s where we find our boy, Gideon. But it is so like God to meet Gideon right where he is at—in the winepress and in his fear. Not only does He meet Gideon here in the manifestation of the Angel of the LORD, but He speaks to Gideon’s internal darkness by addressing Him as a “Mighty Warrior,” calling him to do more than Gideon thought possible, and reminding Gideon that He was with him. God saw the circumstances of Gideon, and he would address those, but God was more concerned with the identity of Gideon—so He reminds Gideon of what He sees in him, which is so much more than meets the eye, despite his lack of status and poor current circumstances.
How we need this word to our hearts too! In our world today we don’t face an oppressing army of ruthless Midianites, but we face “enemies” that are just as daunting: joblessness, health concerns, troubled marriages, wayward children, and a myriad of other unwanted trials. Like Gideon, we can feel so lost, hopeless and useless, but God desires to call us by a different name—a name unique to each of us. He longs to speak into our darkness and speak identity over us and to use what seems unusable, or even crazy, for His glory (See 1Cor, 1:18-31). He lovingly reminds us that He sees us as His children from our futures and not our pasts, and He can use us—broken parts and all.
This week, engage in this creative practice: On your bathroom mirror, or sheet of paper if you are more comfortable, list all the things you think of yourself—don’t censor this list. Circle back and ask God to help you detect any lies. Where there are lies, go to His Word and counter these lies with Scripture. Meditate on these truths and walk in the freedom they bring this week, and in the weeks to come. You might even want to take some time to meditate on these truths while listening to Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” or Chris Tomlin’s “Good, Good Father.”
By Sheila Rennau