The Christian life is full of contradictions—even the advent of Christ. The all-powerful God entered this world to save us as a vulnerable, helpless baby. I don’t know anyone who likes their weaknesses, shortcomings, and fears, especially me. However, it’s those very things we loathe about ourselves that can position us for God’s infilling. When we can have the courage to face our weakness and give it to God, that very weakness becomes the point of our strength. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that it’s in our weakness that we are made strong. God’s very purpose of sending Jesus was to give us what we can’t do for ourselves, first of all, forgiveness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.2 Corinthians 12:9
Trouble Sleeping and Inspiration
When I have trouble sleeping, I open my YouVersion app, lay down with headphones, and let it read the scriptures to me. It plays all night, and the first thing I wake up to is the jump-start of scripture. The power of God’s word has the opportunity to get a headstart over bad thoughts. This morning I woke up to the story of Gideon. I love Gideon’s story because he was a weak doubter with low self-esteem who God transformed into a mighty warrior by using contradictions.
Now the [a]Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, and his son Gideon was beating wheat in the winepress [instead of the threshing floor] to [hide it and] save it from the Midianites.Judges 6:11
Wheat in the WinePress
In the story’s opening, our boy Gideon was hiding from Israel’s oppressors, the Midianites. We find him in a winepress, trying to thresh the family’s wheat harvest. The Midianites regularly raided them at harvest time, devastating them financially. They were starving and helpless against the power and controlled this enemy had in their lives. Oppression was part of life, and to survive, they had to adapt. Gideon grew accustomed to using a winepress to process wheat. It’s ineffective and miserable. Like him, to survive, we arrange our lives around those things that bind and control us. In time, our lives are built around that adaptation, and it changes our perspective. God worked hard and was very patient to help Gideon change this mentality.
And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O brave man.” 13 …14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”Judges 6:12-14
Slavery and Freedom Mentality
God’s first response was a spoken contradiction. God called Gideon brave while he was hiding from the enemy and adapting to his fear and oppression. There was no indication that would be the man through which Israel would be delivered. Gideon’s first response was to contract God with all of the reasons why it wasn’t true. He spouted off his laundry list of oppression, echoing the voices that kept him down for so long. This guy had such low self-esteem that he argued with God over how bad off he was. I’ve done this, contradicted hope and freedom, stroking my pain, my embracing my weak state while God’s heart and will are opposite. When I approach God with my weakness, my prayer of “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” God hears, and in the center of our uplifted weakness, he endows us with his strength.
15 But Gideon said to Him, “Please Lord, how am I to rescue Israel? Behold, my family is the least [significant] in Manasseh, and I am the youngest (smallest) in my father’s house.” 16 The Lord answered him, “I will certainly be with you, and you will strike down the Midianites as [if they were only] one man.” 17 Gideon replied to Him, “If I have found any favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speaks with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come back to You, and bring my offering and place it before You.” And He said, “I will wait until you return.”Judges 6:15-18
We give Gideon a hard time, but arguing with our freedom is a normal response to years of oppression. We live with the contradictory voice in our ears, and we begin to think that we won’t have or can’t deserve better. When we have hope, the remembrance of our devastation becomes our meditation and weakens our soul. It’s our reason, excuse, and it keeps us bound where we are. God was gracious with Gideon and is gracious with us. Gideon continued to ask God for proof and confirmation. God obliged until the point where Gideon could stand on his own. Oppression attacks our self-esteem, and we sorry for ourselves. God knows us completely and indulged Gideon long enough to help him build his faith. Then he begins to challenge Gideon to continue his growth into the mighty man for which God called.
That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[a] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[b] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[c] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[d] bull as a burnt offering.” 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.Judges 6:25-27
Mother May I?
God doesn’t mind baby steps on the way to our freedom. I’ve found that healing and often deliverance don’t follow a straight line upwards. It’s jagged. Through the rest of Chapter 6 of Judges, we observe Gideon and his contractions facing death one moment and then being scared of his own shadow. Like Gideon, we grow as we face our own contractions to God’s will for our lives. We observe Gideon moving forward and gaining confidence in his ability to be used by God. He then takes a giant step forward without asking, “Mother, may I” in Judges verse 6:27. He destroyed the altar of Baal and built one for God. After that, Gideon stepped into his mantle of leadership.
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’Judges 7:2
Courageous Contradictory Steps
The Bible says that we go from glory to glory, but this happens as we walk a path while facing contradictions, our failures from our mistakes, and our shortcomings to God’s love and will. In chapter 7, God challenged Gideon by cutting his army from 32,000 to 300. In this post-resurrection era, how much more will God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit do for us when we ask? We need to contradict those thoughts, images, beliefs that keep us bound in fear, victimized, and oppressed. Gideon was forged into Israel’s leader and a deliverer with each courageous step of contradiction to his past and present. I wonder how our lives would change if we contracted every negative thought with Philippians 4:13. Let’s try it this week, and let me know how it goes.
I can do all things through [a]Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13
Listen to “You Say” by Lauren Daigle