Judges 6:15-16 – He responded, "But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them." (NRSV)
Have you ever felt God asking you to do something that you were reluctant to do? Today's passage comes from the story of Gideon, very much one of the reluctant leaders of the Old Testament. When the Lord came to him, Gideon was grinding the meagre harvest of wheat in a winepress in an effort to be able to hide some flour from the Midianites to feed his family. At this time in their history, things were going very badly for the Israelites, for they had forsaken God and were being persecuted by their stronger and larger neighbours to the point where they were forced to hide in caves to escape them.
Into this scene, an angel of the Lord stepped with a much bolder plan for Gideon, telling him that he would deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites. Gideon received this news with total disbelief, and only after demanding a sign from God three different times did he actually believe that he had been chosen for the task.
I can certainly identify with Gideon. Part of my retirement plan was to continue my involvement in the church in the community where I grew up. During my working life, I had always attended church and had been on various committees, which worked to give support to the church and its leaders. I looked forward to being able to do the same after retirement. I knew that I had the necessary commitment and would work hard to support the church, but doing this behind the scenes was my comfort zone.
But it wasn't too long before I was asked to take a more active role in the service by reading the Scripture lessons on occasion. As time progressed, this led to my becoming more and more involved in leading worship.
Last fall, our minister answered a call to go to a church in western Canada. During that time of change, the elders asked me to take full charge of the service one Sunday a month, with another minister leading the rest of the services. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to this, feeling that I did not have the experience necessary to take on such a role, but also feeling that we must all do what we can to help when needed.
Recently, the other minister, who was leading most of the services, decided to move closer to his family. I was then asked to lead all the services. Like Gideon, I do not feel qualified for the task at hand, and I am unsure that this is the job which God is calling me to do. But, unlike Gideon, I do not expect God to send me such a definitive sign as the dew on the fleece. However, as I reflected and prayed on it, I felt that God was guiding me at this time and that I had to take a leap of faith and do what I could to help my church.
Many times in life, we must trust that we are part of God's plan for His world, and with prayer, accept the challenges that lie before us to best of our abilities. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can all grow in our faith.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are times in our lives when we find ourselves on uncharted waters. Guide us when we are unsure of the path to take and we are unable to see the goal in sight. Strengthen our faith so that we can understand that You will lead us in the direction that You wish us to travel. Amen.
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