October 19, 2020

In Whose Strength?

 Devotion for the Week...

I love reading fantasy stories. They're usually about the battle between good and evil and most of the heroes insist they are not heroes at all, not leaders or people who should be in charge of anything. They're just doing what needs to be done, just doing their job. Of course, fiction being fiction, they are also perfectly suited for the things that need to be done. They are the heroes, after all, no matter how often they insist they are not.

My guess is that most real life heroes would probably insist they're not heroes, too. They're just doing what needs to be done, serving or saving the people around them. They probably would never have thought they had the strength (mental, physical, emotional) to do what they did, but when the moment came, they stepped up.

The Bible has several stories of people who didn't think they had the strength for what God called them to do. There was Moses, who insisted he couldn't lead the people until God relented and gave him Aaron as an assistant. There was Solomon, who asked God for wisdom because he didn't trust that his own judgement would be enough to lead the country well. In between them was Gideon, who described himself as "the least in my entire family!" (Judges 6:15).

To set the scene, the Israelites were being severely oppressed by the Midianites. In fact, the Bible says they were "reduced to starvation" (v. 6). Then one day the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, who "was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites" (v. 11). I have to admit that I have no idea what a winepress looked like, but Gideon really was hiding in there, since threshing wheat would normally have been done out in the open, not at the bottom of a winepress. 

So, Gideon is hiding out at the bottom of the winepress, threshing his wheat, when the angel of the Lord shows up and says, "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!" (v. 12). Usually when someone says 'The Lord is with you' they mean that God is on your side or He will give you strength. In this case, it was literal - God was right there at the bottom of the winepress with Gideon, but Gideon didn't really get it. He questioned the man he saw, asking why they were having such trouble with the Midianites, if God was really with them. "Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!" (v. 14).

It's at that point that Gideon scoffs at the idea. There's no way he has the strength needed to rescue Israel, since as I already said, he reckons he's essentially a nobody. Did you catch what God said, though? Go with the strength you have. However little strength that might be, it would be enough. Why? Because I am sending you!

God has plenty of strength to share | DevotedQuilter.com
Background quilt is Between the Stars

Are you being asked to do something and you don't feel you have the strength to do it? That's okay. It's not the strength of your strength that matters; it's the strength of His strength that is the deciding factor. In fact, our weaknesses are more help than hindrance. God told Paul, "My power works best in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

We may feel like we don't have the strength for what needs to be done. We're probably right. It still doesn't matter, because God has plenty of strength to share.

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