Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Limited Resources= Bigger God

Judges used to be one of my favorite books in the Bible, I loved the drama of Samson, the leadership of Deborah and the honesty of Gideon. However, I recently re-read Judges and all I can say is that my new description of the book is that it is a bunch of stories of "men behaving badly." As I recently re-read it while attempting to "Read the Bible in 90 days," I felt as if I was reading the transcript of a sensationalist evening news program.

Even though I found much of Judges very disturbing, I prayed "God show me what you want me to get out of this, how can I apply these passages in my life." I felt drawn to a passage from Judges about Gideon. In Judges Chapter 6, God called Gideon to be a leader of the Israelite people against the Midianites. For seven years, the Midianites had made living off robbing and pillaging the Israelite crops, kind of like the Grasshoppers who terrorized the ants in the movie, "A Bug's Life." In fact, the Midianites are described as locusts in this chapter. It was a miserable, heart-breaking situation for the Israelite people (which they justly deserved because of the previously mentioned "men behaving badly behavior") but God in His mercy raised up Gideon to lead the people of Israel to fight against the Midianites.

After destroying a couple of idols, Gideon called the fighting men of Israel to assemble by spring that was south of the Midianite camp. Judges 7:2,3 records what happened next, "The LORD said to Gideon, 'You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained." After this first cut, God then winnowed the men again and Gideon was left with only 300 soldiers. In a miraculous turn of events, Gideon and the 300 men routed the Midianites and enjoyed peace for 40 years.

I must confess, I have loved the story of Gideon since I was a young girl. I've been drawn to the contrast of his bravery in pulling down the idol of Baal and his fear of fighting the Midianites. I appreciate his honest discussions with God and God's patience as Gideon puts out not one but two fleece to be certain that God would save Israel through Gideon. Plus I love the happy ending- peace for 40 years.

Yet as I was reading about Gideon most recently, I was struck by why God told Gideon to send home the first group of soldiers, God said, "In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her.." By limiting the Israelites' military resources to such a small number, there would be no doubt that the Lord had given the victory.

Just as God invited Gideon to join in His defeat of Midian, God allows us to experience the miraculous in our lives. However, to make sure we see the miracle, sometimes He brings us to the point of having no resources of our own, such as only 300 fighting men or $3.00 in the bank, to make sure we get the point. It is He who gives victory, He who heals, He who provides. Sure we have to be faithful and do what God has told us to do, whether it is fight, take up our mat and walk, or simply trust Him but there is no doubt that it is He that blesses us, provides for us, heals us and gives us the victory.

In Gideon's situation, God limited their resources so they would know that it was God who gave the victory and give Him the glory. He called them to a situation that was far outside of their abilities so they would see His divine intervention. My childhood was a time of limited resources. In the midst of such hard times, I saw Jesus provide in such miraculous ways. He put gas in our gas tank, Easter baskets on our front door and bread in our cupboards. He provided a college scholarship when I was at my lowest point academically.

If you are in a place of limited resources- not enough money, not enough time, not enough work- pray for God to show you His victory. He gives beauty for ashes and replaces the darkness of mourning with His translucent joy. He can turn this time of inadequacy into a time of rejoicing and victory.

Friends- let me know your thoughts. Have you seen God's hand in times of scarce resources more clearly? How do you boast in the Lord? How do you share evidence of God's blessing in times of abundance and scarcity? Thanks for sharing.

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