The story of Gideon found within the pages of the Book of Judges and the less than stellar history of the Israelites, is one about movement. Due to their continual, almost predictable disobedience to God, His Chosen People had once again found themselves in bondage to a cruel and oppressive force, the Midianites.
Like the tides of the ocean, the people’s passion for God and His ways ebbed and flowed with their needs of the moment and the tempting idols surrounding them. Over and over they drifted away from the explicit commands of God and His provision to become embroiled and overcome by the enemies surrounding them. Then in fearful desperation they cried out to God and, like a great wave, ran to Him repenting all the way.
We are like those fickle Israelites when we let the circumstances of our lives - demanding bills, schedules, relationships, kids, yard work, car repair, jobs - pull us away from God. In His fatherly love, God allows the enemy of stress, tension, and exhaustion mow us down until we are weak and limp, just able to whine, “Please God, help me out of this mess.”
In Gideon’s day, the situation was worse than destruction from a great tidal wave. For seven years, the enemy had so overpowered God’s Children that they were forced to exist in mountain dens and caves. All of their resources were plundered in the land where they were trapped. Their lives had become stagnant.
Sometimes life is overwhelming. We feel stuck in our mess. Depression, boredom, exhaustion sets in. Or, we’ve reached the top of our careers and obtained the goals we had set and begin to wonder if there is anything else. There seems to be nothing on the horizon. We feel stuck. It’s as if were floating still in stagnant water going nowhere. Just as it had been for the Israelites trapped in their holes, it can be easy for us to forget our hope.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
“Movement is life” has been my mantra since my early career as a personal trainer. Moving meant burning calories. Now, dealing with a lot of arthritis and a little bit of aging, I find life is better when I can move. Forget about the calories. God created us to move. Movement gives life.
So it happened that Gideon found himself hiding in an old rugged winepress. But instead of licking grape juice from his sandals or snoozing until nightfall when he could change positions, Gideon kept himself busy.
“…Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to hide it from the Midianites.” (Judges 6:11)
Rather than whining and complaining about being cramped in a dank vat, Gideon found a way to make wheat to feed his family and friends. He used his trap to give life!
When I see people who are physically challenged and are bound to a wheelchair, walker, or even a cane, my heart weeps for their immobility. But then I marvel how, in spite of the challenges, they are out and about going shopping, attending church, playing sports, leading motivation groups, and enjoying life. They are the people I call heroes who inspire me by their tenacity and joy. These folks aren’t sitting around having a pity party. Like Gideon did, they make life worth living wherever they are.
The angel of the Lord came to sit down under a tree and watch Gideon busily beat away chaff. At last He had found someone producing something in the desolate land, making hope an action word. It is no wonder the angel declared, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
When we think we have been abandoned by God in a hopeless situation, even the smallest movement toward something good – watering the garden, cleaning the bathroom, washing the car, or writing a note of gratitude – will bring God’s legions of angels to your rescue, all bearing neon signs flashing, “THE LORD IS WITH YOU!” But you must move first.
Gideon, the obscure man of action with no medals or background check, had just been selected by God Himself to free the starving stagnant people sitting in caves. The first question he asked was “What about them?” He demanded to know why all this persecution had come upon God’s people when the stories of their forefathers had promised God’s deliverance. Gideon did not ask for his own rescue or a new suit of armor. He wanted to be sure God was paying attention to the plight of everyone else. The Lord assured him, “… Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian.” Gideon was on his way to earning a Purple Heart!
John Mason, a renowned Christian motivator, once said, “The first step towards going somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
Our God is a God of motion, and He intends for us to move with Him. To stay put looking and cringing at the world around us is a sure means to death. God is moving forward with purpose, progress, and promises in His plan for His kingdom. Just as He called Gideon to move on out and be a warrior, He is calling us to move and live and be in Him.
“Yet He is actually not far from each of us, for in Him we move and live and have our being…” (Acts 17:28)