Do you ever feel as though you are doing the Gideon? No, it is not a new
line dance; it is more of a dance with God. Do you remember Gideon from Judges 6-7? Arguably the weakest man in all of Israel, God chose him to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites who had been oppressing the Israelites savagely for seven years. But God wanted to make sure that the Israelites saw clearly that it was God who was their deliverer, no one else. After choosing the weakest man as their leader, God asked Gideon to gather an army. When 32,000 men had gathered, God had Gideon tell all the men that if they were afraid, they should return to their families. 22,000 did so. God then told Gideon that there were still too many men, and he instructed Gideon to take the men down to the water to drink. The Lord told Gideon to “separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink,” and He then instructed Gideon to send home all those who lapped with their tongues. That left only three hundred soldiers. Three hundred Israelite soldiers against what is believed to have been hundreds of thousands of Midianites. Though the Bible is not specific about the number of Midianite soldiers, Judges 7:12 tells us that the enemy “had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.”
Why would God do this? Wouldn’t it make sense for a loving God to give His chosen people the best possible chance of victory, and wouldn’t this be through a large, powerful army? It is so difficult for us to remember that while we were created in the image of God, our ways are not His ways. As the Israelites waited for the Messiah, they watched for a strong, military man to defeat their oppressors, but that was not God’s plan. God instead sent a poor carpenter to save us not in this life, but for eternity. Perhaps God wants us to see that it is not through mortal strength that we will find victory, it is through our dependence on Him. Gideon proved victorious in his battle, and no one who witnessed or heard about that day could ever claim it was anyone or anything other than God. God’s power was made perfect in the weakness of the Israelites (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I have been training hard in an attempt to join Team Inheritance of Hope at the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I had to start early, as I have a long way to go before I will be able to even consider jogging a marathon. Participating in this race is something I believe God has led me to do, as I have had no desire whatsoever to do such a thing in the past. Yet I started my training with enthusiasm and confidence that I would finish this race. Then I found myself doing the Gideon.
A couple of weeks after starting my training my knee started to ache. Our beautiful yellow labrador pup had run at full speed into the side of my knee a few months prior, sending me to the ground. The knee hurt for a few weeks, but then felt better. Though seemingly not a serious injury, the training aggravated whatever is going on in there, and the pain in my knee has been increasing as my training has become more aggressive. The knee was God sending home the first 22,000 soldiers. Then, just this past week the doctors found a new mass in my chest that presented differently than the liver cancer that remains in my lungs. After tests and a biopsy, I was encouraged to learn that the tumor was benign. However, the doctors felt the mass could be precancerous, possibly a secondary cancer caused by the radiation to which I was exposed over the course of many years and many scans. The doctors recommended a lumpectomy as soon as possible. I will be having that surgery next week. This news felt like God relieving all but the final 300 soldiers.
As I continue to train, mostly through swimming, and pray that I will be strong enough to participate in October’s race, I have been encouraged by the story of Gideon. I think all of us with a life-threatening illness feel at times like we are doing the Gideon. Sometimes it feels like one blow on top of another, and we begin to wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” Oh, He is with us! Though I am unsure of God’s plan for me, I am hopeful that I will finish this race. On that day, no one will be able to say that I finished through my own strength. It will be glaringly obvious that God is once again doing the Gideon.