11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
I always want to feel like God’s holding my hand through every single life event. I want nods of approval for each act, like a kid working out a math problem on the board in front of the class. I want each numerical step acknowledged as correct before moving on to the next. When I don’t feel his presence, I’m less motivated to act the way I know I should. It’s the difference between parenting in public and parenting in private. It’s not that I’m a better parent with strangers watching, but I am more mindful. Maybe I’ll count to ten instead of five while I figure out what the consequences of not listening will be. Maybe I’ll watch my tone a little more closely. There’s just something about an audience that keeps you accountable.
Gideon and I would have been friends. I’d thresh wheat with him and we’d talk about our day, how the harvest is coming along, what the evening’s meal might be. He strikes me as a practical guy. Which is why, when the angel appears to him, he doesn’t believe he’s going to beat Midian. There is no evidence for such an outcome. He and his fellow Israelites haven’t felt the presence of the Lord in a long while. After seven years under the thumb of the Midianites, they’ve forgotten how to act on faith.
But God is not always going to place a hand on my back and steer me in the right direction. Because he’s a good parent that way. We preach to our kids to be honest and stand up for the weak. But it’s only in the unmonitored moments, on the playground or the lunchroom, when their mettle is tested. What happens at the sticking point, when a kid is getting bullied or they are tempted to cheat on a test? Will they remember their truths even when I am not there to whisper them? This is what God asks of us—to remember and to build resolve. It’s why he tested his own son as he starved and thirsted in the wilderness with no one to talk to but the enemy. Sometimes we must act in accordance with what we know is right and pray our emotions will follow.
C.S. Lewis, per usual, said it best,
Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretense of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest. -From Mere Christianity
Do you ever struggle to do what’s right when you don’t feel the incentive from God?
Sunday Thoughts Link Up!
It’s time for another Sunday Thoughts Link-Up! I know there are many out there with wisdom that could encourage all of us. As long as it’s Biblically-based, I’d love for you to join up and then read and comment on what others have shared. Please also leave a comment here. Think of this as a Sunday morning community group that comes to you. And grab the button if you like…