Friday, April 3rd, 2004 we received word that another U.S. soldier had been killed in action in the middle east. As disconcerting as that new is, this time was different. You see, something was different and unique about this particular soldier.
His name was Pat Tillman, and what he did was extraordinary.
You see, Pat was drafted into the NFL by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998 as a strong safety. He went on to break the Cardinals franchise record for tackles in 2000. He had a $3.6 Million dollar contract and was at the top of his game. The St. Louis Rams were after him with an offer three times larger than his current contract. Pat Tillman was living the American Dream.
Then 9/11 happened.
As a result, in May 2002 at 25 years old, Pat Tillman walked away from the NFL, trading a multi-million dollar contract to become a United States Soldier making $18,000 per year. Quietly and without fanfare, Pat joined the Army and became and Army Ranger.
It was reported that Pat Tillman’s agent said that he was not only an impact player on the field, he was an impact player in life. Pat swam against the current. He made a difference in the lives of those around him.
I want to introduce you to an impact player from the Old Testament, Gideon.
Just like Pat Tillman, Gideon went about his life quietly, and without fanfare. In fact, nothing is noted in scripture about Gideon until we find his story in the book of Judges starting in Chapter 6.
The story opens with Israel again doing evil in the sight of the Lord (Judges 6:1-6). Up to this point, there had been a pattern of defeat and sin in the life of the nation of Israel. In fact, Gideon is the 5th “Judge” to come on the scene. In those days, God’s people, the nation of Israel, did not have a king. So when things got bad, God would raise up a “Judge” to deliver his people from the oppression they faced.
You might be asking yourself, what is this great sin Israel was committing to get them in the jam they were in? Scripture shows us that quite simply, this sin was disobedience to God. They had set up for themselves idols to worship in direct disobedience to God’s first commandment to have no other God’s before Him. As a result, this sin was having a devastating impact on them from the oppression of an invading army called the Midianites. God’s hand of protection, favor, and blessing had been removed from them due to their disobedience. (Judges 6:10 “You have not obeyed me”)
Obedience brings blessing, disobedience brings conflict.
Funny isn’t it, how God uses tough times to get our attention? This is what happens here. In verse 6, we see that the people finally “cry out to the Lord." Then God begins to move. And He moves in an unlikely way. He chooses a man named Gideon to deliver His people.
In Judges 6:11-16 we see God’s call to Gideon, but Gideon is quite confused. You see Gideon was from the tribe of Manasseh, which was the second from the lowest tribe in Israel. To make matters worse, his family was the lowest family in the tribe and he was the youngest in his family. He was literally the least of the least. How could God use him?
Fortunately for us, God sees more than we do. We see inexperience, God sees potential. We see inadequacy, God sees a willing heart. You see, God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
The Lord continues to move and confirms His priorities with Gideon with His presence. Verse 16 says “surely I will be with you." You see, God isn’t going to call us to a task and then abandon us. He will be with us through the end. In addition, God has given Gideon everything he needs to accomplish the task the Lord has given him. Verse 14 says, “go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian.” Gideon didn’t need to take any special classes on deliverance. He didn’t need to get bulked up or take any special training. He already had everything he needed to complete the task the Lord had put before him. God uses you where you are with the skills and abilities you have to accomplish His purposes in your life. Is He calling you to a task that seems impossible? Good!
Know this, God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.
So... Gideon gets moving.
The first thing he does is he gets right with God. How does he do that? He removes the idols in his life. Verse 24-26. Gideon goes back to where the train left the tracks, and he makes it right. God then uses Gideon’s private faithfulness to spur his public usefulness. Gideon makes it his first priority to get the idols out of his life and return to obedience to the Lord.
Now, if you have read this passage, you know that the Lord did some amazing things in Gideon’s life to get him to point of becoming Israel’s deliverer. But Gideon still isn’t convinced he is the man for the job. So, he asks God to confirm to him, not once, but twice what God wants him to do. The beauty in this is that God is developing Gideon into a fully convinced servant. God is patient with us as well. Do you sense the Lord leading but you’re not sure? That’s okay! Ask Him, seek Him. He will be found.
Finally, we see that our success is determined by God’s power, not our own. Reading the story further we see that Gideon accepts the challenge to deliver Israel and is now faced with a Midianite army of 135,000 with only 32,000 men of his own. So, what does God say about that? He says “Gideon, you have too many!” So, Gideon tells his men that anyone who is afraid can go home. As a result, 10,000 men leave him. Now he is down to 22,000 men verses 135,000. God says there are still too many! So, He whittles the army of Gideon down to 300 men. The odds are now 450 to 1.
God creates an impossible situation for Gideon. Why? To exalt the name of the Lord and to leave no doubt as to who delivered the children of Israel. Luke 18:27 says, “ what is impossible with men is possible with God.”
You see, accomplishing God’s purpose for your life is not determined by position, your bank account, or your skills and abilities. It is all about the Lord working in you. God is looking to glorify Himself through His people who are fully and completely dependent on Him. He invites us to join Him in doing His will. When we do, God is glorified, and we are blessed.
So, what about you? Is God calling you to a task that seems impossible? Good! You’re in good company. Put your hand to the task and get started today!
- God uses tough times to get our attention. Is God getting your attention today?
- God always sees more than we do. Do you see yourself as God sees you?
- God confirms His priorities with His presence. Do you sense God in your life today?
- Private faithfulness is a pre-requisite for public usefulness. Do you need to get right with God? Do it today.
- God is patient with our faith process. He meets you right where you are.
- Success is determined by God’s power, not our own. Will you trust God with your life today?
(This article was written using scripture and notes from various sermons I have heard over the years.)