We live in a very pragmatic society today. Most things are mapped out for us. If you look around, you will notice for example – road works, constructions, renovations etc all have an estimated completion date. Under normal circumstances, most projects are planned very well, and we know that the people involved have done their due diligence to ensure that the projects are completed on time. Even when we take the public transport, we look at the routes to take and we know exactly where to get down to reach our destination. Even if we miss one or two stops, we know where to get down and get back on track again. However, when it comes to matters concerning life, faith and our journey, things can be quite unpredictable. There are many stories that bear testament to this fact.
Consider this story. A man and his son were walking through the forest. The son climbed up the tree to play and after a while, the father came to son and told him not to move and stay still. The son was puzzled but he knew his father meant what he said. After some time, the father told the son to keep his eye on him and climb down the tree slowly.
Once the son was on the ground, he asked his father what happened. The father explained that there was a big snake above his head and to ensure that the snake was not threatened, the son had to stay still for a period of time. He also said that in order not to frighten the son, he was asked to keep his eyes on him as he climbed down the tree. If the son had seen the snake, he would have panicked and even fallen off the tree. This might also alarm the snake and would have bitten him too. The boy simply trusted his father and obeyed, thus saving himself.
The simple and short story come to mind lately as I read through the book of Judges. In Judges 7:15-18 we read: 15 As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” 16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
In this short account, a few unusual things are recorded. Gideon overheard the enemies explaining a dream and its interpretation, and he immediately believed and worshipped God. We all know Gideon and his army defeated the enemies by using ordinary things – utensils, musical instruments and torches.
Imagine going to war with large clay pots, trumpets, torches, and just your voice against an enemy that is 450 times the size of yours. How do you compare 300 to 135,000 soldiers? Some would even say the plan is crazy and doomed. One would even ask where the actual weapons are! What would you do? Would you just do it because your leader tells you to do it?
The biblical account tells us that to win the war against the Midianites, all they had to do was to follow the instructions that God has given them. God would do the rest. There was no logical explanation for the choice of weapons! But they obeyed and won the war. This reminds us that the battle truly belongs to the Lord. God does not need us, but he partners with us so that in obeying his commands, we discover the true joy of knowing and doing His will. This requires letting go and letting God take control. As the old hymn goes, ‘to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey’.
We all want to be happy, but we become very cautious when things do not go according to our plans and when we are not given the blueprint. But that is what faith is all about! Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And we worship a God whom we cannot see with our physical eyes. And yet we can see how God works out His eternal plans for us. Hebrews 11 gives us the list of people who had faith in God despite their limitations.
By faith, Gideon and the men and women of faith obeyed God when God called them to do so. They did not see the whole blueprint nor understood everything that was happening before them. But they trusted and paid heed to the word of God, and God did the heavy lifting.
I pray that like the men and women of faith, we will have spiritual ears to hear God’s message clearly and just do it because the battle truly belongs to God. Our task is to hear his voice, know that we are called and simply obey. Let us take heart, keep our eyes on Him because He will do the rest.
2 July 2023