Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Swallowed by a Whale and Rescued





A startling, unflattering revelation. I am just like Jonah...joyful and grateful when God sends little blessings. Sorrowful, angry, even temper-tantruming when He sends struggles.

“Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.””
‭‭Jonah‬ ‭4:6-9‬ ‭

I read this passage this morning with the sorrowful recognition that despite all the miracles of God Jonah (and I) have seen, we still struggle with self-absorption and lack of trust. Jonah was saved from drowning at sea by being swallowed by a great fish. He was in the belly of the fish, alive for three days. The fish then vomited him safely onto dry land.

Who could complain to God after that kind of spectacular rescue???

Me.

No...I have never been swallowed by a whale, but I have faced other drowning moments in life. I don’t always love the method by which God rescues me, but He always has. I don’t like the unavoidable fact that He even brings the struggles sometimes as He did when he provided a worm and scorching wind and blazing sun to destroy Jonah’s comfort in the shade of the plant. But there is a purpose in ALL of the trials or the God who has a perfect plan would not bring them.

I know this because His Word shows how portions of His often inexplicable ways unfolded and led to triumph, victory, and glory to God. To know who God is, look at who He has been. To know what God can do, look at what He has done. To know that God can be trusted, remember His trust-worthiness in the past.

Jonah had the same prideful and unwilling heart as I have. Jonah kicked and screamed over God’s plan, and then had a hissy fit when it wasn’t what Jonah wanted. Jonah sulked and obeyed ultimately, but it was a grudging obedience at best.

Yet God used Him.

Sanctification is a process. God can use me in the midst of that messy, sporadic, wandering path. I don’t want to be like Jonah. I’d rather be perfect. Nonetheless, I am hopeful this morning that despite the fact that I am NOT, God IS. That is the only hope any of us have.




Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Hallelujah Chorus in the Courtroom




Almost everyone in the pro-life world knows Flip Benham. He is a boisterous, strongly opinionated, voracious defender of Jesus and of unborn life. A pastor and prolife advocate for decades, he was responsible for leading “Jane Roe” to the Lord. She was Norma McCorvey, “Jane Roe” of the infamous Roe V Wade landmark case legalizing abortion. He also baptized her. He won her over through love, truth, and persistence.

The “pro-choice” people hate him. In my five and a half years as a Cities4Life counselor on the sidewalks of the SE busiest abortion center in Charlotte, NC, I often serve alongside Flip. He is unfailingly smiling and holding a Bible. Even in the heat of summer, he always wears a vest. He has a dress vest for court, which he appears in often. Flip is forever receiving citations or being arrested. In each instance I have observed, he is being targeted not for breaking any law, but for the Gospel, prolife message he unwaveringly proclaims. Human life, including unborn human life,  is sacred and should be protected.

I am often called as a witness, since I am on the sidewalk so frequently. I may not always agree with how Flip confronts those who are killing the unborn, but I always respect and admire his passion and willingness to be a truthful witness of the Lord.

He was once challenged by an officer for “disturbing the peace” in front of the abortion center. Flip instantly snapped back, “I cannot disturb what they do not have.” That’s Flip. Quick. Funny. Filled with the love of the Lord and the desire to defend what God would have him defend.

The latest court case was Thursday, August 8. Flip was charged with assault. I was down the street from him when the alleged assault occurred. The zoning people who have been capriciously misapplying the picketing ordinance in order to seize our signs slowed their car as they approached me. My sign was on private property owned by supporters of Charlotte Cities4Life. It was leaning against a tree but I was right nearby. I knew what would happen. I raced to my sign and held it. The car stopped. 

“You cannot lean your sign against a tree,” the zoning official said.
“It is private property and we have their permission,” I said.
“Signs must be held, even on private property.”
“What about all the voting signs I see, even have in my own yard, all on private property. Why are they not seized?”
“They should be,” he said. “We can’t seize everything.”
“Then why are you seizing ours?” I asked. “Please show me the ordinance that says what I am doing is illegal.”
“I will email it to you,” he said.
“That is fine, but please show it to me now. Pull this ordinance up on your phone.”

He refused, and shaking his head, drove away. At this point, he drove on to Flip, who had laid his signs on the ground while answering a phone call. When he saw the zoning officials approach, he knew what would happen. He ran to his signs and stepped on them. The officials tried to wrench the signs out from under him and Flip fell to his knees, brushing one of the officials in his fall. He begged them not to seize his signs (which are expensive.) They refused. Flip called 911 to report the stolen property. The officers arrived, heard the story, and filed the complaint. No complaint was filed against Flip.

Till later…

The zoning officials went to the magistrate and said Flip had assaulted them. Later, Flip was arrested. There was no evidence, no injury, and his story was very different from the zoning officials’ story. The officer who had responded to the 911 call had seen no evidence whatsoever of assault. 

It didn’t matter. Flip was arrested, spent some time in jail, posted bond and was released. 

I met him along with two other witnesses for his defense. None of us had seen the actual incident that time. We had seen the zoning officials seizing our signs countless other times however. I knew from my interaction with them just moments before the incident with Flip that they were out to find a way to take our signs.

Because we were potential witnesses to be called to testify, we had to wait outside the courtroom. It was a long wait. We were never called, but finally Flip and his incredible lawyer, Corey Parton, emerged with huge grins on their faces. 

Not guilty. According to Flip, no judge had ever pronounced “not guilty” with more confidence or more alacrity. Corey told us that the three officials all gave different stories of how Flip assaulted them, none of which were believable. Flip had desperately wanted to share the Gospel when he testified, but he was not ever called to the stand. It wasn’t necessary. The zoning officials were incriminated by their own fumbling deception, like the infamous Haman who was hung on the very gallows he erected for his enemy in the book of Esther.

“Jesus was never mentioned today, “ Flip said later (just as God is never mentioned in the book of Esther), “Though, His justice was done and His mercy bestowed upon each one of us.  He was glorified!”



*photo above of Flip Benham and attorney Corey Parton of Parton & Associates, PLLC
*David Redding of Redding Jones, PLLC, has also been working with Flip on this case and others.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Culture of Death Pushed Back






It was a hot day, spits of rain making our volunteers scurry for umbrellas. Thus far, we’d had few interactions with the women intent on abortion. That is not to say we were discouraged. Most of us have been out there for years and know that God has the victory when we show up. 

We were there. 

Sweaty, bedraggled by rain, but there. 

Every woman who entered the abortion center heard our gentle pleas to trust God, not changeable circumstances or feelings. Every woman had heard the truth of her baby’s development, and God’s beautiful design, plan, and love for each precious one now in imminent danger. Every woman had been offered help and resources. We knew we had done all we could do and now it was up to that woman and God to alter the day’s outcome.

A van pulled over for one of our counselors. There were several smiling children in the car. The mother of the happy brood rolled down her window and shared an amazing story. Eight years ago, she had come down this road with a very different agenda. She had been headed to the abortion clinic to kill her baby. She didn’t want to do it. Every fiber of her being as a woman and a believer in God screamed against what she was there to do.

But she tearfully admitted to the Cities4Life counselor she stopped to talk with eight years ago that she had no choice but to kill her baby. She had several other children. She alleged that she had just been to Youth and Family Services for help. She claimed they told her that unless she aborted her baby, they would seize custody of her children from her.

The Cities4Life counselor assured her they could not do that. She offered bountiful resources and help. Gratefully, Patricia chose life. Now, she pulled over with her happy van of children to thank us and to encourage us not to stop doing what we are doing. 

“You helped me so much,” she said. In fact, she had been driving on Latrobe Drive to show her children the place of death...what she had almost succumbed to. She told them about these people who rescued her, these people standing in the rain on the sidewalk in front of the abortion center. She introduced the eight-year-old boy who is alive today because Cities4Life volunteers were there on the sidewalk that terrible day. 





“And now, I want to bring these children and volunteer with you,” she said. “I want to tell the women not to believe the lies and that they should not destroy their blessing!”

I gave her our volunteer information after asking if I could take her picture and share her story. She said she would very much like me to do so. She was very angry with Youth and Family Services and asked if I would share what they had done to her as well.

She drove away. About half an hour later, she reappeared with a man in the passenger’s seat. She introduced him, the 8-year-old’s father. His eyes were bright with a sheen of tears as he clutched my hand smiling broadly, and said, “Thank you, all of you. Thank you for saving my baby.”



“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬





Sunday, July 14, 2019

When Everyone Lays Down the Sword





An amazing event happened at the Charlotte abortion clinics. The police, the Cities4Life pro-life counselors, and the pro-choice clinic escorts and advocates all joined forces to offer help to a woman in despair. I cannot share details for obvious reasons but a woman clearly let the clinic know she was being coerced to abort against her will, a victim of domestic abuse.

The folks on each side of the divide over the choice of abortion gathered together to discuss how they could help this woman. They talked about how to avoid causing greater harm with the violent boyfriend while rescuing the woman. One of our counselors called me to ask for advice. Then she put one of the pro-choice folks who has ardently opposed us in the past on the phone with me. We discussed the pros and cons of various strategies. I was standing near a police officer who we feel is antagonistic to us and seems to arbitrarily apply the law to hamper our efforts to reach the women. I asked him what he felt we should do. He was remarkably helpful.

A pro-choice person standing nearby overheard and came to offer her advice. We all gathered together trying to discern the most effective way to save this woman and her baby.

Dumbfounded cannot begin to describe how I felt afterwards. The pro-choice people THANKED me and our other counselors working on behalf of this woman.

Later that day, a woman drove out of the abortion center and told us she chose life. She pulled over in the street in front of the same clump of police officers and pro-choice people who normally insist the cars not stop, and that they not talk with us. I have overheard them countless times telling the drivers that we are crazy and not to talk to us. Not this time. 

I stepped into the road and talked with the woman for five minutes, giving her my name and number so we could talk more later about the resources we could offer to her. Not a single officer tried to wave her on. Not a single pro-choice person tried to interrupt or end our discussion.

For a moment, the earth stood still in unified spirit.

Later, when I spoke with that woman on the phone, I learned she was also being coerced to abort. When she chose life, she let the father of the baby know she had changed her mind. He had insisted she abort and given her the money to do so. He was angry she had now changed her mind and insisted she reschedule. She was in difficult circumstances, all alone. She didn’t want to abort...but what else could she do? She told me she felt defeated. Overwhelmed. Hopeless.

I shared our vast array of resources including the mentorship program with Lovelife Charlotte. She said if we offered nothing else but the support and friendship of the mentor, that would be enough. Every concerning issue she raised, I listed resources that could help. We talked at length about God. I learned that a series of bad choices had led to her difficult life, and she was struggling so much that she had lost any faith she might have had in God. She hadn’t prayed or gone to church in years. YET, she said it was God who showed her the signs not to abort, including our team stretched all along the sidewalk offering help.

As I shared the truth of the Gospel, what it really means to ask Jesus to be Lord, and how He paid the penalty for our sin and suffered the punishment we deserved in our place, she told me she wanted that. For the first time in years, in her own poignant plea, she prayed aloud to God and submitted her life to Jesus.

We don’t yet know what will happen with the first woman who was being coerced. For now, her baby is alive. I do know the second coerced woman is on a new path entirely; the bondage of sin broken.

Coercion occurs in most abortions according to some studies. It is certainly my experience after several years counseling on the sidewalks of abortion centers that the majority of women who abort are pressured to do so. I am grateful that the pro-choice crowd was able to see and act appropriately on the issue of obvious coercion. My hope is that their eyes will also be opened to the depravity and horror of a mother EVER taking the life of her own child in the brutal act of abortion.

Nonetheless, I pray the spirit of light and of life that touched that dark place yesterday for a moment will endure.

Psalm 9:10 


And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 31:14-15 


But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Romans 15:13 


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

I Am Almost Certain I Went to Heaven but They Called It First Class




Well it seemed like a disaster. A trip across the country to see my extended family and my neice’s wedding was on the verge of collapse. Nasty weather up and down the entire east coast had closed the airport hubs. After sitting for several hours in the airport, it was clear my flight, the day before the wedding, was not going to happen. Due to the multiple closures and thousands of rerouted passengers, who must have been more savvy than I, there was no flight possible to Seattle for the next two days. The wedding would be over, the family members all returning home.

I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t. But I did. I collapsed in a puddle of tears as the gate agent told me there was no way I was getting to Seattle in time for the wedding. And here is the final kick in the rear: no tissues in my purse. I had every other emergency equipment known to man in my huge backpack and belly pack but not a single tissue to stem the flow of snot and tears.

Something broke in the heart of the beleaguered gate agent. She disappeared for twenty minutes while I wiped my nose and cheeks on my soggy sleeve. When she returned, she had a flight. It would get me to Seattle the following day, two hours before the wedding. I may or may not make it in rush hour traffic, with the venue an hour and a half from the airport...but it was a glimmer of hope.

And I was booked in first class. I was to be wined and dined like the rich people. I’d always envied them in the past as I’d mooed my way into cattle class in the back of the plane. What did they have that I didn’t? Besides oodles of money?





I am here to tell you: spend the extra $300,000.000 for a first class ticket. Who cares about retirement or eating next week? It is worth it for one hour in first class.

OH. MY. LORD. AND. SAVIOR.

If heaven is EVEN CLOSE to as good as first class, we believers are in for a real treat.

First, they show up with smiles and beautiful ladies tell us that they are there to serve us. Then they take our drink orders. We can have anything we want. As much as we want. Then the menus are rolled out. The lunch offerings would be half my monthly grocery allotment. By the time they reach me, they only have one item left. It doesn’t matter. I am convinced Jesus has returned and is sitting in the first row. Nothing else explains it.

Then they bring the food. Now I had not eaten for 9 hours which may have something to do with how I responded, but folks, I was groaning out loud with every bite. I would have licked my plate if my seat mate was not already shooting concerned glances my way.




They brought warm washcloths for us to clean our fingers. Held out to us with tongs...like we were royalty.

As I write this, I don’t know if I will get to the wedding in time. It doesn’t even matter. If my First Class experience is only metaphorically a taste of heaven, I am ALL IN. Seriously, if you are on the fence, ask Jesus to be your Lord now. Submit your life to Him. Now. You cannot believe what you have been missing.

Update: I made it. I saw the lovely bride and groom exchange vows and loved every minute of the evening. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I love how God gives us glimpses of His Glory. While I was using a humorous analogy in the joys of First Class air travel, one of the most telling glimpses of His glory is when His love is revealed through others. Family gathering from afar, despite rather daunting obstacles to celebrate the love and major events in each others’ lives is one of the most beautiful examples of love, I think.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.””
‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭NIV‬











Friday, June 7, 2019

When All Hope is Gone, God is There






A couple of weeks ago, a sidewalk ministry from another city referred “Zoe” to me. Zoe was about to be homeless with three young children, escaping a life with an abusive boyfriend, with no money or hope.  The woman was referred through Sharon of Happy Warriors for Life, a ministry of The Upper Room. Sharon and her friend had been working with this woman for months. They had helped Zoe out of suicidal intent and desperation over her unplanned pregnancy. However, with limited resources and the need for Zoe to leave her home and her city in a matter of weeks, Sharon contacted Cities4Life to help.

Zoe was determined to start a new life in Charlotte. She had even found a job, due to begin mid-June. However, she had no money, no home, no childcare, and a litany of strikes against her from her past, due to poor choices and limited options.When she called me, the first thing we did was discuss God. I shared the Gospel, and explained that rebellion from God is often the root of most of our struggles. She agreed, and during that initial discussion committed her life to the Lord. 

Childcare fell in place, free for all three children. Safe Families, an organization that takes children into loving Christian homes while the mother gets her life in order, found placement for her children. An amazing home was found and money raised by supporters to pay the security deposit. Other supporters sent supplies for Zoe’s children. LoveLife Charlotte provided a mentor who would be an emotional and spiritual support. Sheryl Chandler of Truth and Mercy Pro-life Ministries planned a baby shower for her young baby. So many loving Christians and ministries rallied in support of this one desperate mother. Everything was perfect.

And then it fell apart. 

Unknown problems from her past came to light in a background check, and the perfect little house was yanked away. All the other pieces of gluing her new life together in Charlotte were dependent on a place to live. She worked frantically to right all the things that had been exposed in the background check. She had less than a week before she would lose the commitment from the other elements of the plan that had been so perfect.

Over the next week, a roller coaster of victories from God and attacks from the enemy of her soul threatened to derail her vision. At one point, just a few days ago, she said, “I’m done. I am defeated. I can’t do this. I knew it was too good to be true. Nothing good ever happens to me. I knew it would fall apart.”

Zoe had lost hope. I was surprised she called me. Her voice was dead as she told me the impossible situation she now faced. There was not enough time, money, energy, or hope left to accomplish what would need to be done. Not in three days. Not in a lifetime. She was finished. God seemed to have lured her to a point of victory and then kicked the chair out from under her.

“If you give up,” I told her, “You give Satan the victory. You committed your life to Jesus. You need to follow Him and honor Him from this moment forward. Satan can take everything from you, except God. Don’t let Satan destroy your faith. So often, Satan attacks and we give up. He strikes hardest when we are on the verge of victory. Don’t give up. Love and trust God, and follow Him, no matter what.”

Remarkably, as we prayed, she calmed down. She thanked me. She told me she received the prayer of hope and she would trust God, though she could see no way out of this mess. We worked out a list of the things she was to do, despite every one of them appearing hopeless. Sharon also contacted her, and urged her not to rely on her past method of dealing with adversity, but to move forward with God-honoring actions. 

So she did. She contacted each agency with a blot against her on the background check and worked out an honorable plan to make it right. She would trust God, though honestly none of us saw a solution to the immediate problem. 

Then, the director of Cities4life, Daniel, suggested I call Life House in Rock Hill for potential temporary housing. This is a new facility that had just opened. In fact, I had been to their open house a month earlier. I told him I had thought of them, but they were a maternity home for pregnant moms. Zoe’s baby was already here.

Meanwhile, moving forward expecting a miracle, one of our Cities4Life counselors, Allen, offered to move all of Zoe’s possessions to Charlotte. Two other Cities4Life supporters, Crystal and Beth, responded within minutes to my Facebook plea for a storage place for Zoe’s things while she was in temporary housing…which was as yet, nonexistent.

The wonderful job would start in two weeks. Everything else was in place: Safe Families placement for her children, childcare, a mentor, moving assistance, storage for her possessions, supplies and donations for her children through loving Christians…but no home. 

That night, with no other options, I decided to contact Life House as Daniel had suggested. The worst they could do was say no, and perhaps they would have other ideas for us.

The Life House director, Eileen, listened to the story about Zoe’s plight. She could make no promises, but wanted to talk with her board of directors after gathering more details. After speaking with me, she called Sharon of Upper Room Ministries, and then finally Zoe herself. She told us the Life House board of directors would need to interview Zoe the following day as this was not the typical situation they were designed to deal with. They would then convene and decide if they were willing and able to take on this unusual challenge.

Our team of several ministries all prayed and held our collective breath.

Then Sunday night, one day before the deadline necessary for all the pieces to be able to be implemented or all would dissemble, Life House notified Zoe of their decision. 

She was accepted into their program.

When the first housing option fell through and Zoe’s background check revealed unknown issues, she felt as though her world had collapsed. Why was God doing this to her right after she had made a commitment to follow Him?

In all honesty, I could not answer her. All I could say was I knew God was trustworthy, therefore, trust Him. And now, He had engineered something that was completely unexpected but would provide life skill training, spiritual counseling, financial counseling, parenting training, and a safe environment…all for free. 

When He had closed the first door, He opened a far better one.

The group text I had sent in the morning to all the players in this incredible drama now exploded with cheers as Zoe told us the good news. Praise God, praise God!

“I am so excited,” Zoe said, “God is so very faithful. And arrived just in time. Thank you all so very much for your prayers, support, willingness to help and for being obedient unto God by allowing Him to use you. For a time such as this!”

*************

Jeremiah 29:11 


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 15:13 


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 12:12 


Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Isaiah 40:31 


But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Hebrews 11:1 

  

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Lord Is With You Even When It Doesn’t Feel Like It






The Israelites would plant crops, build homes, eek out a livelihood, and their enemies from the East would come and ravage their land. God’s chosen people were beleaguered and discouraged. Yet in the midst of this battle, God assures a young man, Gideon, that He is there.

“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”” Judges‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭

I love Gideon’s polite response. Boiled down to its essence, Gideon cries, “Say WHAT????”

““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.””
‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How many times have we cried out in the midst of our terrible situation, “If you are with me Lord, why is all this happening to me???”

Don’t lie. You have said it too. You, like Gideon, have felt abandoned by God. What is worse, you have felt God disappear and disappoint right when you have most vigorously served Him. I have too. Why NOW God, of all times, after all your promises of all your wonders, have you deserted me? Gideon is not alone in that lament.

So many wonderful nuggets of truth are contained in this chapter as Gideon cries out in bewilderment and fear to God. 

First, does God answer when Gideon asks WHY?

NOPE.

I have learned in my decades of following God that He almost never, if ever, answers why questions. I try not to ask them anymore. 

“The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?””
‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God deflects the why of Gideon into a mission: Go and save your people as I am the one who sends you.

Gideon then begins the first in his series of NOT ME UNLESS YOU PROVE WHO YOU ARE statements.

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.””
‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:14-15‬ ‭

At least Gideon is polite. I love how he says pardon me before each of his faithless challenges to God. I wondered why God never lost patience or smote him. If I were God, I probably would have at least had a hornet sting him. Instead, God kindly explains:  “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.””‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:16‬ 

Gideon is not satisfied that God will do what He says or even is who He claims to be. So he puts forth a condition upon his obedience: “Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” Judges‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭

God, amazingly, agrees. Gideon asks God to wait while he gets an offering to place on the altar before God. 

Let me repeat that: WAIT HERE GOD while I go do what I need to do.

(Does this sound like something you or I would EVER do??? I know. Me too.)

Gideon brings an offering of a goat to the altar, God strikes the goat with fire and burns the offering and Gideon now recognizes he has indeed been speaking with God. You would think that would be the turning point for Gideon.

NOPE.

God then sends Him on his specific goal for the day - tear down the Baal worship pole, and erect an altar to God instead. Gideon does so...but apparently not right away. He is afraid so does it at night  when he won’t be seen rather than immediately in the light of day and of witnesses.

We never hide the fact that we are doing what we do in the name of the Lord. Right? Our family, friends, and neighbors are all awed by our boldness in walking with and proclaiming Jesus as Lord. Right?

Now God tells Gideon it is time to rise up against the enemies, the Midianites.  Gideon, filled with courage and faith after his recent obedient victory before God hurries fearlessly to do so.

NOPE.

He tests God yet again: “Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.””
‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:36-37‬ ‭

God smites Him now.

NOPE.

God complies. 

Palm slap to forehead. Really? The creator of the universe shrugs His almighty shoulders and does what Gideon asks.

NOW, at last, Gideon is convinced and will follow God unquestioningly to the ends of the earth.

NOPE.

“Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:39‬ ‭

God double smites him.

NOPE.

God agrees to do as Gideon requests...again.

This apparently satisfies Gideon at last and the next day, God tests Gideon’s faith by winnowing his army to a scant three hundred men. Gideon reportedly is done questioning, rallies his small troop, and defeats the Midianites.

God meets us where we are. I am not advocating fear or testing God before obeying Him. What I am suggesting is that in our weakness, we should not hesitate to approach God. He won’t let us remain as we are...His goal is to transform us. But He doesn’t wait for us to be transformed before He welcomes us and even uses us.

Amazing grace.