One of my favourite characters in the Old Testament is Gideon. He lived during a time when Israel was ruled by judges rather than kings. Gideon’s natural caution – some might call it cowardice – is seen in the way we meet him, threshing grain in a winepress to hide it from the marauding Midianites, a vicious tribe which has been terrorising Israel for some time. An angel, or perhaps God himself (the text is unclear at this point) appears and addresses him as ‘mighty warrior’, giving him a mission to deal with this enemy. First, Gideon makes excuses ‘…but I’m the youngest member of the weakest tribe…’ and then he checks the credentials of his visitor with a test. (Really. Look it up. Judges 6.)
Clearly, Gideon is not your pick-me type. But once convinced, Gideon accepts his mission, to pull down the Baal altar which Israel has been worshipping, replace it with an altar to God and sacrifice a bull there. Bold action for a man like Gideon. Convinced now that God is doing the asking, Gideon obeys the instructions to the letter. But under cover of darkness. I love seeing his human frailty in this, as he does the scary thing in a slightly less scary way. He is quickly identified as the culprit the following day, but Gideon’s confidence from this point on simply grows and grows. He goes on to greater, bolder things from this scaredy-cat start.
I know I’m not alone in coming up with excuses for why I can’t or won’t act. But, as Jesus himself said a few thousand years later, with God all things are possible. There is nothing He cannot do. And if we are supported and loved by this God of the impossible, then what are our limitations? What stops us from being confident people, untroubled by the opinions or the gaze of others? Gideon had a confidence issue, but God showed him what he was capable of, even accommodating Gideon’s weird requests for reassurance.
We won’t get reassurance if we don’t ask. And once we get it, we can get on with whatever we have to do. Even if we have to start out in the dark.