Uh, You Sure?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 23, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Several years ago, I was invited to be on "Ask the Pastor," a TV show where difficult questions about life and faith would be answered by a panel of pastors. The producer, Sheri, was pure energy, grace, and charm. She had a bright warm smile and encouragement for everyone. But every time I met her, she would call me a "mighty man of valor."

I was flattered at first, and then confused. She didn't know me that well, and if she did, I figured I certainly wouldn't be on the pedestal of "valor." Just because I'm a pastor doesn't mean I don't struggle with the same stuff everyone else does. I am human and I sin too. A title, or role, doesn't change how flawed I am. Every time she called me that, I had this feeling like... “Uh, you sure you got the right guy?”

Take a moment and read Judges 6:11-18. Gideon must have had a similar feeling when he was approached by an angel of the Lord. Midian's oppression of Israel was so bad, and their theft of all the crops and livestock so severe, that Gideon is trying to get the grain off the stalks of wheat in the narrow bowl of a wine press. That may not seem outrageous at first, but consider this. Treading wheat usually involved having oxen walk around on the wheat inside a fairly large area enclosed by a rock wall. The wind would blow the chaff (light bits of stalks and shells) out of the enclosure as the farmer winnowed (threw up in the air) what had been walked on by the oxen. The heavy wheat seeds/berries would fall back down in the enclosure. They would then be shoveled up and taken to the mill to be made into flour.

Wine presses, on the other hand, were usually very small enclosures of rock with a bowl shaped bottom and a rut or groove leading from the lowest point of the bowl out through a spout. Usually, women would climb in, in bare feet, and stomp the grapes to squeeze the juice out. A jug would be placed below the spout to collect the juice that would be made into wine.

  So, do you get the awkwardness of what is going on in this situation? Gideon is trying to tread wheat in a space made for squishing grapes. He definitely doesn't have oxen in there with him. He is trying to be subtle and unnoticed, but he has to be stomping (or jumping) on the wheat heads to separate the berries from the chaff. I can just see him: stomp, stomp, jump... pause... look around to see if anyone notices… stomp, stomp, stomp, jump... quick peek around again and act like he's cleaning the winepress... stomp, stomp...

It had to be comical, but it was about to get hysterical. While he is trying to do his best "ninja stomp," an angel of God appears and says, "Greetings, the Lord is with you, valiant warrior." Really? VALIANT WARRIOR? Did the angel say that with a straight face? This is a guy hiding in a winepress from the Midianites, and trying to quietly stomp out grain. Seriously?

Gideon's response almost makes me think he too was feeling patronized and got a little snarky with the angel. But his response also reveals something else going on in Gideon's heart. He seems to be a man who wants to believe God, and has believed the story of God's work with Israel in the past, yet his present situation causes him to doubt. Gideon believes that God has abandoned them because he doesn't see miracles like the ones he heard about in the past. What Gideon doesn't realize is that he is about to BE a miracle.

Are we any different than Gideon today?

We doubt God because we don't see the miracles we expect. We doubt God's plans because He may be using someone we think is the wrong person for the job. We accuse God of abandoning us, or even claim He doesn't exist, because He hasn't made our circumstances come out fair, comfortable, painless, etc.

And yet God's response is to step into our most embarrassing moments and speak the Truth of His plans into our lives. God steps into our most painful or shameful moments and speaks healing and redemption. He steps into our most overwhelming sin and rebellion, and He speaks rescue and restoration. He steps into our most impossible circumstances, and speaks hope, power, promise, and blessing.

What situation are you doubting God in? What challenges are believing that He abandoned you in? What feelings or fears do you believe are impossible to overcome? Are you willing to hear Him call you by HIS name for you?

I only recently began to understand the importance of what Sheri was doing by calling me a "mighty man of valor." I had come to know that she called all the pastors that, but she was not being generic in any way. Sheri understood the burdens pastors carry, the awkwardness of their calling and their ministries in the midst of human messiness. And like the angel that appeared to Gideon, Sheri was deliberately speaking the Truth of God's calling and strength into our frail human lives - so that we would keep trusting Him and stand firmly for the sake of those who are following after us.

Will you take some time to pause and be still. Ask God to reveal His name and His calling for you, and to show you His plans in the midst of your circumstances.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.