The Lord answered, “I will be with you”
She stands under 3 feet tall, this baby girl of mine. With one hand tossed up to her hip, she stomps her feet on the ground twice, three times perhaps for emphasis, and screams, “Never Again!!!” in a voice that commands attention, if not respect. If she’s really upset, she might even engage in some finger wagging.
My husband and I stifle grins at the sight of her: two years old and she could command an army.
When she was born, my mother-in-law was away on a missions trip to an Indian reservation out in the Dakotas. We made the call announcing our youngest daughter’s birth just in time to reach Grammy before she left for her missions work that day.
As any proud Grammy would, she shared the news with her roommate that baby Catherine had arrived.
Hearing the name we’d given our daughter, the woman declared, “Oh, a woman of authority.”
It’s something I’ve pondered as I watched my baby–so assured of her own mind—turn into a toddler—set on sharing her mind. I can see the hints of leadership, yes, even authority crammed into the body and soul of a toddler. Tucking away memories, impressions, and glimpses at her developing character, I feel a little like Jesus’ momma, Mary, who treasured things up in her heart.
My Catherine reminds me so often of the seeds we planted in pots on our deck this year. They appear so small and yet inside an explosive force lies dormant, ready to break out of its shell and grow and grow and grow . . . and hopefully produce much fruit.
Holding that ordinary seed in our hands, we can’t begin to imagine the potential for beauty and nourishment within once it receives proper care and tending. The only hint we have of the future is the picture on the package and sometimes even then we’re surprised.
When we planted this year, we set aside one long planter for carrots and excitedly covered over about 20 seeds with 1/4 inch of dirt. Within a few days, shoots of green appeared, but strangely enough, they didn’t look like carrots. In fact, they looked identical to the radish sprouts now growing up in other pots.
I think perhaps my daughters got a little ambitious with the radish seeds and planted them in places I didn’t expect.
Sometimes we look at people or ourselves and see plain, brown, ordinary, small, and insignificant specks. Mystery seeds. If we’re particularly imaginative, we might even think we see the potential for carrots, only to learn later that God really designed us to be radishes. Surprise!
Ultimately, God sees what we cannot. He recognizes all our potential for growth. He sees beyond our insufficiency and the trappings of our untrained immaturity and chooses circumstances, people, and training that will nurture, prune, and tend us into fruitful vines.
This is what God did for Gideon. In a time when the nation of Israel was oppressed by the Midianites and foundering without a king or judge to lead them, God raised up a teenager to save his people.
Scripture tells us:
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ” (Judges 6:11-12).
Mighty Warrior? Who could the Lord be talking about? Surely not this youth doing chores for his dad! We read later that Gideon destroyed his dad’s altars to the false gods, Baal and Asherah, so Gideon wasn’t even a child of a faithful and righteous man.
Even Gideon thought God meant someone else, answering, “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 6:15).
He said, “I’m a nobody from a nothing family. I’m no Mighty Warrior. You’ve got the wrong guy.”
We may think he was right as Gideon puts God to the test repeatedly, asking for signs and reassurances of God’s command (Judges 6). Then on the eve of the battle, Gideon still feels afraid and God offers him further comfort and confirmation by allowing Gideon to overhear the enemy and how assured they were of defeat (Judges 7).
In fact, even when the battle is over, won with only 300 Israelite soldiers against an overwhelming Midianite army, it still seems odd that God could call Gideon “Mighty Warrior.” After all, there’s no question at all who was the Mighty One. The battle was the Lord’s; Gideon was just yielded and usable.
The truth for Gideon and the truth for us is that God looks at us and sees beyond all of our failings and fears. Not only that, but He’s also not limited by our skills and talents. He doesn’t see the potential of what we can do on our own; He sees the potential of who we are with Him.
With God, Gideon was indeed a mighty warrior. That’s why when Gideon asked how any of this would be possible, “The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).
That is the promise He has for us–His presence, His help, His guidance, His reassurance when we are afraid. All He requires from us is trusting obedience and the willingness to embrace His plans and His designs for our future.
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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King