Watching two of my grandsons sleeping early this morning, my mind processed the typical grandfather thoughts. How beautiful... how innocent...how blessed we are...etc. Often I wonder what the future holds for these guys, and their cousins in New Orleans, and for other children in general. What paths will they take in life? Where will it take them? Will God use them for great things? Only He knows what the future holds. He holds their future. He has a plan for their lives. He has a plan for mine. He has a plan for yours.
The words of a popular Ray Boltz song, written 20 years ago, talk of the selection of David to be King of Israel. The chorus goes like this:
"But when others see a shepherd boy,
God may see a king.
Even though your life seems filled
With ordinary things,
In just a moment He can touch you,
And everything will change.
When others see a shepherd boy
God may see a king."
David was the youngest and apparently the most insignificant of all of Jesse's sons. In fact he wasn't even in the house when the older sons were brought before Samuel to determine the man of God's choosing. He was tending the sheep in the pasture. Yet when the ruddy faced youth entered the room, God spoke to Samuel's spirit and told him, "This is the one". Samuel and Jesse must have been incredulous, but God's perspective is much different than ours. In fact, He explained to Samuel, "Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart".
When the call of God comes in an individual's life, many folks may doubt it. In fact, the called one may have his own doubts! Consider the case of a fellow named Gideon, as recorded in Judges, chapter 6.
As the narrative goes, the Midianites had overrun the land of Israel and had oppressed the Israelites for seven years. They had looted the towns, destroyed their crops, taken their flocks and herds, and driven them from their homes. The people of Israel were terrorized. The Bible says that the looting hordes were so numerous and destructive that their camels were "like the locusts" swarming across the land. Many of the Israelites had left their homes and farms and moved into caves and dens. They were living in total terror of their enemies.
We are then introduced to Gideon. He comes from the tribe of Manasseh who had been the younger son of the great Joseph. Young Gideon's world was one of uncertainty and fear. His father (like many other Israelites of the time) had forgotten God and fallen into idol worship. The spiritual lives and physical lives of the Israelites were dark and miserable to say the least.
In the narrative, Gideon is attempting to thresh some wheat in a wine press. This, in itself, shows the desperation of the situation. "Threshing floors" where the grain was winnowed were located on high ground. Usually they were on plateaus where the wind blew regularly and aided in separating the chaff from the grain. Wine presses, on the other hand, were in the lowest spots, where the juice from the stomped grapes would flow down into the catch basin.
Here, working in a futile situation, attempting to hide from the Midianites, Gideon had an encounter with a Heavenly messenger.
An angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and announces "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor". The thought itself seemed ludicrous to Gideon. He hardly resembled what anyone would think of as a "mighty warrior". After all, he was working in fear while attempting to avoid the notice of the terrorists.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God is with us? No matter what our circumstances may be, He is there. He has a plan. He doesn't see what we see. He sees the final outcome. He sees what we can be when we allow Him to have His way in our lives. Who knows what mighty men of valor, may be reading this right now - oblivious to who we may become in God's sovereign plan?
Well, Gideon scoffed at the announcement. "If the LORD is with us, why have we been in this terrible situation for the past seven years", he asked. "Where are all of His miracles our ancestors have told us about?" Why has He allowed the Midianites to oppress us?"
Undaunted, the Heavenly messenger announced that God had chosen Gideon to overthrow the oppressive Midianites.
Gideon asked, "How is this possible? My family is one of the poorest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house!"
God saw something in Gideon that no one (including Gideon) could see.
"I will be with you" He said. "You will defeat the Midianites as if they were only one man!"
What a promise!
Gideon still had his doubts. He asked God for a series of supernatural signs to validate this calling. God patiently dealt with Gideon's doubts and granted the assurance that Gideon thought he needed. The young man answered the call, but before he could face the enemy he had to take care of some things at home. His first item of business was to clear all of the idols out of his father's house.
If we are to be what God wants us to be, He must come first. Is there any "housecleaning" that you need to do in your life?
After that matter was dealt with, Gideon began to raise a volunteer army to fight the Midianite force which numbered 135,000 trained soldiers.
32,000 Israelite men answered the call. Gideon was crushed. How could 32,000 men hope to fight 135,000? This would never work. God agreed. He told Gideon, "Your army is too large. Send all of the men home who are scared or do not want to fight."
22,000 went home.
This left Gideon with only 10,000 men to face the huge army of the enemy. Can you say stress?
God then tells Gideon, "Still too many. We have to reduce the ranks."
After following God's instructions for troop reduction, Gideon was left with 300 men.
So now, with the Israeli army being outnumbered 450 to 1, God told Gideon, "Now I can use them. I will use these 300 to destroy the enemy".
Perhaps you know the rest of the story. God gave the victory to Gideon and his tiny fighting force. It became, perhaps, the greatest military upset in history. God saw a "mighty warrior" in a man who appeared to be somewhat of a coward. God foreordained a small group of rag tag warriors with torches, pottery, and trumpets to defeat an alien occupying force.
As a result of his faith and obedience, Gideon earns mention in the "Hall of Faith" recorded in Hebrews 11.
Who'd a thunk it?
Like David - like Gideon - like many others - God chooses who He will to do His work. They didn't see it coming, and neither do we, but God sees the potential. God prepares us uniquely for the work He has for each of us.
Look around you. Look at the little kids. Look at your fellow church members. Look in the mirror. Imagine the possibilities! Who knows what a sovereign God has planned, and who He plans to use?
Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple. Only God can count the number of apples in a seed!