Just Give Me A Sign

I've always had this thing for the story of Gideon from the book of Judges in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Gideon has this miraculous moment where an angel from God tells him that he's supposed to lead an attack against a more powerful tribe that is terrorizing the Hebrew people.  

And Gideon asks, "Why me?  I'm not up to that.  I don't think that will work for me.  You're asking the wrong guy.  Give me a minute, and I'll think of some other excuses."  

That's my not-so-literal translation of the conversation from the ancient Hebrew.  

And the angel of the Lord answers, "Uh, yeah.  Did you not just hear what I said?"  To which Gideon says, "You said you would help me save Israel, fine.  What I need is a sign that this is for real, that I'm really supposed to do this."  

Then he says, "I'm going to ask something impossible.  I'm going to put this wool fleece outside tonight and will check it in the morning.  If there is dew on the wool but not on the ground I'll know this is a sign from you to do what I'm supposed to do."  

So he did just that.  And sure enough, the wool got wet and the ground was dry.  And then Gideon doubled down and said to God, "Okay, okay, don't get mad... but I want another sign.  I'm going to put this wool outside again and this time if the wool is dry and the ground is wet, I'll know this is a sign from you to do what I'm supposed to do." 

The story doesn't end there, of course. God kept pushing Gideon farther and farther.  If you want to read more about it, check out Judges chapters 6 & 7.   

I think this story resonates with me because I find myself doing the same thing when I feel like God is calling me to difficult things.  I want a sign.  I want it to be clear.  I want things to be exactly as I want them to be before I make a move.  

I want to learn to trust God so completely that I give up what Thomas Merton referred to as "my own private, poisonous urge" to control everything that God has ordained for my life.  

But I also need to learn to give myself a break when I feel the need for a sign from God. I'm frail at times and prone to doubting myself.  The story of Gideon gives me hope that in spite of my need to be astounded, God loves me anyway and is totally okay with blowing my mind on occasion.  

I read something beautiful today from Andrew Murray that I want to share.  It speaks right into this very thing and acts both as a charge and benediction of sorts.    

"So come with every temptation you feel in yourself, every memory of unwillingness, unwatchfulness, unfaithfulness, and all that causes your unceasing self-condemnation. Put your powerlessness in God's almighty power, and find in waiting on God your deliverance."  
Sisters and brothers, may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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