(Apologies for the photoshopped pic from one of the guys but it amuses me…)
Question: Could you jump and risk everything to win everything?
Could you actually do it?
There comes a time in your life when you have to do it or you might lose it all….
C3P0: “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!”
Han Solo: “Never tell me the odds!”
Are you the type who is always telling everyone why this or that is impossible and never going to work, or are you a risk taker? Now we all know risk takers who really could use their brains a little more and always seem to be jumping from one disaster to another, but I’m not talking about them.
There are a few times in your life when you have to risk it all to get it all. Could you do it? Do you look back and think “If only I’d have had the guts to…”? It took courage to ask her to marry you. It took courage to stand up to your strong willed teenager. It took courage to ask for a raise. You have it in you somewhere so we just need to find it today..
Gideon started with four to one odds against (the book of Judges). Through an interesting process where the 3P0’s went home, he finds himself on the eve of battle with 300 men versus 135,000. Four hundred and fifty to one AGAINST. He still won.
Want to know how?
What we tend to do is look at other people’s highlight reels but we rarely look at the night before their victory when it was darkest. We so love the shortcuts to success and winning the lottery but whether we would go through the process of pain and learning how to deal with great fear like the people we admire so much is doubtful. Let me show you something.. but give me a minute first..
Do you know the odds against you becoming a follower of Jesus? Do you know the odds against you moving one step closer in the relationship you already have with Christ? In my experience living in a fallen world where there is so little light and so much darkness, an individual blind jump of faith from darkness into the blinding presence of the Light is probably greater than the odds Gideon was facing.
We get stuck when we run up against an enemy so much greater than we are. It’s normal, so relax. The power is in the process God shows Gideon the night of the battle before he attacks. This is where the courage for the impossible comes from:
God says “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.” (Judges 7)
And Gideon says “IF I’m afraid to attack? Man, I was scared to death in the winepress when you called me in the first place when I could only lose my food! If this doesn’t work out tonight I’m going to die a slow death and so will the 300 men with me!”
But he took his servant to witness what God had in store for him in the enemy camp. We find a truth here that we don’t like. Two truths actually..
1. Courage won’t come til it’s too late to turn back.
2. Courage only comes after you walk into the camp you’re afraid of.
Imagine going down to the enemy camp because God told you to and hearing a soldier telling his buddy about a dream he just had. “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!”
His friend responds “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”
“I just had a dream that a giant taco came through our front window and stole our fridge”
Your friend replies “ME ME ME! I know what this means! It can only mean one thing!…..”
Truth is stranger than fiction, but when the God of the impossible is involved in your life the hardest part becomes changing your mind and your habits from what makes sense to you to what is really possible with God.
The essence of faith is that it believes in something it can’t see. People scoff at this but underneath I’m convinced we all desperately wish that something outside of the darkness and hopelessness we can see would break into our lives and bring love and acceptance. We think it would cost us our freedom but it really only costs us our pride. Why would you think you can see if you never have?
Their is a cost to the free gift of relationship God has offered every one of us and that is something quite simple, but very hard. We have to jump blind. (I know the whole cost and free gift thing is wrecking somebody’s brain but try Romans 3. The gift is received only by faith. That is the cost. An unopened gift doesn’t help anybody.)
When you open the door from the darkness outside and walk into sheer light the adjustment you have to make is not unlike when we jump into relationship with Jesus Christ. It hurts a little. We find out that our much vaunted independence and self sufficiency are not viewed as all that valuable when what we are protecting turns out to be something that is killing us. We are in need of a Saviour because we have no hope of connection to the God who loves us by methods we could devise. Good works are about as valuable to God as Monopoly money at the store, yet we play the “How could there be a judgement for me, I’ve never killed anybody! I’m a good person” card.
The reality is that we all know we’re lying. We don’t even keep our own rules. And who cares how morally tall we tell ourselves we are? I can tell myself I understand electricity but if I’m continually shocking myself there must be something wrong! Understanding is revealed by results.
The odds against you and I shedding our pride and jumping into the light of the gospel of Jesus are stacked up against us, but God shows Gideon the plan for the battle.
“Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the rams horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!””
In one hand an Earthen Vessel with a Torch inside. In the other a Trumpet.
The Earthen Vessel is your life outside of Christ. When we shatter what we know and what we think we really have to offer God at the foot of the cross we are ready to be raised to new life in Christ.
The Torch is the Light of the world (Jesus). Only in the places where we are broken does the light shine through. Points in irony when the general thinking in society is that what we choose to believe about the distance between God and us is both a personal and non questionable truth. We choose to believe it and that makes it real? This ridiculous and and unevaluated hogwash needs to be shattered for us to see the real me who’s capable of trying to think or work my way out of a situation only redeemable by the the blood of another. We squirm but we might as well call it what it is.
The Trumpet sounds a call to those behind us “Follow me as I follow Christ!”. The sound carried into the camp of the enemy where our brothers and friends are still held captive by the god of this world and says “Hold on! We are coming!”. The sound echoes in the ears of those spiritual forces we fight against saying “We are coming. We are going to take whom we want and there is nothing you can do to stop us!”
Courage is the thing.
I would rather have someone with me who is broken but tends to jump into the light than someone who knows everything and wears pride and self righteousness like a garment. They are of little value because they have forgotten how desperate they were before Jesus saved them and therefore just how desperate they are without mercy today. We cannot forget Who turned the tide. We cannot forget where we came from.
Gideon didn’t forget.
It always amazes me that after a tough victory God often ties the end back into the beginning for me. The enemy commanders Oreb and Zeeb were killed in very specific places. Oreb (The Raven) at the Rock of Oreb and Zeeb (The Wolf) at the Winepress of Zeeb.
The Rock and the Winepress… only Gideon knew why.
The Rock was when God was calling him to higher devotion. Gideon brings an offering of what he had and God told him to put it on the rock. “And fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought.”
The Raven who used to pick your bones clean when you were lost and without Jesus is killed on the Rock of your offering. When you bring everything to God it is all consumed but then the Raven becomes God’s problem. I’ve seen lives picked clean healed by the power of God in a matter of months. Impossible? Not with the God of the impossible!
The Winepress was the place God asked Gideon to step out of. The place he was familiar with where he got his, the place of individual comfort. Yet the place he cowered in the inevitable fear that the enemy would find him sooner or later…
The Wolf killed at the Winepress. The Wolf who tore everything from you. The Wolf who consumed everything you loved piece by piece. The Wolf who went for your throat every time. No mercy. No rest. Only pain.
The Raven and the Wolf brought down. God is able, but it will cost you something. You can’t go home before the battle starts.
Most of Gideon’s men had left, but the 300 were with him heart and soul. The 300 shattered the enemy. The 300 knew something the men at home didn’t.
In the one hand a shattered Earthen Vessel through which the Light shines through.
In the other the Trumpet.
To those behind you “Follow me as I follow Christ!”
To those captives you love “We are coming!”
To the enemy of your soul “We are going to take whom we want and shatter you on the field of battle!”
The 300 knew you couldn’t kill men who were already dead…
your life can’t be taken from you if you’ve already given it away.