When I was 8, I stared at my friend’s mom as she said, “I love horror movies!!”
“Why?” I was perplexed. “Why would you want something in your mind that is scary? What is there to love?”
“I just think fear feels delicious!” She said very excited.
Hmmm, I thought. That is weird. I hate feeling afraid. In fact, I used to have really irrational fears like the fear that there was a colony of tribal mice under my bed dancing to rhythmic native warrior music around a fire with spears and war paint. I could even hear them! Turns out it was just my heart beat pounding in my ear drum against my pillow.
As it is, I have always been able to identify with people who were afraid. I especially love Gideon, in the Bible. His story is that of a walking oxymoron. The mighty warrior who hid in the wine press.
Gideon, the person, seems to embody all that represents my life-long struggle and victories in my walk with The Lord.
Gideon was a man who hid from danger. He was afraid. It seemed logical, though. The Midianites were ransacking. Hiding seemed logical.
As for me, fear was always hidden under the surface of my life. Always a tad nervous about someone rejecting me, always looking at the the negative things that happen and trying to control them, struggling with just a good nights sleep without nightmares, or jarring awake with a night terror, I walked through life with my emotionally protective armor up!
Mostly, so I’m told, people see me as a strong personality on the outside, but God knows what enemies I have hidden from and wrestled against. He sees patterns in my life that wear me out.
So, that’s where we find Gideon. (and me)- Hiding from the terrible world he was living in…
Judges 6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Israel Oppressed by Midian
6 Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. 2 The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3 For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. 4 So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. 6 So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord.
7 Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian, 8 that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. 9 I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, 10 and I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”’”
Okay. So, this all sounds vaguely familiar. Here we find a nation, God’s chosen people Israel, under his judgement, because they turned their backs on the Lord. (Sound like a nation you know?) There was a lot of fear and hiding from the consequences of the situation they were in, because of their rebellion against God. God said, don’t fear them, BUT OBEY ME.
Enter Gideon, stage right.
Gideon Is Visited
11 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
Here is Gideon hiding in a wine press. This seems logical, (again.) If he comes out, the Midianites will steal all his food. And the Angel of the Lord says, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
Really? Valiant warrior? Hiding in a wine press? Apparently, Gideon was seeing the physical reality he was living in and was unaware of the “invisible world” around him. The invisible world is God’s reality. It made perfect sense for him to hide and protect himself and his family. What he was unaware of was that God was about to set him loose against the enemies of God and God would make it perfectly clear to this doubter (and everyone else) that it would be God and not Gideon delivering Israel from it’s enemies.
But, still. God called him a mighty warrior. This makes me smile. God puts the fight in him and uses his availability and willingness.
I really identify with Gideon’s feelings and his desire to hide. As the world started getting a little crazier several years ago, I felt like hiding. I didn’t like how scared it made me feel. I didn’t like it at all. But, then I reflected on the ways God has set me free from fears in the past……
Once upon a time, when I was a newly wed, I was struggling with an intense fear of flying.
#1. I had never flown as an adult.
#2. I know that God doesn’t want me to live in fear.
#3. However, I WAS NOT flying. Not now. Never. Nada.
I never went on missions trips, because it would need to involve me flying. I knew that God did not want this terror to reign over my life. It was such a great battle in me. I KNEW the freedom of God and I KNEW that God wanted every part of my life submitted to him. BUT, THERE WAS NO WAY I was getting on a plane. Ever.
I knew God loved me, but was not pleased with this part of my life that I was holding back from him. I knew if I gave up this fear to him, it would ultimately mean that I would need to walk onto a plane someday that intended to fly into the air with me in it. I knew that I couldn’t just “claim” victory over my fear, if I was unwilling to step onto a plane. I knew all the statistics that flying is so much safer than driving. But, somehow, I just felt more in control when driving. My husband assured me that was an illusion. It didn’t matter, though.
But, here I found my 23 year old self, laying on the floor of my kitchen on my face, grabbing onto a table leg for dear life, because I was about to die. Not die in a plane, die to self. Taking up our cross does not mean always living in our weaknesses. It means dying to self and letting the resurrection power of Jesus raise us from death to life.
God doesn’t want us to live in fear, and most often that means facing your fear and taking it on in courage. That means dismantling it’s power by the name of Jesus Christ.
My husband and mother-in-law prayed with me on the night that I willed over my fear of flying. I gave it up to Jesus and renounced my claims to that fear in his mighty name. I commanded it to leave my life, in Jesus name. Afterwards, my husband told me he saw a picture of me while we prayed, all decked out in armor from head to toe. He told me, “Briana, God sees you as a mighty warrior, but mighty warriors can’t live in fear.”
How silly of me. Holding onto my table leg and holding onto my fear for dear life. See, fear is a good friend to many people. It protects the fearful, in their minds. It is a wall and a fortress against what they fear. Most times, it seems completely rational to the fearful to be hiding from what they fear, when to the outside world it seems a bit crazy. The fear is a security blanket or a wall between us and the world and it keeps us hiding from the freedom Christ has for us.
Flying in a plane seems like a big fear to face and it is and it was. However, over the past decade and a half, God has liberated me from many, many more fears that seemed very rational to me. Truly, once God has conquered an enemy in our lives, we gain confidence. Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is in our savior. It is that reminder that our Lord Jesus Christ truly does set the captives free and takes the child of God who is hiding in fear and clothes him or her with his armor to fight the battles that will come along in this life.
So, currently we live in a dangerous world and the fears we may play through in our minds don’t seem all that irrational any more. Mainstream news stations are running headlines that used to be located on the so called “tin foil hat” websites. But, is this a reason to hide in our wine presses? No. As we will see in future blogs I write, or if you just read the rest of Judges 6 and beyond, God wants to fill his mighty warriors with a calling and a confidence in his power that we come out of hiding and do his work in spite of the fearful things that are happening in the world.
See, the Midianites wanted the Israelites in hiding. When they hid, it was SO much easier to ransack their farms, steal their cattle and take their crops. Satan wants us to be afraid. He wants Christians to pull back from the world, which is where God has settled us to work for the harvest. Satan is stealing the harvest of God as more and more workers pull away from fear.
The land that Midian was terrorizing was God’s land. The people were his people. God is ready to raise up Gideons all over HIS land to do spiritual war against the invisible enemies of God through prayer and through work in his fields. We need to rise to this calling, even if we doubt the call.