Overcoming fear-induced paralysis, through faith, to step into your potential
Gideon is an interesting character, one no book on overcoming would be complete without; he is someone I continue to learn from. His story is found in the book of Judges; he was one of the twelve judges. We open the chapter with, “Again the Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight” (Judges 6:1 NLT). That is not a good place to be, but one we often find the people of God in.
God had brought the people out of Egypt and into the promised land some years before, but it was not flowing with milk and honey any more. The land had become overrun with Midianites. God allowed them to move in. They depleted the land to nothing, stole the cattle, destroyed or took the crops. They reduced the people of God to a minimum of existences, hiding out in caves starving to death. These people are described as being like swarms of locusts, impossible to count, invading and ravaging the land.
Eventually, they cried out to the Lord for help.
An angel, or the Lord, appeared to Gideon while he was in the bottom of a winepress. This pit was the location he had chosen to separate the wheat grains from the husks and stalks. Normally people would do this on the hillside, using the wind to blow away the superfluous parts. Gideon, however, was hiding. He was concealing himself and the food in an unlikely place.
The angel said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12 NIV).
Let’s just pause there a moment. How many mighty warriors or heroes do you know? Or rather, how many of warriors hang out in a winepress to thresh wheat? How many heroes carry out their everyday tasks in complete secrecy?
Gideon was a mere farmer. He was not a brave man at all. He threshed wheat where no one would think to look. He was afraid the enemy would come and attack him. So, why would God call Gideon a mighty hero? He wasn’t doing anything heroic, in fact, you might say he was being cowardly. Gideon, like the rest of the Israelite people, had become paralysed by fear. They were unable and unwilling to take a risk and retake their own land. Instead, they allowed the enemy to overrun them and take all that they had been given by God.
God chose to look beyond these actions, and instead saw Gideon’s potential. Even when he was hiding, even when he was afraid, even when everything looked lost for the Israelites, God still saw what Gideon could be. God saw beyond Gideon’s fear and saw a man who was being clever with the resources he had. Gideon had carefully chosen a spot out of the enemy’s line of sight. It was a deserted spot. There had been no grapes for some time, the vineyards had long since been stripped bare and reduced to dust, and the winepresses had remained empty. Gideon, however, was carefully ensuring his family’s survival by farming in an unlikely place.
Gideon had so many questions for the messenger in response to being called a mighty warrior, but none of them were, ‘What can I do for the Lord?’ Instead he asked why God was letting all this happen to the Israelites, where the miracles of old were, and why God had abandoned the people.
Gideon asked the questions we all ask at times. His mind whirled through all that he had seen and all that he knew, processing as he went along and coming to seemingly logical conclusions. Why is bad stuff happening? God, why are you letting this happen to me? Why now? What have I done to deserve all this? God, why haven’t you stopped it already? Why aren’t you altering my circumstances, right here, right now? Is it because you’ve left me here all alone? Have you abandoned me forever?