Overcoming fear-induced paralysis, through faith, to step into your potential
For Gideon it was a process too. He didn’t suddenly change from a fearful man to a brave warrior overnight. He had to hear some truth poured into his life first. Not only did God do that, but He did it abundantly. God said that He was with Gideon. He saw Gideon, not just now but He saw what Gideon could be in the future with God’s power behind him. God had a task and a purpose for Gideon; He would make the impossible possible through Gideon. Then after all the truths, God proved He was God.
God also sought to build Gideon’s confidence too. The first task had been relatively small, to tear down the altar. A huge step of faith for Gideon, but a relatively small task. God had been checking Gideon’s willingness to move and listen before He gave the mighty task. God was slowly building Gideon’s trust in Him, growing his faith one step at a time, overcoming Gideon’s insecurities and fears stage by stage.
What happened to Gideon after all that? Gideon chose to overcome his fear by stepping out in faith. He did as the Lord asked and led the people into battle. God knew the people would forget Him as quickly as they had remembered Him, pretending the victory had been theirs alone, accomplished by their might. Consequently, God decided the people needed another proof that He was God, that He was in control. To prove that only He had the power to change their fate and perform such a miracle.
God had to reduce the size of the army. Thirty-two thousand men had turned up to fight following the call of the battle horn but only three hundred men would be taken into battle to defeat the massive army encamped in the valley. God sent home all those who were afraid, and those who lapped at the water when they went to drink, taking only those who were not afraid and who cupped their hands to drink water from the stream. God took less that one per cent of the number Gideon thought would be the minimum number necessary to go into battle.
God knew implicitly that Gideon still had fears, so He sent Gideon into the enemy camp at night to listen. What Gideon overheard was the encouragement he needed to hear. He overheard a man explain a dream where a loaf of bread tumbled down into the Midianite camp and knocked the tents flat. Another man interpreted it saying, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands’ (Judges 7:14 NIV).
Gideon knew they were talking about him, there could be no mistaking what he had overheard. Not only had they mentioned him by name, but they had also mentioned his father and his community. The enemy knew who Gideon was even if he didn’t know it himself. The Lord had it all in hand, and God intended to use Gideon to defeat not only the Midianites but all those who allied themselves with them. He suddenly felt braver hearing those words and thanked the Lord.
He returned to the camp ready. He drew up a strategy. He led the army to the edge of the enemy camp where they all blew their horns, smashed their torches and shouted, “for the Lord and for Gideon” (Judges 7:18 NIV). The enemy, having heard the dream interpretation followed by the Israelite voices bellowing and their horns blaring, ran around in disorganisation, chaos and panic. God caused the Midianites in the camp to become confused and to turn and fight against each other. Those that did not die fled. Gideon sent messengers and groups of men to attack and kill any that fled but also those who had not come to the valley to fight.
The battle was won by the Lord. God’s plan had been carried out by the mighty warrior He had chosen. God’s mighty hero might have been the most unlikely choice; but he was someone who was prepared to listen and carry out the task even when it went against his community, but more significantly, even though it seemed completely impossible for one man.
I cannot pretend the people permanently changed their ways because of Gideon or the events in this story, it was short-lived. The land was at peace for the remainder of Gideon’s life. I also would love to be able to save that the remainder of Gideon’s life reflected the faith and relationship with God which he learned in this story, but simply put Gideon’s life went off track as he allowed pride in. And the people, while thankful for the relief from oppression, soon bowed in worship before something that was not God. Perhaps that is a story for another day!
However, Gideon’s story reminds us that if God has a plan, He will bring it into fruition, no matter how impossible it may appear to us. It reminds us that He sees our potential and our future.
God has been faithful in the past and will continue to be faithful in the future, therefore I can trust in Him. The dare then, is are you willing to step out in faith into what He has called you to? Are you ready to be challenged in every way possible? Are you willing to step into the potential God sees for you, to be the mighty warrior He sees? And are you ready to see God move powerfully to achieve His plan?