I was reading from Judges this morning at some ridiculously scary hour (ahem, it was about 5:20am). My coffee had already been tucked into my “Mississippi: the Magnolia State” mug and oatmeal was heating and blending together in warm delight with a dash of cinnamon I sprinkled into the bowl. I started this particular morning in Chapter 6 of the book, subtitled simply Gideon. I intended to read a chapter and move over into the New Testament where I am currently reading through the gospel of Luke. Yet, Gideon’s story pulled me in and I read on.
In Hebrew, Gideon translates as “mighty warrior” and in Judges 6-8, the angel of the Lord calls him exactly that. Moreover, God Himself calls Gideon to be the one to free people of Israel and pull them away from their continual worship of idols. Leading to this point, God had brought peace for 40 years with Deborah, but eventually “again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord” and He gave them to battle their oppressors themselves. Sound familiar? The Old Testament drips of stories that repeat the same concept: God’s people find Him, forget Him, and turn away from Him. God has to call someone to help Him bring His people out of darkness.
This is all important because Gideon’s response it just about the most focal pints of our typical human condition:
“If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” (Judges 6: 17-18)
Gideon prepares meat and unleavened bread and upon fire and consumption, Gideon knew the Lord was with Him. Gideon’s faith is demonstrated in his construction of “The Lord is Peace” (an altar for God) and the simultaneous destruction of Baals’ alter, representing idol worship. Furthermore, Judges tells us the spirit of God fills Gideon and he calls followers to rise up against the defiling of God.
Yet, even in this level of empowerment, Gideon still needs that much anticipated sign.
“Gideon said to God,
If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised – look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.
And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew – a bowlful of water.” (Judges 6: 36-38)
Glued to this story, I could completely relate. God shows up, we are filled with goodness, we need a reminder, and sadly in the end, we return back to what God came to remove in the first place. More than this, what I take away from Gideon’s story and experience is that GOD GETS IT.
We hold firm in our faith, but in need of spiritual water, God does surround us with the “signs” that Gideon asks for, and the signs, whether we ask for them or not, we would like to see.
The question is, then, are your eyes actually open to see them?
In speaking with one of my best friends recently, she stated, “I know God has a plan but sometimes it would be just be nice to know it’s going to all be okay. A breadcrumb of certainty, or something.”
She currently is teaching in Virginia and in just a few short days will head to Rwanda to have the first part of her wedding, in hopes of being able to eventually her fiancee and resettle in the United States. Certainly, the girl has a lot on her mind and just needs to know that it’s all going to be okay.
I smiled and gasped for an extra breathe of air. I was on the elliptical machine (yes, I’m that annoying girl often on the phone while at the gym) and remarked that our “breadcrumbs” of knowing that the future is going to be okay is what God has actually already been given. It’s what he’s completed, what he’s finished, what He said He would do and then did.
A sign for Gideon, a breadcrumb, so to speak, would be when I was in a pitch black room alone, in the presence of pure evil, and spared.
It’s been when I was fearful to try something new, and now, looking back I can see the fruits of what He so brilliantly sowed. If there had been no divorce, there would have been no new family members. If there had not been the experiences of my parents, grandparents, and other tribulations of my family, I couldn’t have learned what I did.
When I was scared, and felt like I was jumping off a 20 foot diving board and moving away – to other states or countries – I always found a home in the people that God brought along and seemingly “dropped into my life.”
It’s been in seconds of life flashing before me and being saved. On motorcycles, in cars, in cities, and in illness. From kidneys, to colds, to illnesses that attacked when I was alone with no power in my village, God was there. And every single time, in an element of fear, God responded.
His signs are seen when we understand why we are where we are. And when. Timing is no accident.
It’s conversations of transparency and confession in my small little Honda, on a Friday night, until nearly 1:00 am with a new friend. It’s the prayer the follows after.
It’s in death, in shame, in heartbreak, and in despair that eventually becomes maturity, triumph, wisdom, and humility. The process of growth proves that God leaves no stone unturned – if we are open to letting it be so.
It’s His people who make it so nothing can ever be the same in our lives again. Ever.
You find your breadcrumbs in your past, your story, your testimony. You will see it in the stories of others too; bearing witness to the weaving handicrafts of God. Step back, look around, really look. The people around you are there for a reason. Engage them. Find out their trials, joys, and passions. It’s very likely there will be something that draws you in. Inevitably, you will learn.
There’s also no greater sign than in His word itself.
God followed through. In prophecy to redemption, to Jesus, to wrath. God is not simply a God of the New Testament; God IS God – the Great I Am – and like our stories reveal signs of sustained love and presence, so does His.
I’ve been reading it, picking up what feels like pounds of breadcrumbs and it’s so clear to me that God is on our side and that we must keep moving forward. Walking with Him. He will bring us where we need to be. If you look closely, there are signs all around that prove it.