I have been meditating of late on GLIMPSES OF GOD in the Bible -because that is the title of the series of sermons Vanessa our rector has started preaching at St. Mary's.
I have to confess I am rushing ahead and looking at some glimpses that Vanessa hasn't preached on.
This evening I have been thinking about Gideon's glimpse. Wow, I just feel so empowered by this. So, brace yourself
Midianites were troubling Israelites stealing all their crops and livestock. Intimidating them day in day out.
So it was that our hero enters the scene. Where is this hero? Hiding away in a hole, quietly thrashing the wheat he'd managed to gather from the fields and being understandably as inconspicuous as he could be so as not to arouse the interest of Midianites who would then steal what little food he had left. He was not expecting any visitors. God doesn’t always wait for an invitation.
Enter the Lord in the manifestation of "The Angel of the LORD." And He sits down under The Oak Tree. He looks into the hole, speaks to Gideon.
"The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior"
Can't really blame Gideon, he's rather sceptical.
His response is incredulity : Really? If God's with us, how come things are so bad. He is still at this point standing in the winepress.
Gideon's perspective on current affairs of his time was that if God was on the scene things could not be this bad. So he concludes, wrongly of course, that God had forsaken them.
When we cannot see the wood for the trees and everything seems to be going wrong, it would be easy to believe that God has left us.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Ironically, although Gideon did not realise it at that moment, the Lord was right there.
I wonder how Gideon saw himself? I don't think he would have seen as a leader, as a warrior and as brave.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF? Is it positive and uplifting or do you see yourself as a failure.
The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior, Go in strength and save Israel from Midian's hand. Am I not sending you.
Gideon said I'm a nobody. I'm the youngest my family. My clan is the smallest in the tribe. The tribe (it was in face a half-tribe )was the smallest in the land. And Israel was a small nation.
We sometimes think that in order to win against a big foe we have to be bigger but the clue comes in the words
"I will be with you."
I AM is with you. God is with you.
Gideon thought that God had gone but the reverse was true. God was sending Gideon, despite his own perceived weakness to take on the very ones he was hiding from.
I am reminded that God uses these words "The Lord is with you" when he has an important job for people to do.
To Joshua: "As I was with Moses so I will be with you." and Be brave, be bold for the Lord your God is with you. Joshua had to take on Moses's role. (Joshua 1:5)
To Mary, mother of Jesus: Rejoice, highly favoured one. The Lord is with You. Mary would be the Mother to Jesus. (Luke 1:28)
To US: Jesus said, All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you.and I will be with you, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:19-20)
So the big truth to take away from Gideon's glimpse is not something said "once upon a time in a land far away but an eternal truth: God is with us ALWAYS and will never leave us ever.
The second point of this manifestation is that Gideon, like Joshua, Mary, and many others, God has a purpose for Gideon's life. It was not to hide away in a hole, secretly thrashing the wheat. No God was sending Gideon to lead an army to deal with those pesky Midianites.
God has a purpose for each of us. God sees us as brave and successful
Jesus sent His disciples to make more disciples.
He sends us too. He is not only omnipresent like oxygen that hangs in the atmosphere, but God is with us, watching and engaged, even if we like a little baby playing with a toy, totally oblivious of his or her parent who is looking on., but every so often the baby looks up and sees a familiar face smiling back.
A good parent would never abandon his or her baby or entrust the baby into the care of a stranger. God will never abandon us.
The girl or boy who is learning g to ride a bicycle for the first time may be concentrating on the road ahead and not aware that the parent has a hand on the bike to keep it steady and upright.
We might not be aware how God is helping us but He always is.
When we have confidence that God is with us, we can be brave and strong and true and fill the world with love our whole lives through.