Gideon: a stop-the-job? Or a bit OCD? Or just plain awkward?
36 Then Gideon said to God, “You say that you have decided to use me to rescue Israel. 37 Well, I am putting some wool on the ground where we thresh the wheat. If in the morning there is dew only on the wool but not on the ground, then I will know that you are going to use me to rescue Israel.” 38 That is exactly what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the wool and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don't be angry with me; let me speak just once more. Please let me make one more test with the wool. This time let the wool be dry, and the ground be wet.” 40 That night God did that very thing. The next morning the wool was dry, but the ground was wet with dew.
You’re looking for someone to take a lead and inspire a whole nation to rediscover their trust in God. A bit of personality wouldn’t go amiss. A charismatic wordsmith would be good - with the courage to let God call the shots.
What you land up with is a wee guy who continually seems to question God and to test him and who, to be blunt, is not exactly enthusiastic in his response to God. “Politely trying” would be a good way to put it.
An angel comes to our unlikely hero and says, “God is with you”. Gideon says, “Pardon me but...” and basically says to the angel, you must be joking! “If God is with me, why am I and all his people living in fear?” he asks.
The angel breaks sweat but keeps going and tries again. “God has chosen you to turn around the fortunes of your people…” and again, Gideon politely interrupts the angel with another “Pardon me but...” “Pardon me but I’m from the weakest tribe of a Israel” Gideon says, “and I’m on the bottom rung of that family ladder....”
It might have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall when the angel reported back to God – “he seems, Lord, a bit negative...”
Before the angel of the Lord can say anything more to him Gideon puts his hand up. “Wait here,” he tells God’s angel, “till I get something to offer you” and off the bold man goes to do some killing, cooking and sauce-making with no particular sense of hurry. God is happy however with the result and the conversation, at last, continues.
Only for Gideon to interrupt again.
This time Gideon wants God to pass a couple of tests – the first is to make the ground around a sheepskin left out overnight, frosty but not the sheepskin and the next night Gideon wants the opposite to happen. He wants the ground to be dry and the sheepskin wet!
It is only after all that, that Gideon begins to do what God wants. Old habits however, die hard and all the way through his story, Gideon continues to poke sticks in the wheels of God’s ideas, slowing things down before agreeing to do what God wants to do through him.
And yet God used Gideon to bring his people back to him.
You called me, so you have to put up with my foibles -
I can’t help being slow to commit,
It’s just the way I am – the way you made me.
I need to get my head round things and only then can I act.
But thank you.
Thank you for being so patient and understanding.
Thank you for waiting for me and for answering all my questions.
Above all thank you for using even me
To do mighty things.
If you can work with me Lord God,
you can work with anyone.
Bless you. Amen