The LORD looked at Gideon and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel from the Midianites. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
Like many individuals named in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11), Gideon was not actively listening for God’s call. In fact, by the time Gideon received his call to serve, he had already given up on any hope for divine intervention. No doubt the last thing Gideon ever expected to hear was, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Jdg. 6:12). Ironically—and even humorously—when Gideon heard those words he was sheepishly cowering inside a secret winepress to prevent his hard-earned grains from being stolen by the marauding Midianites. Instead of following the usual practice of threshing his wheat in the open air where the chaff could be blown away, Gideon was hiding inside a rocky crevice. Understandably, Gideon’s first response was to say, in effect, “Um, Lord, I think you’ve got the wrong number…”
Like Gideon, we often question our competence to answer God’s call to serve. We fixate on our circumstances— “If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us?” (Jdg. 6:13a). We feel overwhelmed by the obstacles in our way— “The LORD has forgotten us and given us into the hand of Midian” (Jdg. 6:13b). We doubt our background and qualifications— “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s family” (Jdg. 6:15).
Yet what the Lord impressed upon Gideon was the reassuring and empowering message that He provides all the competence we need to do what He has called us to do. God does not call us to serve without also equipping us for the task at hand. “We are not competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves; our competence comes from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).
When faced with situations that challenge our conviction that God is faithful, He says, “Go in the strength you have” (Jdg. 6:14a). God promises to give us what we need, when we need it. However limited and frail we may feel, God tells us to rely on the Holy Spirit. When we are smothering under the weight of the burdens we carry and when we cannot see any way forward, He says, “Am I not sending you?” (Jdg. 6:14b). Because of Christ Jesus, we know God does not ask us to go where He has not already gone—even when the way leads to the cross. When we suspect our skills and experiences are not sufficient, He says, “I will be with you…” (Jdg. 6:16a). Even when we pass through fiery trials and even when we pass through engulfing floods of sorrow, the promise of God’s presence stands (Is. 43:1-2).
May the Spirit teach us to lean more and more on the competence God provides.