It’s 5:00 am and I’m DOG tired! I’m in no way used to getting up at zero-dark-thirty (Navy term there :)), but it’s what I felt compelled to do. Having experienced the things God has been showing me, I wanted to make that commitment to Him…to be near Him…to crave Him like a junkie craves his next fix (sorry…I’m a cop, remember? Can’t help where I get my references :)). The house is asleep, and it’s still dark outside. I get to have some alone time (which seems to be in short supply these days) with my Father! After washing the sleep from my eyes and brushing my teeth, I grab my bible and sit on the couch in the living room. I close my eyes (remarkably I don’t have the urge to go back to sleep :D) and begin to pray. I can’t tell you exactly what that prayer was, but I can tell you that it was different from what my prayers have been. Remember my last entry…pray from the heart and in earnest. I also can’t tell you how I got to the verse that was given to me when I was finished, but I can tell you that it was another confirmation that I was on the right track with where God is taking my life. It was Judges 6:9-24, the story of Gideon delivering Israel from Midian.
As I read the verses, for the first time I might add, I wondered what God was showing me. Gideon was a farmer, the weakest man in his family in the weakest tribe in the land. His people were enslaved to the Midianites after being delivered from Egypt by God. They became oppressed and worshiped the gods of the Amorites when they were told not to place any god before Him. And Gideon asked the angel why God had forsaken them (how many times have we done that in our lives?). The angel then told Gideon to go with the strength he had and rescue Israel. Gideon wasn’t quite feeling that idea. He questioned the angel as to how someone so small and weak could accomplish such a task. The angel told Gideon that he was with him and that Gideon would “destroy the Midianites as if (he) were fighting against one man.” Now here the old Bill Cosby routine about Noah and the ark comes to mind…I imagined that Gideon kinda said to himself, “RRRiiiiiggggghhhhhtt. You’re an angel and you’re going to help me slay my enemies???” But the angel was firm with Gideon and eventually proved to him that he was who he said he was. Instead of feeling blessed, however, Gideon became deathly afraid. “Oh, Sovereign Lord, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face,” he cried out. God then told Gideon that it was alright, and he wouldn’t die. There, under a great tree, Gideon built an altar to the Lord and named it “Yahweh-Shalom”…the Lord is Peace.” Amen!!!
So God can use anyone for His will and to spread His word? Even a backsliding, divorced and remarried sinner like me? Like a backsliding, divorced and remarried sinner like my wife? Even a guy I locked up for committing several burglaries because he was hooked on pain pills who found God while he was incarcerated and became a hope for some of his cell-mates? Yeah…if He can use the weakest man of the weakest tribe to overcome an entire army, He can use us, too.
After reading the verse, I began to read the study guide (here’s a tip for you…read everything in the pages of your bible, not just the verses. You’ll miss a TON of valuable information.). Holyghostbumps!!!
“Gideon questioned God about the problems he and his nation faced and about God’s apparent lack of help. What he didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey and neglect God. How easy it is to overlook personal accountability and blame our problems on God and others. Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve our problems. It brings us no closer to God, and it escorts us to the very edge of rebellion and backsliding. When problems come, the first place to look is within. Our immediate response should be confession to God of sins that may have created our problems.”
Wow! How many of us have done that in the past? I know I certainly have. When I joined the Navy in, ahem…1991, I distinctly remember walking alone on a base in the middle of the night in Italy. I was 19, had just received a “Dear John” letter from my girlfriend in the US, found out that my parents were getting divorced after 23 years and one of my best friends from high school had died on the basketball court of an apparent heart attack (though I didn’t get that all in one day, thank you Jesus!). To top that off, I was in a foreign country for the first time in my life and was scared to death! I remember that the stars were shining incredibly bright through the tears in my eyes as I looked up and cursed God for what he was doing to me. I’ll save my early religious beliefs for another day, but suffice it to say that I believed in God, and at that moment He was being very cruel to me. It wasn’t until later in life, 1999 as a matter of fact, that I realized that He was there all along. That “Footprints” inspirational was sooooo true to me by then. He carried me through all that pain and suffering…actually through a lot more than that…to bring me to where I am today. The next guide I read was no less potent.
“‘I will be with you,’ God told Gideon, and God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses. Seeing only his limitations and weaknesses, he failed to see how God could work through him. Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Although God promises us the tools and strength we need, we often make excuses. But reminding God of our limitations only implies that He does not know all about us or that He has made a mistake in evaluating our character. Don’t spend time making excuses. Instead, spend time doing what God wants.”
So there I was at zero-dark-thirty on my couch reading God’s word. The holy ghost bumps hit me hard. I was being accountable to God and was obeying his will. He, in turn, was blessing me with strength, confidence, faith, love and a host of other blessings in the confirmation of what He wanted me to do with my life. He was using a broken man to spread His word and blessings to others. By now, it was time to get everyone up for work and school. I woke Lena up and told her I wanted to read her something God put on my heart (funny note here…Lena is NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. It usually takes her an eternity to get out of bed.). When I read her the verse and guide and told her how I felt it applied to us, she smiled, agreed wholeheartedly, told me she loved me and that she loved being woken up to God’s word. She got right up after that. Remember, I don’t believe in coincidence :D.
As I thought about the morning and the verse throughout the day, a thought occurred to me. Remember “In the Beginning”? Lena and I were going to have a powerful testimony together. She, too, has been through the fire in her life (I’ll let her tell you her story on her own) and was a broken woman. The two of us are two broken pieces, healed and made whole by our Father. Not only am I accountable to God (first and foremost), but the two of us have to be accountable to each other as well. Each of us living God’s will for our lives will only result in us living God’s will for each other. Praise God!
Day 1: Pray together and from the heart. Don’t pray the cliche!
Day 2: Be accountable (NO EXCUSES!) to God and each other.
Do you or your significant other need an attitude adjustment? Find out how God can take care of that for you in the next installment :D! Be blessed!