I know I ended my last post asking you to stay tuned for Installment #2 of the Beloved Story (if you found yourself asking what Beloved is, you can read Installment #1 here). But before I get to that, I need to take a slight detour...
The past two weeks or so have been spiritually rough to say the least. I've felt alone and out of touch with God. I've been in the Word, I've prayed, I've fasted, I've worshipped, I've wept, but I've felt like God has been silent. I have tried to sit down and hammer out the details for Beloved, but haven't felt any direction or inspiration. I have begged Him for guidance in choosing the board of directors for the ministry, but I'm no further today than I was a month ago. I've been feeling like everything's been at a standstill.
So last night, when a friend asked me how she could pray for me, what followed was a whiny, self-loathing mess of a response... "...While I'm enjoying reading through the bible in a year, I am yearning for in depth reading that is more "applicable" to my life right now. I know that all of God's word is living and breathing in my head and heart, but I'm having a really hard time taking away anything from my daily reading. The old testament is full of good stuff, but I'm just frustrated. How do Joshua's battles have anything to do with me trying to discern who I should ask to be involved with Beloved or where we should go to church? I feel like I need more direct guidance and as though God is just being silent. My husband has encouraged me to do some in depth reading right now, but I'm already behind in my chronological plan, so I feel like any time I have needs to be spent catching up."
It didn't seem that bad when I wrote it. After all, it's how I felt, not what I believed. But then this morning, the Holy Spirit hit me with the story of Gideon.
Now, to be honest, if I wasn't reading through the Bible in a year, I probably would have never turned to Judges for counsel or guidance. But, that's where God had me today, and for that, I'm grateful. I had heard the story of Gideon a few times. When I was trying to decide where to go to college, I remember my elderly neighbor encouraging me to "put out a fleece." Since then, I've heard other Christians use the phrase on a handful of occasions, but I had never sat down and actually read the story of Gideon. It goes a little something like this...
The people of Israel did what was evil in God's sight (again!), and God allowed Midian to oppress them. When they cried out to God for deliverance, the angel of the LORD came to Gideon and told him that he, Gideon, would single-handedly strike down the Midianites. Gideon responded, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me." God, being the patient and merciful God that he is, gave Gideon his sign (a consuming fire springing up from a rock). After seeing the fire, Gideon was pretty much freaked out since he thought he had seen the angel of the LORD face to face. But the LORD said to him "Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die."
Later on (I'm skipping part of the story here for time's sake), Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said."
Okay, Gideon, I thought. You just spoke directly with God. Why do you need another sign?
But God, being the patient and merciful God that He is, gave him his wet fleece.
Surely you'll believe God now, Gideon. Right?
Right after he was wringing out the fleece, he turned around and asked God to do it again.
"Just once more, God. Pretty please?"
And once again, our gracious, merciful God gave him his wet fleece.
At this point in the story, I became angry. Hold up. I thought. I always though putting out a fleece was a sign of faith. Gideon saw God and spoke to him directly. God assured him that he would deliver Israel from the Midianites through Gideon. Why couldn't he just take Him at his word? This isn't a fleece of faith! It's really a fleece of unfaithfulness."
And then I realized...I am Gideon. And the Holy Spirit convicted me of my fleece of unfaithfulness. I have been sitting here, waiting for some sort of "sign" from God. An email. A phone call. A bolt of lightning. Some thing that will give me direction in this ministry.
But what I've failed to embrace is that God has already equipped me through his word...
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." - 1 Timothy 3:16-17
God speaks directly to me through His word. And what's more, his Spirit is alive in me. I don't need a fleece. I need to have faith in the Word of God. And as I came to realize that truth, God, being the patient and merciful God that He is, spoke to me through his Word. And not just through a verse or a short passage, but through five books of the Old Testament and hundreds of years of history.
More on that next time, but for now, I leave you with this...