I think there’s a common misconception about following God (or “doing the right thing” in common parlance): it’s easy and the bleachers are full of supporters. Nothing could be further from the truth. The path of faith, ethics, and change is lonely.
And what’s most surprising is who is not in the bleachers when you take your first step.
In the story of Gideon, hard on the heels of his inspirational interview with an angel of God, he was instructed to tear down the altar of worship to a false God (Baal). The one of which his own family was assigned the role of caretaker on behalf of their village.
That meant embarrassing Dad. That meant stirring up the anger of the whole town. That meant difficulty. That meant taking the first step alone. So Gideon made two critical decisions:
- first, he decided to obey God. The angel told him to take the first step toward realizing his full role as “mighty warrior” that very night. There was no time allowed for consideration. No time to meditate, no time to take a poll of wise elders, no time to consider life markers, no time to check with the family to see how everyone felt about being “most hated” in their community the next day.
- second, he decided to do his work at night. Why? Because he was afraid. It’s been said that courage is the assessment that something is more important than fear. Gideon showed courage but he also showed a little fear. And that is something you and I can relate to.
Day two of Gideon’s obedience dawns, the deed is done, and the town is ticked off. They show up ready to kill him. Then something amazing happens: the Father Gideon has placed in a most awkward situation stepped out to defend his son’s actions…
“If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar!”
Makes sense. The town people thought so too. And so Gideon got a cool nickname: Jerub-Baal, or “Baal Fighter”. In our day is would be something like “Idol Smasher”.
This first step of obedience is not unusual in the Bible. Those God calls often have to take the first steps alone and in the face of family disagreement. Those closest to you are not always God’s advisors. Be careful.
As Oswald Chambers also once suggested, when God gives us an assignment, the worst thing we can do is consult with another person. Moses would agree. So would Noah and Daniel. And so would Jesus, who not only modeled obedience over family, but redefined true family by obedience (Matthew 10:37-39, Matthew 8:21-22, Matthew 12:46-50).
Very difficult. But it changes the world.
Guys like Phinehas (Numbers 25:1-13) are special because only one thing matters to them – God. And while others are consulting or politicking, folks like Phinehas act decisively. And a nation is saved.
This story tends to gain everyone’s attention because of a couple of nights when Baal Fighter laid out the fleece looking for confirmation. But Gideon didn’t do that because he was deciding whether or not to be obedient. He did it because he’d already started.
Have you started… to obey? Or are you still laying out fleeces?