Judges 6:1-32 (Part 4) – That Dream…Job…Is Getting Here As Fast As It Can

Posted: August 21, 2017 in 07-Judges

Judges 6:1-32 (Part 4 of 5)
Gideon Becomes Israel’s Judge

After a dry spell since late January of this year since I have had a job interview toward my goal of going into ministry full time, I had two initial job interviews over the weekend. One was a phone interview for an executive pastor’s position for a large Methodist church in Charlotte, NC and one for another executive pastor’s position for a large Baptist church in Columbus, GA that was a “one-way video” interview. The latter interview was a new one on me. I had never heard of one-way video interviews before. In that situation, you sign on to this video interview service, they present you preformatted questions and then you have to record your video response to the question posed and you have a specified length of time that the video answer can be. Strange but I can see how it is an effective candidate review tool. Like I said, these interviews ended a long, dry spell without any interviews at all.

Even with that one, ministry interviews have been few and far between since graduation back in May 2014. But that one in January was close. We (I say we because in ministry your wife is an integral part of your ministry) almost had that job. It came down to me and one other guy, I believe. After a weekend of interviews, we thought we had it. All the interviews went well. We were in sync with the vision of the church. We got along really nicely with the senior pastor and his staff. It just seemed we were a good fit. Although it would have meant relocating to north central Ohio (eight hours drive from where we live now close to family and friends), we were ready to launch. We were ready to go. We mentally already had our bags packed (even though we had just moved into our new home here in Lyman just two months previous). We were already talking about the community up there and how we both seemed ready to love it. We were “all-in”, as the saying goes for Clemson Tiger football fans. We were ready to move to that next phase of God’s calling on our lives to go into full-time ministry. As the old song, Leaving on a Jet Plane, said, “My bags are packed. I’m ready to go!” We have heard God’s call on our lives to be in full-time ministry and we are ready. That failure to get the job in Ohio was a crushing blow.

We were right there. We could smell the job. I was already thinking about how to take on the job. It was an administrative pastor’s position and I was already thinking about what a thrill it would be to serve the Lord in this way. But the failure to get the job and scarcity of job interviews made me realize that it may be quite some time before we would be this close again. That was the heartbreaking part. It boiled down to an answer to one question about whether I would be happy in the position given that I had teaching aspirations as I had said earlier in the weekend. I thought I had answered the question well enough to quell their concerns. But the thing, the one thing, that took me off the table with them was that they did not feel like it was a “destination job” for me. They felt I would be there only a couple of years and move on. Wow! I asked the senior pastor, “if you are not hiring people that somewhere down the road other people are going to want, are you really hiring the right people!” I don’t remember now what his answer was. However, like I said we were one question away from that job. One answer to one question. We were both heartbroken that I did not get the job offer. And I knew it might be a good while before I got another job interview…and I was right. That was the heartbreaking thing to me. It only takes one job offer and then you’re done, you’re in, it’s time to get about the work of the Lord. But getting in has been the issue. It was not so much that I lost the opportunity in Ohio but it was that I knew that it would be a while before another interview would come along. And typically the job interview process for executive pastor positions are a multi-step, multi-level process that can take over a month and a half to complete and you can get knocked out of the running at any one of those steps.

In the last seven months since the last job interview, that scarcity had begun to make me question my calling. Why would God pick me to go into ministry? Why? I have been in the finance/internal audit/accounting world in the secular domain for 33 years now. Was it all just a pipe dream that I made up in my mind? Did God really call me? Why would he call someone that still has so many flaws? Why was I so stupid to think that God had called me? I cried out to God for answers and no answers came. I finally came to the realization that God is in control of this thing. Yes, He did call me to ministry. I know that. It is because of the fact that it would be easier not to. It is because of the fact that it sounds crazy and far-fetched for a man with a long career in the secular world to be called to ministry. It is because it will be hard. It is because that even after all this time since I felt called to the ministry, the calling is still there, that I believe the calling is real. It is not mine to understand why God is taking this amount of time. I must trust that He is working out a plan both in me and for the place that I will land in ministry. He is working on my flaws and on my pride and on my need to be more dependent on Him.

And He is working out the details of that church, a new one or an established one, where I will land right now wherever that may be. In a famous line from the show, How I Met Your Mother, Stella tells Ted that his soulmate that he will marry “is getting here as fast as she can!”, meaning that God is working out that plan of life for the woman that Ted would meet and marry right now as they spoke. It has not come to fruition yet, but Ted’s “dream girl” was working through the decisions of life and destinations of life that would bring them together. I must trust the same idea. God is working out the details. My dream church is getting here as fast as she can. I must trust that God is working out the details to bring us together – my dream church and me. The almost of Ohio was part of the plan to see if I could deal with heartbreak in ministry. The almost of Ohio was just that she was not right dream church at the right time for me according to God. The almost of Ohio was to make me appreciate it so much more when I meet the dream church that God has for me. It may be that the dream church and dream position that is getting to me as fast as it can is right where I am at. Maybe, God is working it out right now for somewhere next year, the year after, that the dream church with the dream job will be LifeSong itself. It may be somewhere else. It may be even starting something completely new. But God will make it abundantly clear when I meet my dream church that she and I were destined to meet. Of that I am certain.

In the meantime, I plow the field in front of me with happiness and joy because I know that my season in my current function at LifeSong is not over yet. There are still things that have to be worked out. There are still things to be learned. There is deepened trust in God’s plan for my and my wife’s ministry that must be worked out. I must trust that the calling is real and that God is getting it together out there somewhere as fast as He can, according to His eternal timetable not mine. Meanwhile, I cannot let the doubts of Satan make me give up before I even start.

Today, as we look again at Judges 6:1-32, we are reminded how we tend to give up before we even get started with God’s calling on our lives. I so see myself in Gideon in this passage. Gideon does the same thing here v.14-16. Let’s read the entire passage once more with an eye toward that thought. Here is the passage now:

6 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[e] bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal[f] that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

In this passage, we see that God promised to give Gideon the strength that he needed to overcome the opposition, and God told him, “I will be with you!” In spite of this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses. Seeing on 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 the strength we need, we often make excuses. Reminding God of our limitations only implies that we have a lack of trust in him and that He does not already know what our weaknesses and flaws are. We are implying that God made a mistake when He chose us for the calling that He has laid upon us. We are implying that He made a mistake in evaluating us and calling us to the task. God doesn’t call us to a task without knowing deeply what makes us tick, what our weaknesses are, and so on. If He is the God of the universe, Creator of all things, then we should be about His business and rely on Him to make our path forward for us.

What is that God is calling you to do that seems crazy? What is that He is calling you to do that He seems to be taking His sweet time in making happen? Are you questioning God’s calling on your life? Are you afraid to do anything about the calling on your life? Are you afraid to step out in faith?

How big is your God? If He is big enough to create the universe, He is big enough to make your path through the darkness clear. If you have followed God’s call and it seems that He is taking forever to bring it to fruition? Who is God? You or Him? Like Gideon, we tend to make ourselves the judge of whether we can do what calls us to. Like me, we tend to think that God should do things on our timetable when we do accept His call. Who is God, Mark? God or you? The answer is obvious. We must trust in the Lord and follow His call. AND we must trust in the Lord about the timing of what He has in store for us! We must trust that intersection of God’s call and our passion for that call is coming up as fast as God wants it to. Trust in the Lord not in ourselves. Trust that God will enable us to do what He calls us to do. Trust in the Lord to bring about the circumstances, people, time, place that will be that soulmate job, that dream job, that He has called you to do.

Amen and Amen.

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