Meditations on ‘Focusing Faith’ : 24. God loves wimps
Heb 11:32,33 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;
Perhaps it is a good thing to know when to draw a halt to the examination of individual lives and so the writer moves into summary mode yet what he has to say in the closing verses of this chapter is worthy of examination. “And what more shall I say?” He could say loads more and even with the short list he then gives us, we realise that the Bible is full of faith, indeed it’s ALL about faith – people who interacted with God, who ‘heard’ God and responded positively to Him. That’s what the Bible is all about; it is a testimony of God’s dealings with people and their responding to Him.
But I can’t help looking at these six men and wondering. I mean, look at them. He starts with Gideon. I love Gideon; he is the epitome of low self-esteem (Judg 6). An angel comes to speak with him and starts with that classic, “The Lord is with you mighty man of valour,” (Judg 6:12) and Gideon replies with what in modern language would be summarised as, “You’ve got to be joking! The signs are that God isn’t with us and as for me, I’m a nobody.” And yet, bit by bit Gideon does the stuff and ends up delivering Israel from the hand of Midian. That reminds me that faith can start small.
On one occasion Jesus said to his disciples, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20) Look at that – “Because you have so little faith.” He recognized their starting place, just like Gideon and so often just like you and me, starts with only a tiny bit of faith. In fact, he says, as long as you start with faith, it can be as small as the smallest of the seeds, the mustard seed, and you can end up moving mountains. Awesome!
So you may have been reading these meditations about faith every day and perhaps you think, “Well, it’s all very well for him, he’s obviously a church leader and a Bible teacher, but I’m just a nobody.” Hey, Gideon was a nobody. I’m a nobody. Don’t you remember Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) Nothing! I’m a nobody until I let him do stuff in me, until I listen to him and do the little thing he puts before me, and if I keep on doing the little things they will get to be bigger things until one of these days I’m going to speak and a mountain is going to get out the way! That is faith and it starts small, so us small people had better stick together.
But then he talks about Barak. Barak was a wimp! Deborah the prophetess was the hero of the day, leading the people but she wasn’t a man and fighting was best done by meaty men – except Barak doesn’t seem to be very meaty! She sends for him with a word from God: “She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: `Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” (Judg 4:6,7) There you are Barak, easy as can be. Just turn up with soldiers and I will give the enemy into your hand. What a simple word and if God says something, it is a promise. So what a great promise.
So how does Barak respond? “Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” (v.8) I need someone to hold my hand. Oh come on! Man up Barak, be the man, go and do the stuff. If God is with you, you can’t go wrong. But it’s never that simple is it? We are what we are and Barak was what he was, so Deborah agrees to go with him but says the glory and fame won’t be his, it will be hers. The outcome is that he goes and gets tremendous victory. So OK, someone else gets the glory, does that matter? I like what follows in the next chapter: “On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves– praise the LORD!” (Judg 5:1,2) Did you see that? Deborah AND Barak sang the song of victory. The truth was that the Lord had called Barak. The Lord believed in Barak more than he did in himself and at the end of it, yes, he did lead the army and yes he did have victory and yes he did it alongside Deborah but so what? He did it!!!
You know I’m not going any further today. These two men are enough for the moment. They say God takes little people like you and me and does stuff through us. It’s not all about us, how about great we are; it’s all about Him, about how great and powerful He is. It’s about the Great God who can take little people, people with low self esteem and still do great things through them. Gideon and Barak were a couple of wimps. What made them appear in the halls of fame? They took the grain of mustard seed and went with it even though they thought nothing of themselves, and mountains ended up getting moved. Don’t start with a mountain, start with focusing on the little thing the Lord has put before you – today, today’s activities. Look to Him, listen to Him and approach the affairs of today with Him and look for His blessing and when it comes rejoice in it, and look for a bigger seed tomorrow, you potential mountain-mover you!