On a drive home from Tennessee Saturday, the lovely Robin and I listened to a podcast by Craig Groeschel, part of his "Warrior" series, in which he referenced Gideon's story as that of a typical "Hesitant Warrior." So when I went to my prayer chair that night, I turned to Judges 6, and WOW! God spoke straight to my heart as a pastor....It seemed like the Holy Spirit highlighted (and I subsequently underlined) the three key things the Lord said to Gideon in the winepress, as if he was (and I think he WAS) saying those very same things to me:
"The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." What a gracious greeting for the Lord to give to Gideon, who was threshing wheat in a winepress, for fear of his enemies! And yet he says the same to me, I believe. The Lord is with me. The Lord is with us. Whatever our Enemy throws at us, however he may attack me, the Lord is with me....and by his grace, in that confidence, I am a mighty warrior.
"Go in the strength you have." I need to make this my ministry mantra. I don't always feel strong, and sometimes "I've little strength to call my own," as the hymnwriter says..."But on thy strength, O God, I lean/ And through the blood that makes me clean, Thou art my all in all." Go in the strength you have. Stop focusing on your weaknesses, on your mistakes, on others' fault-finding, and just go in the strength you have.
"I will be with you." I am a fragile, faulty leader. I don't have my act all together. I get discouraged way too easily. And I'm not nearly as good at this pastoring thing as I need to be, as I want to be. But, shoot, God is with me. He is with us. And it doesn't matter how poor or good I am or my church is....it just matters if God shows up. And he does. And he will.
That's what I believe God said, not just to Gideon all those years ago, but to ME just last Saturday night. It was a very welcome word.