The bible is laced with stories about great men and women who did amazing things. But in reality there is nothing great about them. They only got their names included in God’s story because they trusted God. I’m not talking about the type of trusting God that we typically associate ourselves with; these people did radical things.
We see a man building a giant boat in the middle of the plains with no rain in the forecast because God had warned him about an impending flood; a 75 year old man with no children leaving behind his relationships, security, identity, and home so God could make him into a great nation that would bless all families on earth; an 80 year old fugitive returning to his homeland, which happens to be the most powerful empire in the world, to face the king and demand that he release all the slave laborers in his kingdom because ‘God said so’; and a general carrying out a battle plan that consisted of walking around fortified city walls repeatedly and singing so that God would break them down. All of these actions seem ridiculous because they are… and that is precisely the point.
One of the most incredible trust stories is about a guy named Gideon. God’s chosen family had been oppressed by a group of people called the Midianites for many years; these people would often raid the Israelite territory to kill all of their livestock and destroy their produce. So, the people cried out to God and He answered their call with a man named Gideon. Like the others before him, he was not a notable man. In fact he is from “the weakest and least important clan” in his territory. Nonetheless, Gideon put together an army of 32,000 men to fight against the Midianite army. This was a solid army but it in no way compared to the massive army of the Midianites which had 135,000 soldiers. Then something shocking happens: God tells Gideon he gathered too many men and told him to reduce his army to 10,000. He said that if the 32,000 men overthrew Midian they could think they were the ones who accomplished the feat. So Gideon trusts God and sends 22,000 men packing. But then God pushes the trust boundary even further and tells Gideon to simplify again. Ultimately, he ends up with only 300 soldiers.
For the sake of realizing how ridiculous Gideon looks to the people around him, let’s do the math. Midian had 135,000 and Gideon had only 300. This means that every Israelite soldier was outmanned 450-1. This is like the Miami Heat playing 2 toddlers for the NBA championship.
Do any of us really trust God like this? Remember that old song that says, “Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er…oh for grace to trust him more”? I am not sure I have ever really meant those words in a Gideon sense.
As the story goes, God goes before these 300 men and routs the Midian army. It ended up having nothing to do with how battle-ready Gideon or his 300 men were and everything to do with Gideon's trust level with God. The theme is consistent with the rest of scripture: all the notable feats are performed by God Himself through the obedience of His people. We will not see God move in these incredible ways until we return to this type of trust and dependence.
Do we really believe God is capable of doing what He says He would do? Over and over again God opens up my eyes to see that while I say I do, my actions suggest otherwise. The truth is that I tend to trust my own abilities, ideas, ambitions, skills, etc. far more than I trust in God’s power to accomplish His will through me. I am implicated by how I lead my family, how I interact with my neighbors, how I go about my job, how I sin, how I manage my money, how I handle His words, etc. I imagine we all are. Self dependence is the sin that thrives most among us, subtly undermining our journey as we spend our time trying to fix all the symptomatic issues we just can't seem to beat. All the while never realizing that all of our issues flow from our lack of trust.
I would challenge you to pray and mean this prayer: "open up my eyes to see the ways in which I am working to preserve myself". Then prepare for the possibility that your whole world could be shaken by how little you actually trust His direction and provision. Why? I can think of at least 135,000 reasons.