He was an unpromising hero, keeping his head low to avoid unwanted attention and trying to be safe, even while on the inside he re-told the old stories of legacy and glory, miracles and powerful deliverance. He had no intention of stepping out of the familiar, even though the everyday was almost unendurable and fear was in the very air he breathed. Until one day God showed up on his doorstep (or more accurately in his field) and called him “mighty warrior,” as if he were not just a young farmer trying to feed his family. And Gideon scoffed, but there was this thrill of adrenaline and hope, this seed of change that might sprout into something bigger.
See, God knew Gideon better than he knew himself– the way he was wired, what he admired and longed for, what held him back. God knew Gideon because He had put him together. More than that, God knew how Gideon’s particular personality strengths and weaknesses interacted with his environment and shaped his perspectives, knew the exact circumstances it would take to spark change, move him along in his growing process. The Musician-King sang of God’s personal involvement in our shaping, His intimate knowing of who we are and who we are becoming: “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15-16)
In these days after Easter, with each branch sending out new green and flowers springing up in corners everywhere, it seems like anything is possible, a thrill of change in the air that might take us from where we are into something bigger and better. The women I know are cleaning out basement storage totes and upstairs closets, opening windows to air out bedrooms, and sweeping off porches, gathering up the accumulated debris in the yards from the Winter storms. And who knows where we could go from here as the world comes back to life? But the visible clutter is the easy part; on the inside we may be stumbling over piles of debris we think no one can see but us. And The Living One Who Sees Me (Genesis 16:14) knows just what it will take to get rid of the stuff that gets in our way: our reason, our self-sufficiency, our achievements, our to-do lists…..and our self-doubt, our past failures– all the ways we measure ourselves in this world and fall short.
God knows how we are made, what we long for, and who He intends for us to be. God shows up on our doorsteps and calls us by the name He gives us– no matter how crazy it may sound or how unlikely it may appear, as of yet. So Gideon the farmer is called Mighty Warrior, stumbles out of a winepress-turned-threshing-floor, and becomes the leader of a miraculous army that can set his people free, because God goes with him. Turns out that having no visible qualifications is just the material God is looking for, to accomplish the impossible.
I know a little boy who loves crawly things with a surprising amount of focus and passion (and entirely undeserved, considering the objects of his affection). One poor creature has made a cocoon despite its less-than-comfortable accommodations. It is in a countdown to transformation, the improbable cocoon a testament to the miracle of rebirth…and the Little One eagerly waits to see what will emerge from the tomb-wrappings. He has more faith than many of us older, who tend to forget that New Life is more than just a season of the year.
Maybe we have grown used to the baggage cluttering up our insides, learned to live crippled because we don’t know how to clean it all out…or maybe we are just afraid of the change and what might come next. Like Gideon, it seems better to keep your head down and stick with what you know (no matter how it presses and chafes) than listen for Someone calling you to a new name that makes no sense and means stepping out into the unknown. The older you get, the more transformation can feel impossible.
But this is the other side of Easter Sunday, and the angels are reminding us “…the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:35, 37), and “He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.” (Matthew 28:6) No one is too old, too broken, too jaded for a resurrection. And a little boy waits beside a cocoon for a new creature to emerge, and the Holy Spirit keeps on blowing this wind of change, calling us to throw open the windows and let Him make us new.
…we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!2 Corinthians 5:16-17, The Message
My future hangs on thisSecond Chances, Rend Collective
You make preciousness from dust
Please don’t stop creating me….
Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart