What's Holding You Back: Fear
My all-time favorite TV show is MASH. Why MASH? Mostly because it basically raised me. Ok, not really. I have pretty awesome parents. My dad would watch MASH all the time and it became a favorite show of mine even as a small child. I loved growing up with Colonel Potter, Hawkeye, BJ, Trapper, Frank, Charles, Hotlips, The Padre, Henry, Clinger, Rizzo, I know I’m forgetting names, but rest assured, they’re all my favorites.
Anyway, there’s this episode where they’re having a problem with a sniper. It’s in the earlier seasons when Henry Blake is the commanding officer and Frank is still hanging around (Season Two, episode Ten, to be exact). Anyway, everyone has huddled around and afraid because of this sniper. Frank goes missing and after searching, Hawkeye finds him entirely freaked out of his mind. You see, Frank had gone out to take care of the sniper because Margaret had said that what they really needed was a “real man” who would go out there and end the fear. Frank was not as brave as he wanted to be. Hawkeye ends up finding him hiding in some crates. He’s so afraid that he’s shaking. His brave voice sounds like a scared little child. Hawkeye then reminds Frank that everyone gets scared.
Everyone gets scared. Even heroes in the Bible were scared AT LEAST once in their life! In fact, Gideon almost seems to be the king of fear!
Let’s talk about six lessons we can learn from this story.
Read Judges 6:11-35.
Lesson One: The angel of the Lord meets Gideon in a place of fear. Even from the first verse (verse 11), we see Gideon in hiding. He was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide the harvest from the Midianites. What was the angel of the Lord’s greeting? “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” What’s the definition of valor? “Great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.” Gideon almost seems to be the opposite of that definition here. Yet, it probably took a lot of courage to attempt to harvest the wheat knowing that the Midianites could be on his doorstep at any time. The part not to miss is “The Lord is with you.” Gideon might have been in a place of fear. He might have been in hiding as he took care of the wheat. But God noticed him and made sure that the first thing Gideon heard was how God was with him. Even though it looked like God had abandoned him.
Lesson Two: He wasn’t afraid to question God. Ok, he didn't REALIZE exactly who he was talking to, but whether we say it straight to God's face or not, God still hears. Gideon had some really valid questions and beliefs concerning God's apparent abandonment of Israel. The angel of the Lord wasn't put off by Gideon's wrong beliefs, in fact, the angel's message is one that God did care about Israel, God hadn't abandoned Israel, and God did SEE Israel. Also, God was going to use Gideon to deliver Israel. What a scary revelation for a timid man! Sometimes when we're complaining about a problem, we will discover that we're the exact one that God plans to use to find (or be) a solution to that problem.
Lesson Three: Can you imagine being told that you, as one person, would take down an entire army? There's God and His absurd-sounding and impossible plans again! Gideon is quick to point out that while God calls him a mighty man of valor and then says “go in this might of yours” Gideon was weak. He pointed out that he was from the weaker clan and he was the least in his family. God doesn’t always call the biggest and the strongest to big, strong, and scary things.
Lesson Four: Gideon realizes exactly who he was talking to (God). He becomes frightened and God assures him by first wishing him peace and then telling him not to fear. I love how Gideon builds an altar right there to remind himself, in a tangible way, of God’s peace.
Lesson Five: There are so many things to notice in these three verses (Judges 6:25-27)! First, God tells Gideon to take down the altar of Baal and to cut down the Asherah pole. He was asking Gideon to destroy these false idols and the false Gods. Second, then on top of that “stronghold,” on top of the very thing that held back these people from focusing on the one and true God, Gideon was to build an altar to God right there, on the ruins. Third, Gideon was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do what God asked in the day, so he did it at night. Here’s a big thing to notice, though: Despite being afraid, Gideon still obeyed God. Gideon still did what God asked.
Lesson Six: If Baal was living, would he have allowed Gideon to destroy his altar? This is what Joash (his dad) points out when the men of the town wanted to kill Gideon. My ESV study Bible points out that with his name, Jerubbaal, “Gideon became a living reminder of Baal’s powerlessness.” What’s really interesting is that Gideon would go on to continue doing hard and impossible things for God and he would make a name for himself. In fact, people would all know about Gideon. Anyone who knew about Gideon would be reminded of Baal’s powerlessness!
Everyone gets scared. Frank Burns from MASH would never become a man known for bravery. Gideon, on the other hand, would go onto doing brave things out of his obedience and trust in God.
What do you want to be known for? Do you want to be known for being cowardly like ol' Frank Burns from MASH? Or would you want to be known for your obedience and trust in God like Gideon?