Knowing one’s “strengths” is a hot topic in today’s world. According to Gallop, the component of human strength been studied and analyzed for over 60 years. The intention has been to help businessmen and women work from a position of strength, instead of deficiency. Without a doubt, knowing your own personal “strengths” has come of age! But knowing how to find strength when you’re exhausted is a different story.
Equally important, the Word of God also seems to support the premise, indicating that the level of your strength is on God’s mind too. However, the logic and the execution thereof are somewhat counter to what most of us would expect. That is where this story begins.
Scripture is replete with examples God strengthening His people. Time would not allow me to mention every example, but I’d like for us to look at one man who learned the secret of moving in the strength of God. Ironically, he was a highly unlikely candidate, a man by the name of Gideon.
His story begins in the book of Judges chapter six. We find Gideon in the middle of an unexpected encounter with a heavenly visitor. In the story we see four factors at work in Gideon’s life. Factors that I would call, transferable principles. Things that can be applied to our journeys as well. Those factors are 1) Contradictory Conclusions, 2) Faith being Formed 3) Training in Trusting, 4) Supernatural Strength Supplied.
Let’s take a quick look at each one and draw some conclusions. Keep in mind that these factors can often be identified in our own lives, if we only take the time to look.
Have you ever felt as though your walk of faith is being met with one contradiction after another? Maybe the time you’ve figured it out, God pulls the rug out from under you? That is the way Gideon felt. His path to strength began with what most would see as huge contradictions to what he believed. He was filled with what I would call false conclusions.
False conclusions can be deceptive, as well as destructive. We’ve all had them. At times even believed them. They are the product of various experiences on the road of life. Sometimes they’re simply hand-me-down emotions that came from our parents or close acquaintances. Other times, they come from our limited knowledge of situations. Undoubtedly, many of them come from Satan and his attacks upon our life.
The fact is that regardless of the origin, they’ve likely become imbedded in our minds and have now become hindrances that trip us up. If not removed, they often become our “go-to” responses and eventually bleed into our everyday dealings with life. They must be dealt with.
For this reason, God is always working on our paradigms—in other words, the lenses through which we view life. He’s interested in our conclusions, our views, and perceptions. So, the question remains, “how are you doing with your conclusions?” Are they true? False? Can they be trusted?
Keep in mind that your faith will ignite at the point where your false concepts are acknowledged and identified. I call it ground zero, if you will. What contradictory conclusions do you need to address?
Faith Being Formed
The next part of Gideon’s journey to strength has to do with the shaping of his faith. I always find it strange that our faith seems to grow the most when in the crucibles of life. You know, the time when your doubts and fears arise? When things don’t seem to be working out for you. Gideon’s faith grew the most when he was challenged.
Are you there in your life? In that uncomfortable place of challenge? That’s when you will likely be tempted to say, “let’s just wait this out. After all, now is not a good time to move.” Or maybe a thousand other excuses. The truth is, you always have to start where you are. God’s word to Gideon was “Go in the strength you have…. Am I not sending you (Jdg. 6:14 NIV)?” It’s when you go, that you grow.
Your faith will always be strengthened when activated by simple action. So, the question is, “what do I need to do today that is a step of faith for me? Is it write a commitment in my journal? Ask for someone’s help? Or maybe it is as simple as finding a prayer partner.
Remember, God is pleased when you walk by faith (II Cor. 5:7 NIV). Start the journey today.
Trained to Trust
True faith must always be tested. Why you ask? Faith untested, is merely wishful thinking. How will you know that you have it if it’s never used? In the “the faith” chapter (Hebrews 11), we see a pattern that underscores the evidence of faith. That evidence would be corresponding action.
Gideon’s faith was put to the test when God told him, “You have too many men, I can’t deliver Midian into their hands or Israel would boast against me…” Ironically, it was through three demands of action that Gideon’s army was reduced to 300 men. By this time, he didn’t care. He was learning to trust.
Think about the following scenarios: “Peter if you really believe me, then come to me on the water!” “Moses you must lift your staff out over the Red Sea and demonstrate your faith!” “Noah, will you show me you believe and start building the boat?” “Esther, you must demonstrate your faith by confronting the king.” Corresponding action always wins out.
Faith is formed, then tested by seeing if you trust Him enough to act.
It’s not until chapter eight of Judges that we begin to see the real “strength story” materialize. Remember, 92 percent of the army has been dismissed by God Himself. Most warriors would have packed up and gone home, but not Gideon and his 300 men. They came to life and handily routed the Midianites. Ironically though, that was not the end of the story.
In a moment of truth, the writer of Judges describes this small band of 300 as being “exhausted, yet still in pursuit.” In a nutshell, that moment was an exchange of Gideon’s strength for God’s. The moment of “strength supplied.”
Today, does someone need you to stay in the pursuit? At your job, maybe in the home, or possibly at your church—someone needs you in the pursuit. Yes, you’re exhausted, but the battle isn’t over yet. Your faith will strengthen you.
A story from years past exemplifies the point I’m trying to make. It’s a real-life account from pioneer of the faith, Corrie Ten Boom. She has long since gone on to heaven, but the example of her God-given strength lives on. It goes like this…
Corrie Ten Boom and her family were some of the brave Dutch Christians who had the courage to hide Jewish families during World War 2. Almost daily, it was a struggle to conceal families from the German soldiers that relentlessly pursued them.
After months of stress, and the shear danger involved in hiding the families Corrie asked her mother in private, “Mom, how is it that you have such courage all time? Even in the face of death?” As the conversation deepened Corrie continued, “I’m not sure I could ever die for anyone?”
Her mother wisely answered her, “Corrie, don’t let it worry you. Think of it simply as boarding the bus. And guess what? You don’t need your ticket until you are ready to board.” Strength comes when it’s needed most.