My voice was raised. My chin was in the air. I was confident and bold.
“Look,” I ranted to my friend, “I’ll tell her the truth. I’m not scared of her! What she’s asking us to do does not make sense. It’s not working. So I’m not doing it anymore.”
Yet just a few days later, sitting next to the same friend and across from our boss, my voice was quiet. My head was ducked. I was sheepish and shy.
In other words, I was everything Gideon wasn’t in Judges 6. And while my silence might not have mattered much when it came to a small work conflict, it matters much more when it comes to our relationship with God.
So what did Gideon know that we don’t?
Fear God, but not like that
Gideon had a lot on his mind.
The years of peace that came with Deborah’s leadership over the Israelites were long gone. The Israelites had new oppressors now – the Midianites.
The Midianites destroyed the Israelites’ crops, overran their land, and stole everything they could get their hands on.
Everywhere Gideon looked, he saw suffering. He saw despair. And it directly contradicted everything he had been taught about the God of Israel. Frustration and anger and so many emotions weighed on him heavier and heavier each day.
And then it all came out.
It was perfect timing. Gideon was threshing wheat, which was normal, except that he was doing it in a winepress, hiding from the Midianite rulers so that they wouldn’t steal from him. I can imagine him muttering to himself, hot with embarrassment and indignation at being forced to go to these lengths just to feed his family.
And it was at that moment that an angel of God came and had the nerve to tell Gideon that “the Lord is with you” (verse 12).
The Lord was with him? The Lord was with him?!
Gideon couldn’t take it anymore. “Excuse me,” he said, “but if that’s true, then why are we suffering like this? Where are all God’s miracles? My ancestors went on and on about how He brought us up out of Egypt. But now He’s completely abandoned us.”
Wow. Do you ever say something you shouldn’t, or go too far and immediately regret it? Maybe that’s what Gideon felt. Or maybe he was still angry. Steaming, waiting for a rebuke.
But he didn’t get one. Instead, God has a conversation with Gideon. They go back and forth. Gideon asks more questions and God gives more answers. Gideon even asks God for not one, not two, but three signs that what He’s saying will come to pass. And God gives him each and every one.
That is the same God you and I serve.
He is a God who can handle our emotions and our questions and our fears.
He is a God who will go back and forth with us until we understand.
He is a God who will strengthen our faith when we ask Him to.
He is a God who wants us to know Him and to understand Him.
He is a God that we can be brutally honest with.
“I want your faith in Me to grow.”
As we’ll see in the coming chapters, God and Gideon’s conversation didn’t end with a tipped hat and a wave. Gideon didn’t go back to threshing his wheat. He didn’t go back to living the way he’d always lived.
When we ask God questions, He responds with truth. And God’s truth is life-changing.
God’s truth reveals to us that our old way of living won’t fly anymore.
God’s truth teaches us things that we have to share with others.
God’s truth changes the way we see Him and the world around us.
This is a good thing. But it’s also a serious thing. We can’t approach God with our questions haughtily. We can’t come to Him with our minds made up or with an agenda.
We have to come to God with our hearts open, our hands empty, ready to listen to whatever He has to teach us and follow Him wherever He wants us to go.
So yes, it’s time to be brutally honest with God. But that means it’s also time to radically change our lives.
What do you think? When’s the last time you have been brutally honest with God?