Mighty Warriors

Well, our Monday wasn’t quite as Monday as it could have been, because Hubs, in a brilliant display of compassion for others, went to the grocery store at 8:00 last night.  He came home with a carton of half and half, and suddenly our coffee hopes for Monday morning were going to become a reality, instead of a dream.  He and I may live in the Wild West, but neither one of us has ever learned how to drink our coffee like John Wayne would have done, without the benefit of cream and sugar.  Clearly, we are a disappointment to our state.  My best guess is that John Wayne drank his coffee when it was as black as sin, but listen… if mine isn’t a pale beige with a hint of sugary goodness, I have no interest in it.

Of course, Hubs walked around our kitchen this morning like he was Maverick in Top Gun, who’d managed to shoot enemy fighter jets straight out of the sky, because he’d saved the day with some thick milk.  He’s going to have to step aside for me tonight, though, because LOOK WHO WASHED ALL THE SOCKS TODAY!  I’ve saved the day, too, because none of us are going to be strutting around town like the Flintstones tomorrow, with their calloused feet, bare upon the bedrock.  We have clean socks, and it’s all due to me, thank you very much.

Hubs and I both may need counseling, so that we can resolve the issue of who the better person is here.

Anyway.

I read a devotional one day last week, and it has stuck to me like glue at a kindergarten table during centers does.

I’ve had some things come up in my life.  Actually, they’re not so much things, as they are just plain mountainous volcanoes, that are shooting lava straight up and dumping choking heaps of ash all over my head.  Beth Moore always says that when you come to these kinds of mountains, one of a few different scenarios is going to happen.  Either God is going to make you climb that mountain, which is hard, but totally doable… or He’s going to walk you around that mountain, which, let’s face it, is the easiest route… or He’s going to have you tunnel through the mountain, which is going to involve three times the amount of hard work you were planning on… but one way or the other, you’ll get to the other side of that mountain.

Right now, I feel like I have two mountains of Mt. Everest size, sitting side by side right in front of me, and God has given me a little gardening shovel and a flashlight with no batteries in it, and He’s told me, “Start digging.”  So that’s where I’ve been for a few months here… digging.  And it’s not so much digging, as it is me slamming the point of my tiny shovel into the rock and yelling, “This isn’t fair!  This is not what I signed up for!  THIS IS NOT WHAT I ENVISIONED!!  How come THOSE PEOPLE got a straight path without any bumps in it?  Why do I have to be the one with these two enormous road blocks?  Why am I spending all this time DIGGING?  This is just too dang HARD, God!”  And then I’ve thrown in a few “I hate this” phrases, which were shouted loudly, just to let God know that I am quite serious about my feelings.  You know, in case He had no idea how I felt.

So I’ve been digging my way through two different mountains, which is really hard work.  It’s hard enough to dig through just one mountain, but when you have to keep running back and forth between TWO of them, the exhaustion sets in, and you really just want to pitch your tent right there and quit at the closest base camp.  You want to just say, “I quit,” and turn on Netflix.

And then last week, this devotional came along.  It was about Gideon, when he was threshing his wheat in the winepress, because he was scared to death that the Midianites would come along and find him, if he didn’t hide his work.  It said, “The Israelites have been invaded by the Midianites, and are totally oppressed by them.  In the midst of all this is a man named Gideon, who is threshing wheat in a winepress.  Normally, according to my vast and nonexistent wheat-threshing expertise, he’d thresh his wheat out in the open.  But Gideon was afraid of the Midianites and was hiding in a winepress.  So, while Gideon was hiding out, an angel appeared to him and said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’  Oh, how I love an angel who deals in irony.  Mighty warrior?  Gideon is hiding!  He’s threshing his wheat in fear, and yet the angel calls him a mighty warrior.”  (That’s from the devotional called Everyday Holy — Finding a Big God in the Little Moments.)

And that’s the paragraph that I’ve pretty much tossed over in my mind for days now.  I’ve thought about it while I was in PE, throwing foam balls at little kids.  I’ve thought about it while I was wide awake at 3 AM.  I’ve thought about it while I’ve avoided cooking dinner, and encouraged my family to PLEASE ACCEPT THIS OFFERING OF A TAKE-AND-BAKE PIZZA FOR YOUR EVENING MEAL, BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN DEAL WITH ALL THE BUSY THAT THE MONTH OF MAY HAS THROWN AT MY FACE.

God, you see, has the ability to see our pasts and our presents and our futures… ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  So when He called Gideon a Mighty Warrior, He was calling him what he would become, because God had already seen what Gideon would become… because God already knew what he would become.  Gideon didn’t think he was equipped to be a mighty warrior.  In fact, he asked God for a sign that He was telling the truth, and he asked for more than one sign!  As far as Gideon was concerned, he was just going to try to trudge through his existence in oppression by hiding out and threshing wheat, so that the Midianites didn’t find it and destroy it.  Gideon was just focused on providing a little food for his people, but God was focused on Gideon rising up as a mighty warrior and taking out the Midianites with three hundred men on his team.  Was Gideon nervous?  You bet.  Here he’d been, hiding and threshing, when suddenly God spoke through an angel and basically told him, “You’re a mighty warrior now, and you’re going into battle.”  He had three hundred men behind him to fight, while the book of Judges says, “It was impossible to count [the Midianites] or their camels.”  There were just too many of them.  Gideon was bringing three hundred men to a battle against 135,000 soldiers, when he had been nothing but a common man twenty minutes earlier.

But God called Gideon by his future name… Mighty Warrior... in the present.

Let’s just type that again.

God called Gideon BY HIS FUTURE NAME… which was Mighty Warrior… and He did it in the PRESENT.  Because God already knew the future.  God had already seen the future, and He knew the victory Gideon had helped lead the Israelites to, because of his willing obedience to the Lord.

And that made me think… How many times has God said to me, while I’m slowly digging away at my enormous mountains, with my tiny garden shovel, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  First of all, in my all-consuming focus of letting God know exactly how unfair it is, I’ve forgotten that He IS with me.  I’ve forgotten that I am NOT, actually, digging alone.  And second…  Did He just call me a mighty warrior?  And doesn’t being a mighty warrior mean that I’m going to reach the other side of these two mountains, no matter which direction He sends me… WITH VICTORY?!

Even with the unlikely odds of three hundred men to 135,000.

Or with a garden shovel and a flashlight with no batteries.

Apparently, when you’ve been asked by God to dig your way through the tunnels, you can write down, in ink, that it’s going to be long and difficult.  There are going to be broken fingernails, bruises of all kinds, big scrapes, bigger aches and constant pains, cuss words that you regret, tears a-plenty, and nights when you want to quit forever, as you lay down on the ground in a heap of your own pity party, crying your eyeballs straight out.  You’re going to be jealous of the person next to you, who was handed different tools than you were.  Because that girl digging through HER mountain beside you?  Yeah… she got eighteen semi trucks filled with a cargo labeled DYNAMITE.  She also got headlamps that work and those giant lights that road construction crews set up on interstates at night.  You know the ones… they light up the dark like it’s noon, and they all have batteries and backup batteries and generators, too..  She also got a crew of men who are used to manual labor, and who have built tunnels through mountains before, and actually understand how to get it done quickly and efficiently.  She probably also got a food truck, that delivers breakfast burritos every morning, along with hot, BEIGE-COLORED COFFEE, which she sips while she sits on a giant boulder her crew just pulled out of the tunnel.

And that all looks a lot better than your lone gardening shovel and the flashlight that isn’t equipped with working batteries, and the handful of rocky crumbs you just scratched out of the itty bitty hole that you’re supposed to turn into a passageway.  I won’t lie.  It’s hard to take the meager tools the Lord has handed to YOU, while you watch the Lord hand someone else a Craftsman toolbox packed to the brim with equipment and a fleet of trucks, carrying everything else you could ever dream of needing while you work.  It’s hard to remember that God gave the Israelites manna in the desert, which was just enough for their daily needs.  It’s hard to admit that  your daily need is a small shovel, when someone else’s daily need is a thousand pounds of dynamite and a fellow who knows how to run the line for it.

It’s hard to admit that fairness has absolutely nothing to do with our VERY INDIVIDUAL, daily needs.

And that, of course, brings us to WHY God pared Gideon’s army down to three hundred men.  Had Gideon been blessed with an equal amount of fighting men behind him… had Gideon been flanked by 135,000 soldiers as well… he may have taken credit for winning the battle.  Gideon may have said, “I did it!  I conquered those Midianites!”  At the battle’s end, the soldiers would have slapped Gideon on the back, applauded his fantastic leadership skills, and then fought over who would buy their successful captain his first round of a nice aged, stout ale and a loaf of bread smeared thickly with goat’s milk butter.  And where would the people have seen God in all of it?  That’s right.  They wouldn’t have.  There wouldn’t have been a testimony that has lasted for thousands of years on how God fought for His people, using a nervous man named Gideon, who had once hid from his enemies in a winepress while he worked, and three hundred men.

With my gardening shovel and that flashlight that isn’t working, I will have no one else to credit on the other side of these two mountains, except God Himself.

Which is probably exactly what He has intended for me.

And… I can’t lie… I’ve hollered plenty at the Lord lately, “Thanks for leaving me alone on this!”  I’ve told two people in the past month, “God isn’t listening to my prayers right now.”  I honestly didn’t believe that He was; I was, in fact, firmly convinced that He had left me with the instructions to DIG, and then He’d walked away.  I was too busy watching the people next to me, who were using a gas-powered, high-tech tunnel boring machine to rip an opening into their mountain the size of an aircraft carrier, while the rock I was moving fit into a paper Dixie cup, to even think that He might be listening to me, because HOW UNFAIR IS IT THAT THEY’RE USING MODERN-DAY, HOLE-BORING EQUIPMENT FUELED BY GASOLINE, LORD, WHILE I USE THIS HANDHELD SHOVEL THAT’S PRIMARY PURPOSE IS FOR WEEDING FLOWER BEDS?!  But then… because apparently He loves me or something… God answered us in something entirely different this past Friday.

This past Friday, Hubs and I had a decision to make.  It wasn’t a life-changing decision.  It wasn’t a decision that was even all that hard.  It was just a small timeline that we were on, for something COMPLETELY UNRELATED to my mountains, that needed a yes or a no answer ON FRIDAY.  My mom said, “Well, pray about it, and ask God if you should do it or not do it.”

I went home, thinking, “Right.  Ask God, who isn’t listening to me right now.”

But I asked Him, because it’s all I know in life.  When you’ve been raised going to church, you’re raised to keep asking.  So yes… I asked, but I didn’t expect an answer, because I was too busy being envious of someone else’s easy digging while I was doing hard labor, so why would God even CARE TO ANSWER THIS SMALL REQUEST, THAT ISN’T EVEN RELATED TO MY MOUNTAINS?

Except… He did.

On Friday morning, I looked at Hubs over our beige-colored coffee cups and said, “Are we going to spend this money and go for it?  Or not spend this money?”  And Hubs said, “I think we’re going to spend this money.”  And I twitched, because I am not a money spender, and I am not as brave as Hubs is, when it comes to spending money.

Two hours later, God answered in the form of a phone call, as He boldly announced, “And this, Mighty Warrior, is where that money you’re worried about is going to come from!”  I was stunned beyond belief.  I walked around my house on Friday afternoon, exclaiming, “I can’t believe it!  I asked… and there was an answer and a way!”  I told that to God.  I said, “God!  I asked… and You GAVE AN ANSWER AND A WAY!”  I told Hubs later, “We asked… and we got an answer and a means to achieve it!”

I think God did it, because He knew I needed reassuring that He was still there and still listening TO ME, while I keep digging with my simple, outdated tools on my two mountains.  I can no longer say, “But you reassured Gideon with his wet and dry fleeces, and you ignored me!”  Because He didn’t ignore me.

And He has called me a mighty warrior.

And I think He means for me to step out of the tunnel, when I finally break through to the backside of the mountain, into sunlight, while I say, “It was a long, hard-fought battle to dig my way through, but I asked for help, and You sustained me and kept me going; You provided a way through.”

With just a meager shovel and a flashlight that didn’t work.

Because when I stand in the sunlight, I think I’m supposed to yell, “God gave me the most meager tools, so that my testimony would simply say, LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE today.”

And then I’m going to have to REALLY apologize for all the bad words I used while I was laboring to dig.

Happy Monday, y’all.  I hope your husbands are those who love you enough to buy real cream at 8 PM, to insure that your morning goes well.  And I hope that you realize that God already knows you’re a mighty warrior… because He already sees you on the other side of your mountain.  So keep digging, Mighty Warrior; keep digging, even if you’re doing it with your bare hands and looking at me, yelling, “Why does SHE get that little gardening shovel, when I just have my ten fingers and no gloves?!”

If you’ve got breakfast burritos and pale coffee, you can borrow my little shovel for a while.

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