Story originally appeared in October 22, 2006 issue of Vista.
“Lord, this is craziness,” Gideon muttered in prayer from the floor of a shallow, stone pit. “I can’t believe that I’m forced to thresh wheat on the floor of a winepress! And for what cause? The Midianites might steal our harvest if they find out we have one. Why can’t you just wipe them out?” He raised his threshing sledge into the air and pounded a loosened wheat sheave for emphasis.
A sudden burst of light caught Gideon’s attention and he looked up from the sheaves. Gazing down at him was a man with blazing, brilliant eyes that exuded a joy which Gideon know he’d never personally experienced.
“The Lord is with you, you mighty hero!”
Gideon slowly stood, staring at the figure who seemed to have an iridescent glint that emanated from his very core. At first, Gideon was unsure of how to respond. Then the words of the strange greeting registered.
“The Lord is with me,” Gideon repeated incredulously. “If the Lord is with me, or anybody in this nation for that matter, then why has the Lord allowed the enemy to kill so many of us? And why has the Lord allowed our enemy to steal our livelihood and destroy so much of our land? It feels more like God and all the world are against us!”
“Don’t you realize that I have given you the power and the authority to trample the enemy and overcome all of his wickedness? I will use you to help your people get the victory over the enemy because I have chosen you.”
Gideon gaped, stunned by the words of the stranger. Then he asked, “But how? I’m not rich; I have no notoriety. I’m not even very smart.”
“I promise you, I will equip you. When you go to fight this battle, I’ll be closer to you than any of your family or friends. Just call out to me. I am more than able.”
Gideon blinked, shaking his head in utter amazement.
“I promise,” the figure grinned, which made him even more vivid. But there was something deeper.
Is it possible to emit love? Gideon wondered, then he finally spoke again. “Could you please stay here for just another moment? I…I just need a confirmation from you. You know, just so I can know that I haven’t lost my mind from threshing too much wheat. Um…I…I want to bring you an offering. Will you wait?”
“Sure,” the figure chuckled as he helped Gideon out of the pit.
Gideon turned, walked a few steps and looked over his shoulder. The figure had seated himself under a nearby oak tree, and in a rich baritone voice began singing a song that Gideon had never heard before: “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”
Gideon spun around, ran to his house, and hurriedly prepared an offering of young goat meat, unleavened bread, and broth. Once everything was ready, he made his way back to the oak tree. His stomach plummeted to his feet when he saw that the figure wasn’t just a figment of his imagination. Then a sense of peace washed over him.
Well, at least I know I haven’t gone crazy.
The figure grinned and pushed himself to standing with his staff. “I see the mighty warrior has returned.”
Gideon chuckled to himself at the very sound of the words.
“Set it on that rock,” the figure pointed, then added, “Smells good. Go ahead and pour the broth over it.”
As Gideon poured, it felt as though lightening surged through him. He stepped back as the figure pointed his staff at the offering. The rock on which it sat began to vibrate, glowing brilliant white as smoke swirled and billowed into the azure sky. A blaze erupted from the rock and consumed the offering as the figure disappeared.
Gideon fell to his knees and cried out, “Please God, have mercy on me! I’ve seen your angel!”
An immediate peace coursed through him as he heard the Lord’s voice reply, “Be at peace. You shall live and be victorious.”
An overwhelming joy flooded Gideon’s soul as he was hit with the reality that God hadn’t forgotten him or his people. It suddenly struck him that God wanted to give them peace, hope and most especially, a future. The problem was wrong focus. Everywhere he looked it seemed people were either undermining God’s ways, or worse, worshiping something other than the One True God. Joy gave way to indignation as he uttered, “But Lord, what can I do?”
An uncanny boldness rose up in him as an idea floated into his mind.
Restore a right focus! Restructure my priorities, Lord. And Yahweh, bring an army who will join me to reach this nation!