"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Only 300 men

I have only 300 men. This was my thought this morning as I woke to a full day ahead and an upcoming trip I am not prepared for. I have only 300 men today, Lord.

In Judges 7, we read of God purposefully dwindling down Gideon's strong army to only 300 men. Early in the book of Judges, God finds Gideon hiding away and doing his task with his head down. God approaches Gideon in this hiding place and calls him to fight the Midianites... and the Midianites were a force to be reckoned with. Then, a bit later in the story, God dwindles the army Gideon has raised from 30, 000 men to 300 men on purpose. Intentionally God takes away Gideon's army. Really, Lord? And, to add interest to the story, God clearly tells Gideon what He is doing and why, "In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her." (Judges 7)

Today I have only 300 men, Lord.

I have learned so adeptly through my life how to do what needs to be done, accomplish the many tasks, bolster my heart and mind and survive... quite successfully. In my heart, at least, I have boasted in this strength.

And, God has been dwindling down my army for years. Slowly, God has been chipping away at my successful discipline, my organizing and plan-making, my energy, my solutions and my strategies, ...even chipping heartily away at my good looks and my charm (written with a smirk). The 30,000 "men" that I gathered around me through my early days as a Christian (lets just say the first 10 years of faith) were a blessing for those years. God does use large armies at times. But, these last 10 years, he has been whittling away at those armies.

The message to my heart of late has been one of surrender and reliance on Him. These past years, He has been ushering me into a new relationship of sorts with Him. He wants me to not trust in horses and chariots, blessings and strength... He wants me to trust in Him alone. No Stephanie-strength allowed.

Time and time again these days I find myself standing against the enemy, without or within, and saying to the Lord, as Jehoshaphat said in 2 Chron. 20, "Will you not judge them? For I have no power to face this vast army that is attacking me. I do not know what to do, but my eyes are upon you".

And, God's response to me, time and time again has been, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's!" (2 Chron. 20:15).

I am tired today. My energy is low. I have failed again in areas sin. I am disorganized and my to-do list is a long. I haven't had much time to process deeply these last few weeks and I feel a bit in a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. I am headed into an intense time of ministry... and I am feeling weak and ill-equipped. ...I only have 300 men, Lord. Like Gideon, I would like to just put my head down, do my "tasks" and get things ordered in my life and hide out from the enemy... without and within.

But, like Gideon, God calls out to me, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior"(Judges 6) Me? Me, Lord... mighty warrior?? When God calls him a mighty warrior, Gideon quickly explains to God that his clan is the least and that he is the least of those in his clan. Me, too, Gideon!! Me, too.

But, Our Father seems to like to call the weak... just a quick perusal of Scripture will show that as true. Our Father seems to like to call the foolish, the childish and the sinners. He likes to confound the wise with His strength shining forth through the weak of this world.

I am most definitely one of those weak ones. I am a jar of clay, broken and full of holes. But, I guess the jars with the most holes shine forth more light, for today I have only 300 men.

"But this happened that I might not rely on myself but on God, who raises the dead" (2 Corinthians 1)

"I cant. He can. I think I'll let Him." ~J. Coles
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