We find Israel facing a similar situation in Judges chapter six. Neighboring Midianites have been oppressing the Israelite people for seven years. Things have become desperate. Families have fled their homes for the relative safety of mountain caves and dens. Every year, as soon as crops have been planted, Midianite armies invade with the intention of destroying every bit of sustenance being grown. The Israelites have been reduced to almost nothing - devoid of hope, full of fear and despair.
In the midst of this, we meet Gideon, a young Israelite who is threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress. What a strange sight this would have been! Threshing wheat is one of the most labor-intensive processes outside of the modern machinery used today. The ultimate goal is to separate the edible wheat kernels from the straw and chaff. Traditionally, this was done in wide-open spaces, probably on a day when a gentle breeze was blowing, allowing the heavier wheat kernels to fall to the ground as the chaff blew away.
Imagine doing that in an enclosed area.
Gideon is right there, in the middle of his mess, hiding from his circumstances, when an angel of the Lord appears and addresses him, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judg. 6:12b).
Whoa. Read that again: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Do you think Gideon felt like a mighty warrior as he cowered in the shadows, afraid for his life? I doubt it. God has this incredible way of speaking our identities into our lives before we can see that identity in the mirror.
When I look in the mirror, I see a woman who struggles with mental illness, doesn’t pray “enough”, hasn’t been to a physical church in three years, and who picks fights with her husband. But God tells me that’s not who I am in Him. He calls me a daughter of the King, beloved, forgiven, and perfect in His sight.
It doesn’t really matter what you are hiding from today. What matters is that you remind yourself who God says you are. You are a daughter of the King, forgiven, worthy, loved, a masterpiece, chosen, significant, and gifted. Place intentional reminders around you so that you can see the truth when you feel like hiding. Make a list of your true identity on a post-it note and put it on your mirror or steering wheel, make a wallpaper for your phone, or set a reminder on your phone at a certain time every day. Step out of hiding, my friend, and embrace who God says you are.
Memory Verse: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
That silence resulted in a forever-malformed toe. But to be honest, its brokenness has made no huge impact on my life, other than an occasional uncomfortable shoe-fitting.
What about the broken things in my life that aren’t quite so easy to ignore?
What about the broken relationships, broken promises, and broken hearts?
I’m encouraged by several stories of brokenness in the book of Acts. Throughout the book, we see the Church born and launched to impact the world. We hold our breath as thousands receive the Holy Spirit for the first time, and cheer when Saul realizes his new identity in Christ as Paul the apostle. We cringe as Stephen is stoned for his faith, while secretly wishing our faith was as strong as his, without the high cost. We cheer when Peter and John visit the beggar at the Beautiful Gate and take time to really see him - as more than an inconvenience.
Over the span of a few verses, a man who had been lame from birth has his brokenness healed. A few chapters later, Peter is traveling the country when he finds a man, Aeneas, who has been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. I’m willing to bet that neither the lame beggar nor Aeneas believed they would ever feel the weight of their bodies supported by their own two feet.
But God had another plan for both of their lives. A plan that included full healing of brokenness that seemed impossible to fix.
Do you find yourself accepting your brokenness? Some brokenness is physical, other times it is emotional. All of us experience spiritual brokenness, and God sent His son Jesus to heal that brokenness. It’s possible that God has chosen to have you wait for full healing until heaven. But, friend, take heart! It’s never too late for God to choose to heal something in your life that you never thought would heal.
Broken things become whole in the hands of our God.
What are the broken things in your life that need the touch of the Savior? They may be small and seemingly insignificant, like my middle toe. Remember that nothing is too small, or too big, for God.
Neither of the men in Acts were actively pursuing healing, but God chose to heal them anyway. How much more does He want to heal those who come to Him and ask?
Don’t wait. Ask God to redeem the brokenness in your life. He is willing and able to restore you to wholeness in Himself.
Memory Verse: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NIV
We don’t want to be held accountable for something we didn’t know about, but we tend to hold our loved ones accountable all the time. We get the steps backward. We expect obedience before giving instruction, and listening before trust.
God doesn’t function that way. He gives us clear instructions, but the ball is in our court whether we listen to and obey those instructions.
It’s mind-boggling to me how much grace and patience God has with us, and has had with His people throughout history. During the time of the Kings in ancient Israel, we read about king after king after king who did evil in the sight of the Lord. Not only did the kings do evil, but they led God’s people to do evil as well. Yet God continued to love and instruct them along the way.
In 2 Kings 17, God exiled Israel to Assyria. Make no mistake - this was no spontaneous temper tantrum of a response from God (the way mine was over the dirty stove). 2 Kings 17: 7, 14 explain, "All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God...they would not listen...They did not trust in the Lord their God." The Israelites didn't trust in God; therefore, they would not listen to Him which resulted in disobedience and ultimately their exile.
Do you find yourself frustrated by a repeated sin in your life?
Try applying the principles from 2 Kings. First, trust in God. What does that look like practically? For me, trusting in God means refusing to fall into the trap of making plans and creating solutions for every “maybe” that pops up in my life. It means leaning into the vision that He has given me for my life and our family, and repeating the promises He has made when my faith falls short. Trusting in God even means that when life doesn’t look the way I expected it to look, I still thank God for His sovereignty.
Second, listen to His Word. In order to listen to His Word, you have to be exposing yourself to it. Maybe that means joining a Rooted Moms small group and reading through the Bible with them. Maybe it means listening to the Bible in audio format while folding the laundry or loading the dishwasher. It might mean listening to a podcast or sermon in the car on the way to work, or doing a Bible study with your church family.
When you’ve trusted and listened, obedience will follow.
Do you trust God?
Are you fully trusting that His plan for your life is better than your plans?
Have you been listening to who God says you are in Him?
Do you listen to the fact that you have the power to obey God?
I’m grateful that God doesn’t expect us to obey Him without first trusting Him and then listening to His Word. Take some time this week to truly listen to what God is saying about you and to you, and let that deepen your trust in Him to a level you’ve never experienced.
Memory Verse: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 17:7 NIV
I wonder how many times the Israelites asked themselves that very type of question. How in the world did we end up here? This desert wasteland is a far cry from the Egyptian cities our families have lived in for generations. Building this tabernacle for our God is a far cry from being forced to make bricks in the hot sun for our Egyptian oppressors.
Are the location pins on the map of my life really all that disconnected?
Or am I right where God intended for me to be, fully equipped for what He is asking of me at this moment?
When we read through Exodus chapters 26-36, we watch as God’s vision for the Tabernacle and the roles of His people emerge. Yards and yards of beautiful curtains are woven by skilled workers. Tons of wood are cut, crafted, chiseled, and honed into support frameworks and exquisite altars. Dozens of tools and pieces are hammered from bronze and gold.
Have you ever wondered where all of that talent came from?
God. He used the Israelites’ time under oppression to build the skills they would need in the future.
God equips His people with exactly the gifts needed to bring glory and honor to Himself.
In chapters 35 and 36, we watch as the whole Israelite community is invited to bring an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting. In just nine short verses, the phrase those “who were willing” is repeated four times. Why does that matter? I think scripture is reminding us that God has gifted and equipped us all, but that we must be willing to use those gifts and resources. He doesn’t force us, but He gives us the choice of keeping the gifts for ourselves or giving them back to Him.
On really hard days, I wonder what my life would look like if my family had not said “yes” when God asked us to move to another country. I wouldn’t wake up each morning to breathtaking sunrises over the water. I probably would have fewer bug bites than I do right now. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have made the relationships I have here - relationships that give me the opportunity to share Jesus with people who may have never heard His name outside of the context of a swear word.
Could God still have used me even if we had said, “no”?
Yes, I believe so.
However, He can use me so much more when I have a willing heart.
God has equipped you with gifts, skills, and talents that can be used to bring glory to Himself. Do you know what they are? If not, take some time to learn your spiritual gifts. Take a spiritual gifts assessment or talk with a mentor about it. If you are aware of how He has equipped you, are you currently using them for Him? Or only for yourself?
Spend some time in prayer this week asking God to show you where He is calling you to serve Him.
Memory Verse: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV
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