Between a Rock and a Winepress

11:00 AMHeather

This is your forewarning and disclaimer, bloggy friends.  Today's post is not so much my original thoughts as it my attempt to put my own megaphone to the heart healing truth I heard from Priscilla Shirer's second video from her Gideon study.  So, Priscilla--all credit to you.  If I remembered  how to do that bibliography thingy from high school and college, I'd put the formal citation here and link to you.  No matter--thanks for being the vessel of the words from the Holy Spirit.

(As if Priscilla Shirer ever read my blog...)

Anyhoo. Gideon.  When I hear that name, I think of a warrior.  A soldier taking his little army into battle.  I have visions of grandeur, but also somehow remember something about him putting out his fleece to have the Lord make it damp in order to confirm the call to fight.   Not once. But twice.  The first time was asking God to make the fleece damp to confirm the call.  Then, just to be sure, he asked God to make it dry the second day.

I like Gideon.  I can relate to someone who chats with an angel, gets a word from the Lord, and then still needs God's confirmation.  

Anyone have a fleece I can borrow?

But, as always, Priscilla Shirer pulls out the tiniest of details in her studies that become HUGE life lessons.  So, yesterday, the video lesson was about when Gideon was first called to be a mighty warrior.  Somehow, I pictured he'd always been a mighy warrior?  

Apparently not.  In fact, Gideon was a big old chicken.  Timid.  Meek.  Worn out.  Afraid.  Intimidated.  Almost as if he was human like me.  As the video lesson pointed out, we can assume these less than ideal characteristics from Gideon because of where that angel found him in the first place.

Between a rock and a wine press.  

Gideon was in the throes of a rather mundane, boring task--doing nothing special or noteworthy.  He was threshing wheat.  Yawn.  Rather similar to loads of laundry, piles of dishes, bill paying, kid caring, house work, cooking type labor.  Nothing to see here.  Just going about my daily BORING tasks.  Again.  Yee-haw.

And not only was he doing this tedious threshing, but he was doing it in the most inconvenient of places.  In a wine press.  Which means that rather than beating out the wheat for the wind to carry off the chaff, Gideon was in a covered, cave like place.  A place perfect for pressing grapes.  Not so ideal for threshing wheat.  No wind.  Making the task even more tedious.  

So why was he there?  The reason was because he had known nothing but the harvest grubbing ways of the enemy Midianites.   Who year after year came and took the harvest of the Israelites.  Ravishing them.  Making them oppressed and hungry and impoverished.  Year after year, these circumstances came against Gideon and his people.  Year after year, like clock work, they could count on the Midianites devouring the fruit of their hard work.  And the Israelites were "laid low" (Judges 6:6).

Ya think?  Love Biblical understatements.  Kinda like the statement of Jesus being "hungry" after his forty day fast.  Yes, indeed.  Laid low. 

Which is why Gideon cowered.  In a dark, cave like wine press.  Doing hard and boring work.  Made harder because of how oppressed he felt.  Can I get an a-men from any tired mama or Christ follower who is entrenched in the mundane tasks of life and just plain feeling under the weight of it all?

I don't know about you guys, but I can so relate.  In the wine press indeed.  

But guess what?  Good news for my fellow rock and wine press sufferers.  

God found him even there.  God met Gideon there, in those less than ideal circumstances when Gideon was surely crying out and feeling abandoned by the God his people served.  God's goodness?  I don't think Gideon was so much feeling it.  Because all year long, they worked hard.  And yet, still, they were laid low by the enemy's attack.  Can't fault him if he was thinking, "okay, God.  Where are you? Have you forgotten us?"  

In fact, in Judges 6:13, that's pretty much what he says.  "If God is for us, then why has all this happened to us?  Why has the Lord abandoned us?"

I feel you Gideon.  Sad but true.  

Here's the most incredible part of this little segment of Gideon's story.  The angel of the Lord came to that wine press and met Gideon RIGHT where he was.  With a strong word that would mean more than Gideon could fathom.
 
        “The Lord is with you, O mighty warrior.”
                                  Judges 6:12 

Listen, this isn't because Gideon had some former track record.  Quite the opposite.  Gideon at this point is a just a wine press hiding, wheat threshing Israelite feeling abandoned and lonely and perhaps slightly ticked off at God.

But God met him there.  Between a rock and a wine press.  And God declared what He knew not only could be but WOULD be true for Gideon.  With the Lord right there in those circumstances, Gideon would discover the great and mighty calling God had for him.  

Oh, how encouraged I am.  How I love that!  God is a God who takes the weak, scared, worn out, bruised and battered ones who even question His faithfulness.  And He meets us there.  In an instant, He can call us out and equip us and use us.  For big things.  Of Biblical proportions.  

He doesn't just use West Point grads with impeccable combat records to defeat the hugest of enemies and turn the tide of a war.  Nope.  He meets the one with the quaking legs and questioning heart.  It's where He shows off best.  Against the canvas of every day people doing every day things.  THERE, His greatness is seen. 

Here I am, Lord!  In the wine press.  Threshing the wheat as I raise these kids and keep this house and try to hold it altogether.  And yes, questions and doubts are plaguing me.  Meet me here.  Make this hard place the starting point of your glorious next chapter.  

And bear with me if I need to throw out my fleece a time or two when you call.     

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