In the Shadows

12:18 PMHeather

I'm in the middle of a study called Gideon by Priscilla Shirer. This is my third study by Shirer that I've tackled, and I've decided she has a different version of the Bible than I do.  In fact, I'm sure it's a version only she has.  Because she pulls truths and details and applicable principles out that I simply don't see.   Either that or she bends God's ears in ways I've yet to tap into.  

Either way--I am learning a lot from all there is to glean out of the story of Gideon.  You know--the guy who threw out his fleece twice to just double and triple check what God told him to do.  The same one who conquered 135,000 of the enemy Midianites with his teeny tiny army of 300.  

Oh yeah.  Give me some of that.  Conquering big things with my puny resources.

There was something that stood out last week that I just knew I had to pass on to you bloggy friends.  So, once again--all credit to Priscilla Shirer.  Well, to God, of course.  Through Priscilla Shirer.  I'm just the middle man.

Here we go. 
Gideon was met by an angel while he was threshing wheat in the wine press.  I touched on this a few weeks ago.  A wine press is a cave-like place, dark and crowded and quite ill equipped for the task of threshing wheat.  Wheat threshing SHOULD be done in a wide open spot where the wind can carry off the chaff.  And it's a boring, mundane task for any farmer.  Made even harder when you are crouching in the shadows of a dark cave because you fear the enemy.  

You see, for seven years, the Midianites had terrorized the Israelites.  Coming to steal their harvest and to oppress them.  So Gideon--known at the end of this story as a great warrior and leader--actually began as a fearful, trembling boring old farmer, hiding in the wine press.

Oh, but I relate.  Don't you?  This man was beaten down by the shadow of his circumstances as surely as he beat that wheat to glean the harvest from it.  He was a defeated man, hiding in the shadows that his circumstances cast over him. 

So, what about you?  What is casting a shadow over your life today?  Probably not some mean old Midianites, but yet something just as fearful.  Or defeating.  Is it a health crisis?  A failed relationship?  Financial woes?  Old wounds?  Continuing failures?  A huge loss? Whatever it is specifically, I think I know how it feels.  It has stolen your joy.  It steals your hope.  It sucks the energy right outta you and makes you cower in a wine press.  You are going about your day to day, same ole, same ole in the shadows of these circumstances.  You crouch and give in to the fear and discouragement and sense of despair.

Like Gideon.  You are living in your Eeyore moments, all gloomy and doomy.  Victory is as unlikely as an angel showing up to chat with you face to face.

Oh.  But wait.  That actually did happen for Gideon.  And while you may not have an audible conversation with the person of God, you can glean some encouragement from this Biblical story as surely as Gideon sought to glean wheat from chaff.

The angel said, "The Lord God is with you, mighty warrior."  Judges 6:12

To which Gideon replied something like this--Oh yeah?  Well, if God is with us, then why did all this happen?  Why are we hurting and suffering?  What about the miracles God did for others?  Why not for us?  Where is God anyway?

Don't ya love Gideon?  

Don't ya relate to him?

But do you see what happened?  WHAT did Gideon miss?  

He missed who God said he was to be.  He missed who God was calling him to become.  He missed what God was promising to make of him, if he'd only listen.

Gideon missed it because the shadows of his circumstances were dark.  And oppressive.  And he'd lived in those shadows for year after year.  

Don't ya really relate to him?

Here's the thing, bloggy friends.  Here's the nugget that I've been chewing on for days now.  We can get so lost in our shadows that we miss who God says we are.  We want things to change.  We want bigger and better things for our lives.  If you're like me, you're just wrestling with the Lord to figure out what your call is, what your thing is, where you need to be to find that sweet spot in life of being exactly where you were meant to be. You beg and ask and pray for God to change your circumstances.  It might even begin to feel like He doesn't hear you.  You might feel like Gideon.  Oh, really?  God is with me?  Then why did all this happen?

But, you, like Gideon (and like ME), miss the point.  The shadows blind us to it.

God has something to say about who we are.  First things first.  Before our circumstances might change, God wants to change our perspective on who we are.  Because the truth of it is that He has changed our identity.  Already.  Completely.  And that alone changes everything.

You think you are defeated and beaten down and tired and weary.  And it's all just too much.  But God looks at you and calls you, "MIGHTY WARRIOR!"  God wants you to not wrestle with your circumstance but to wrestle with your identity.  To fight it out and realize some big things.

You are not defined by your circumstances.  You may be oppressed by them.  You may be changed by them.  But they do not define you.  They may be casting shadows over you.  But they are not your identity.

You, my dear bloggy friend, need to shine some Son onto yourself to cast off the shadows.  You need to step into the truth of who God says you are, who He's called you to be, how He's changed your identity, how He's equipping you.

This has been an earthquake in my own spiritual walk this week.  To dare to jump out of the shadows, casting the light of His word onto who He says I am.  Instead of staring at the circumstances, to stare into my identity in Christ.  And to grab that life preserver.  Which is putting first things first.  To shift my eyes from my enemy and my sense of defeat to the truths of who God says that I am. And just rest and wallow in those life changing truths.

Listen here.  There's a whole lot there to break through the clouds.  I've started at the beginning myself.  Gone through Genesis.  Looked at who God says I am.  By reading His word.  And that's just book one of 66.  I think there's a lot of Sonshine to come!

Say a prayer for insight here, for truth that would break through your shadows.  For these things to be written on your heart and believed in the deepest part of how you see yourself.  

God says, I am...

--made in His image (Genesis 1:27)
--considered to be a very good creation (Genesis 1:31)
--a suitable helper to my spouse (Genesis 2:18)
--in covenant relationship with Him (Genesis 9:15)
--made to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2)
--under His protection, as He will bless those who bless me and curse those who curse me (Genesis 12:3)
--protected as He is my shield (Genesis 15:1)
--seen by God, right here in my circumstance (Genesis 16:13)
--in everlasting covenant with Him (Genesis 17:7)
--given a new name (Genesis 32:28)
--answered by Him in my distress (Genesis 35:3)
--always accompanied by Him, wherever I go (Genesis 35:3)
--an heir of the Lord (Genesis 35:12)
--rightful owner of the land He chooses to give me (Genesis 35:12)
--under the prosperity He offers (Genesis 39:2)
--recipient of God's kindness and favor (Genesis 39:21)
--able to gain success granted by God when I cling to Him (Genesis 39:23)
--equipped to do the impossible through Him (Genesis 41:16)
--granted access to His revelations (Genesis 41:25)
--able to forget all my troubles because He redeems them (Genesis 41:51)
--able to be fruitful even in the land of my suffering (Genesis 41:52)
--able to see bigger, glorious plans come from my suffering (Genesis 45:7)
--able to be used by God in incredible ways through my suffering (Gen. 45:7)
--joint heir to an everlasting possession (Genesis 48:4)
--shepherded by God (Genesis 48:15)
--delivered from harm by heavenly hosts (Genesis 48:15)
--witness and participant to how God brings good from harmful intentions (Genesis 50:20)
--aided by God (Genesis 50:24-25)

Our shadows tells us we are victims.  We are defeated.  We are weak.  We are ignored.  We are abandoned.  We ask where God is, even when He shows up and says I am here.  We ignore it when He calls us mighty warriors.  Because we cower in the shadows, believing we are defined by them.  We have become them.  We will never come away from them.  Things will never change.  

But, God tells us differently.  We want different circumstances.  But we ignore how God is telling us we are different.  We aren't who we used to be.  Our identity is NOT wrapped up in our past and our wounds or even our present troubles.  No.  We are mighty warriors!  When we chose to follow Him--we were changed.  We are given a new identity.  We are no longer who we were.  And no shadow--no matter how great or big or long lasting--can change that.

So, listen.  Whatever wine press you are hiding in today, from whatever shadow.  Step outside.  Ask God to shine His Son over you.  To write on the walls of your heart and your mind who He says you are.  Ask Him to help your unbelief.  To help you have eyes to see who He says you are.  Through Him.  Because of Him.  Grab hold of those truths and be changed by them.  I've just offered a few to you today.  I've just barely skimmed through one book of the Bible.  There are hundreds more descriptions of who you REALLY are.  Because of whose you are.  

So read up.  Make a list.  Focus on one.  And chew on it.  Meditate on it.  Memorize it.  Be changed by it.

We are not defined by our shadows.  We are wholly changed.  We are transformed.  Let's raise a battle cry of who we are.   Even the face of our shadows.

We, my bloggy friends, no matter your circumstances--we are MIGHTY WARRIORS!

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