In this article we will look at the examples of biblical characters who walked with God, and learn from them the keys to overcome self doubt and take the leap of faith since God used them as examples for us to follow. This is the third installment of the Self Doubt And The Leap Of Faith series
In the Bible, God had risen heroes to deliver his chosen people, the Israelites (Now we call the Jews), from their enemies and the sinful way of living that caused the enemies to arise at the first place. Many times, the chosen ones were surprised by the calling from God, and would consider themselves unworthy of the call.
Most of them were afraid, why me? Of all people in Israel, why me?
One of such heroes was Gideon.
14And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. Judges 6: 14-16
The Midian was nomadic people. They were numerous. And they, along with their alliances, the Amalekites and people from the east, were bullying Israel. Every time the Israel had sown, they came to destroy the produces and farm animals, leaving them with nothing.
Basically, the Midian and the foreigners roamed the land of Israel freely and camped anywhere they wanted for however long they wanted. The Israelites had to hide in the mountains.
When God spoke to Gideon and invited him to be the next deliverer for Israel, he was hiding from the Midian.
Gideon questioned the Lord about the call at first, reasoning to the Lord that he was the least in his poor family so he probably couldn’t handle the mission.
But the Lord thought differently, he called Gideon “mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12)
Many times, how we see ourselves deviate greatly from how God see us. He is our creator so He know what we are fit to do, and He know the best timing for everything.
Arguing with the Lord about what He think of us isn’t humble. It’s an insult to the Lord’s wisdom, thinking we know better than the Lord. Have you ever argued with God when you sensed that He was calling you to do something?
Gideon didn’t argue with the Lord after He promised Gideon that He will be with him in his mission; He only asked for signs from God to prove that it was really God who was speaking to him. Then the Lord showed him that by miraculously consuming a meal prepared for Him by Gideon. (Judges 6:17-22)
Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
After this, the Lord asked Gideon to do one thing – to demolish the altar of Baal, an idol that the Israel worshiped at the time, and then build a new altar for God, and offer a burnt sacrifice there using the demolished idol as fuel – it was a dangerous mission because the Israelites will kill him for doing that, but he went straight to do it, albeit at night, for fear of the Israelites.
Perhaps God intervened behind the scene, Gideon’s dad said one sentence to the angry folks who demanded his son the next morning, and the mob disbanded. (Judges 6:32)
It doesn’t sound like a comfortable thing for Gideon to do, does it? When God ask you to do something, it’s always doable. He will give you the grace to do it, and take care of the consequences, but often times His instructions are uncomfortable to carry out.
This is a feel good generation. We like to do things that pleases ourselves and avoid things that make us feel uncomfortable. For Gideon and many other heroes of faith, they eventually mastered the skill of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. We will do well if we obey God just like them, and learn to master this skill as well.
My dad is a Tao priest who offers funeral ceremonial services. He is still doing that today. 10 years ago he forced me to shadow him in one of his services, and it tested my faithfulness to God as I felt I had to refuse it. But I was afraid of man more than I afraid of God, and I compromised. To learn more about my story and how I suffered a sense of shame because of my compromise, click here.
Several months ago, my grandmother died. She passed away without Christ, which was unfortunate, but I knew it was a second chance from God for me to show my faithfulness to Him. This time I stood my ground and refused to participate in any idol related ceremony.
As a result, God has blessed me with a good reputation among my relatives because they saw me stood my ground during the funeral, and my dad was willing to make accommodation for my faith during whole process. Throughout the funeral, people kept saying loud, “He is a Christian so he doesn’t do that”, and because of that everyone knew I was Christian.
Is It God’s Will?
Gideon was a very careful man, after destroying the altar of Baal, he asked for confirmations from the Lord whether it was God’s will to use him to fight the enemies and deliver Israel.
Make senses, because the Lord hadn’t asked him to take any specific action against the enemies yet, so Gideon was right that he chose to ask God specifically about whether it was His specific will that they should attack the enemies at the time, and whether it was him who should do it.
36And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
So Gideon led the men he gathered and went to the battle field.
Have you regularly sought God’s specific will for your life? Sure you can hear His voice. If we surrender all our excuses to God, we will find that we can indeed hear His voice pretty clearly, the Bible says,
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27);
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”(Isaiah 30:21);
If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (John 7:17)
God has unique plans for everyone. The plans may sound impossible at first, and that we are weak and fragile, but if we obey His prompting, and take the leap of faith every time the next step is shroud with uncertainties, we can expect great things to unfold at the right split of second.
God will engineer our circumstances in such a way that when we obey, people, heaven, and earth will cooperate with our actions, whether they are willing or do it out of evil intentions, or by accident or coincident, and the outcomes of our obedience will in turn trigger a chain of events that lead to multiple ripples that bless many.
A servant of God should do nothing on his own, but to trust and obey God. Many people either refuse to listen to God’s call because of self doubts, or they take matters into their own hands and fight without seeking God’s will. For the former, the result is God’s judgment and punishment (Matthew 25:14-30), and the latter is vain conceit and missing out on God’s perfect plan.
Win Till You (Almost) Drop
Win till you drop, sounds nice isn’t it? As you grow in faith and the skill of obedience, you will win, win, and win. Based on my own experience, the Lord grant me more and more responsibilities, honor, and success as long as I keep obeying Him, until I can’t handle the it anymore, emotionally, and physically.
It might come to a point where you will feel exhausted. The Lord will stretch your faith and obedience to the max. Stretching you makes you grow.
4 Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it…
[Skipping a few lines of how Gideon went through the whole nine yards in his pursue]…
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and fell upon the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.
Long story short, Gideon and his 300 men (Yes, they started with 300 only, and ended with 300 in its entirety, but the enemies lost 120,000+ men in this battle) had been beating up their enemies all the way through and they were exhausted by all the one way killings and pursing.
For your information, Gideon wasn’t the only one who won till he almost dropped. There were Moses, who became sick and tired of performing miracles for the losers for 40 years; Joshua, who had fought more than a hundred battles in his lifetime, having only lost once due to someone’s stupidity, and when I read his biography I got bored by the long winded record of places he had conquered; Sampson, the strongest man on earth in his time, almost thirsted to death after killing 1000 men by himself with a donkey’s jawbone. And there were more than I can tell you in one article.
If you want to be a champion who in this life, who is counted by God for eternity, and if you want your success to last, then you should practice obedience and faith all your life.
What Is Grace?
Grace is the desire and the power that God gives us to do His will. Bill Gothard
9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
When God ask you to do something, He will give you the grace to do it. His grace is always fresh, which also means that you have to rely on His grace daily.
You can count on His grace for today, but tomorrow is a new day and you will have to ask for it again. God do this because he want you to rely on Him. He can’t afford to give you too much that you can wander on your own for too long. We humans are too forgetful and too easy to take pride in ourselves.
Because of His grace, we can bypass our weaknesses and still accomplish what He want us to accomplish, no matter how against all odds it seems.
In my final year of University, God prompted me to run for the vice president position of the student union. I was inexperienced with student activities in the Campus. I didn’t know the big fishes in student politics. I didn’t know what left and right meant politically. And I spoke broken English since I was an immigrant from Hong Kong for only 7 years at the time.
I faced candidates who were in the know, who were influential, who saw me as a nobody, and the media in campus was eager to cast a negative light on me because of my Chinese origin and lack of experience. I was against all odds.
But I prayed hard and followed God, I’d ran from class to class on my own, delivering self-introduction and pitch without script. There were many times when I mis-pronounced my website, allforstudents.org as allforstudents.orgies, the girls looked at me with a weird look. When I someone finally corrected me for that, I was very embarrassed.
My opponents ran for the election in a ticket. They were resourceful and they followed a script. Miraculously, every time my fellow Christians prayed for me, the audiences would applaud, whistle, and screamed, it had happened quite a few times, but I don’t recall any other candidates who had that kind of receptions.
At the end, I won the election. And later it would lead to God using me to deliver some students Christian organizations out of mild troubles.
God’s Grace Is Sufficient
16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
As humans, we will frequently feel the weights of our weaknesses. If we are honest to ourselves, we know we are clumsy and many things aren’t under our control. This is okay, however, because God God will lead us step by step. And whatever He ask us to do, He enable us to carry it out.
We are to cry out to God, approach His throne of grace, and receive from Him mercy and grace, frequently.
It goes against our human nature, which loves to be self-reliant and tends to place trust on humans and things rather than God, so don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to asking God for grace daily. We have to train continuously to put our nature under the control of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:17; Zechariah 4:6)
Focus, focus, and focus! This is very simple, yet very difficult. All you need to do is obey, seeking God’s will, and do it.
And make sure you stick it out!
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