I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
he Old Testament account of Gideon tells us of a man with a total lack of confidence in his ability to accomplish the task the Lord sets before him. Gideon does not respond in a heroic way when the angel calls him to lead Israel against the Midianites. He first takes exception to the supernatural greeting by questioning the angel's statement "the Lord is with you."
"...if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" Gideon asks.[i]
It seems that a holy fear of the Creator of the Universe ought to tell us it is best not to say or do the things Gideon proceeds to say and do, but the Lord reads hearts, and Gideon's questions and subsequent comments must have come from a sincere heart. It just really doesn't look to him as though God's presence is with the Israelites, because they have been having such a horrid time. He's polite, but he really wants to know for certain that he is hearing God's voice. Gideon is the least of his clan and is not over-brimming with confidence, but God is very gracious to him. "Go in the strength you have," says the Lord.[ii]
God's first directive to Gideon is that he must throw down the altars of Baal. Matthew Henry's concise commentary says, "It was needful he (Gideon) make peace with God before making war on Midian." If we have issues with God over the ways He has allowed our lives to unfold, we have spiritual work to do before we make war on the sin that has oppressed us.
Throwing down the altars we hold to the world's values needs to come ahead of any effort toward improving exercise and diet habits. In truth, Christians aren't ever to seek self-improvement; we are to seek that God be honored in our physical bodies. We don't endeavor to lose weight for the sake of our appearance, pride, or even health, but so that God may be glorified. The first portion of this freedom journey has been about knocking down altars of pride, unforgiveness, and judgmentalism. It's been about clarifying the answers to some ongoing questions: "If you are with me, Lord, why have these things happened to me?" We need to affirm our trust and hope in the Lord, despite how our circumstances may appear.
Such an affirmation brings tears as we release the Almighty God from accountability to our human perspectives and desires. We affirm that we trust Him despite the way things look to us. We cry because we wanted a happily ever after of our own making, and remember that Jesus also wept.[iii] We have a Savior who empathizes with our grief, but we must move beyond our tears to focus upon what He has done for us. Jesus forged a pathway for us to pass through death rather than become entrapped by it. He bore the grief and sin of the world and took our sins upon Himself, so that we, having died to sin, can live with Him. The suffering of our Savior has purchased eternity for us: everlasting joy in His presence.
We should never leave our prayer time still hindered by sorrow; that's why it is important to stay in His healing presence until we've poured out our hearts, and yes, our tears. We must linger until we have received His healing balm as an exchange for grief, because it is our freedom that attracts others to Christ with a hunger for what we have. Because of what Christ has done, we can leave our tears at the foot of His throne.
Pray: Father, let Your Name be glorified in my life. I know You are with me, I know You have gone before me; please grant me strength. I trust You. I trust that You are in control of all the circumstances of my life, and that Your decisions for me are governed by Your perfect love. I release my circumstances to You. I will follow where You lead, trusting to Your knowledge and not my own.[iv] Amen.
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle…
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 7:17 KJV