Judg. 7:2 The LORD said to Gideon, “The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from me, saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’
God wanted to deliver the people, but also wanted them to understand dependence. These were God’s people and over and over again they had failed to be obedient. In their disobedience they failed to recognize the loving God who was trying to reach out and meet their needs.
Gideon is to lead the troops into battle against the Midianites but far too many helpers show up. The number of troops must be whittled down into a very small group who would follow all that God would command them to do. Eventually only 300 are allowed to go into battle. This would be too small a group of people to bring about a victory, but that was the point. It was far too easy for the people to take credit for their own wins. They could explain that God had been with them, but they would also recognize their own strength and ability. This was not complete and total dependence upon God. Being able to take the credit for God’s work would result in a stubborn people, determined to find their own way in the world.
My husband and I each brought to our marriage a family narrative. Those are the stories, which I might call the stories of faith, that are woven into who we are as a people. We were both born into families which have seen the hand of God at work.
Chuck’s favorite Christmas memory is the year in which he got a bicycle and his sister got a watch. He shared this one year in a Sunday School class that his mother was teaching. He was home for Christmas break and she had asked the students to share their favorite Christmas memory. When he finished his version of the story, she shared hers. As a little boy Chuck had no idea that the family had nothing. On Christmas Eve both Chuck and his sister Karen had gone to bed, excited about celebrating Christmas in the morning. His parents, however, were not excited for they had nothing for their two small children. When the little bundles of energy were tucked in bed, the parents went to their knees and prayed, telling God that they had nothing and wished they had some way to celebrate Christmas. Before they went to bed there was a knock at the door. A gentleman from the church arrived with a bag of groceries, a bicycle and a watch. He said that he and his wife had felt the Lord telling them to bring these things to pastor’s home before going to bed. In the bag was food for a Christmas dinner and, of course, the gifts for the children. No one could get credit for that Christmas — but the Lord.
When I was a little girl my mother was diagnosed as a diabetic. At the time we were living in Germany and she was given a very strict diet to follow. This wasn’t always easy for my mother as she was very active in the work and ministry of the church as well as caring for her growing brood of four children. My father was gone for long stretches of time as he was helping to plant churches throughout an area known as the Middle European district. The diet was so strict that my mother was losing a lot of weight — and she didn’t have much to lose. She didn’t have the energy that she needed and was struggling with keeping up. Every morning my mother arose early to spend time with the Lord. One day during her devotions the Lord led her to James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” She felt like the Lord was telling her to ask to be healed. She hadn’t ever asked God to heal her of her diabetes but was challenged that day. At the Lord’s prompting, she prayed and asked for healing and immediately she sensed that something had happened. When my father returned home she simply announced to him that God had healed her and to celebrate they were going to go out for a piece of torte! They did — and a few days later she returned to the doctor for a check-up. He checked her blood work and could find no sign of diabetes. He made her come back regularly for nearly a year and time after time they checked her blood and it was always normal. Finally the doctor said that he couldn’t figure out what happened but — she was not a diabetic! My mother will celebrate her 93rd birthday next week — and she’s still not a diabetic! There is no explanation, and no one can take credit — but God.
My husband and I have been shaped by these stories of God's faithfulness in our lives. They are now part of our story of faith. Our dependence upon God is determined by our willingness to allow God to get the credit. That often means that we have to come to the end of our own resources and trust in the supernatural. God is still in the business of answering prayer and providing. As long as we leave room to get the credit ourselves, we will not live in God’s abundance.
Lord, thank you for the reminder to allow you to take full control in all areas. I don’t need the credit and I want my life to glorify you. Amen.
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