I think right now I’m in a season of time where I’m learning that less is more. I need less money, less stuff, less people, less everything than what I have always believed I needed. But it’s a painful lesson. It’s not a lesson I wanted to learn. It’s one of those things that you learn when you are completely fed up with your life in its current state, and you are ready and willing to make radical changes in order to see a different result. It’s a lesson born out of desperation. There’s the old cliche that says, “When Jesus is all you have, you find out Jesus is all you need,” that I’ve always thought was pretty cheesy, but sometimes these things become a cliche because they’re true. You just have to have your life stripped down to bare bones to see it.
A lot of the time we think we need more in order to be successful or to even survive— more money, more friendships, more networking, more hours in the day— but that’s not the case here. It’s after God has found Gideon, hiding in a winepress, feeling like the least of the least, and called him a valiant warrior. Then he tears down the idols that were in the way of spiritual victory. And now, he’s at the place where he’s finally on the cusp of fighting the battle that God called him to fight, and instead of hearing that God is going to send him unending resources, God says to him in Judges 7:2, “…You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands.” He goes on to explain that if He allowed victory to come and there was the possibility of man claiming credit, He would not receive the glory. Gideon had this beautiful collection of soldiers— 32,000 men— and was probably feeling like he stood a fighting chance. But then God says, “Nope, that’s too many.”
So in obedience, Gideon tells the men if they are afraid, they should go home. 22,000 men left. Packed up and went home. And he was left with 10,000. At this point, he was probably maybe a little anxious, but not entirely hopeless. But again God says to him, “There are still too many men. Take the men down to the water and I will sift them for you there.” If I were Gideon, I think I might’ve been tempted to tell God, “No thanks, I prefer them unsifted. Thanks for offering.” But he didn’t do that. He went down to the water as instructed, and he watched as man after man was sent home and he was left with 300 men. And then verse 7 says, “…with the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands.”
When he was down to the bare minimum, God was ready to move. Nowhere here is anything mentioned that Gideon showed anything other than obedience. And he knew what was coming. He knew he was going to lose people. Every time God instructed him to do something in these verses, it was for the purpose of whittling him down from the huge army to less and less, and he didn’t resist. He trusted. He knew that the process was worth the outcome. Would I have had that kind of faith? If I had known that to get to the point where I am now, I would have to lose a parent? A grandparent? An in-law? Friendships? Stability? A sense of security and predictability? Would I have had the courage to follow Him? I wish I could say yes, but I really don’t know. For sure I would’ve asked a ton of questions first, and that’s the bare minimum.
During this time where I have been sifted and lost people and security and even faith at times, I have been angry. I have questioned. I have complained. Until finally, I admitted as the psalmist in Psalm 73:21-24, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant. I was a brute beast before you, yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
If you are on the losing end today, I want to encourage you that it is not a sign of your downfall. It’s a sign that you are almost to the place where God can deliver you without you trying to prove you did it all yourself. You are poised to see who you are, and who He is, and what He can do.