Gideon stood in the dark. He heard the muffled sounds of the ninety-nine soldiers near him. He was glad he couldn’t see his 200 other soldiers a few hundred yards away.
This military operation was smoke and mirrors. More accurately, it was torches, clay water pots, and swords. And trumpets. 300 trumpets.
Just after the guard changed in the Midianite camp, the trumpets were blown, the pots were broken, the torches flared up. All 300 men shouted and the Midianites panicked. The Israelites didn’t so much win the battle as clean up after the chaos.
Gideon got to this point of leading his small army into “God only knows how we’ll win this one” battle through a strange training process.
Conversing with God.
We call Gideon’s approach bargaining with God. We often criticize his lack of trust. We warn people about “putting out a fleece”
But what if the most remarkable part of Gideon’s story is that Gideon kept conversing with God? God says something, Gideon says, “But sir,” and asks for clarification, for validation, for confirmation. And God never once says, “you idiot.” God never once says, “Let’s find someone else.”
Because Gideon was a mighty warrior, but he didn’t yet know it. And God was with him, but he didn’t yet believe it.
Every turn in the conversation taught him that God was in fact with him. God was never put off by Gideon’s questions. And bit by bit, Gideon learned the warrior lessons of triage, of discernment, of strategy, of speaking with confidence, of surveillance, of following command. He learned them because God’s step by step teaching gave him those experiences.
When Jesus talked with his disciples, he said, to them as he said to Gideon, “The Lord, I, am with you.” And he called them friends, children, beloved, sent ones.
And us. He is with us. He is teaching us.
You can read the story in Judges 6-8