So it’s “So what?” time. Time to figure out what this reduction principle means in my life. What does it change about the way I live? How will it make me into a different person? Is this just a bunch of words or will make a difference in my life, and, if it does, what will that difference be? I get all this stuff about Gideon, but what about me? So what?
Well first, it’s empowering. When God reduces us — when He humbles us due to sin or debilitating circumstances or depression, He has put us into a position to receive His power. When He puts our backs to the wall or empties us of our own strength, we are in an ideal place to receive His. Otherwise we don’t even know what we need, because we have convinced ourselves that we are doing fine. I would not even know about faith had I not fallen.
Secondly, this understanding gets us over our barriers and through our excuses. Whatever it is you know you must do that you find especially difficult — be it avoiding temptation, balancing that checkbook, loving your wife, teaching your children, fulfilling that promise — you can do, because you are not dealing only with self-determination, you are discovering God’s power as you step into that challenge. You are not alone. If it’s something God has asked you to do, He will give you the strength to do it. As a matter of fact, this will turn into an experience and understanding of Him you would have not known otherwise. Faith is a growing thing. God was patient with Gideon and his need for a sign, and He met him there. It was all the faith Gideon could muster right then, so God brought Him along. He does the same with us.
Thirdly, this gives us a means of facing our fears and embracing our weaknesses. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to face our fears and act in spite of them, because, like Gideon, we know that God is with us. The scripture says “the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power,” (Judges 6:34) and you and I have that same Spirit living in us. We would not even discover that Spirit were we not in need of it in some way.
Fourthly, in embracing our weaknesses, we become more in tune to the weaknesses of others, and more inclined to empathize with them and come alongside them rather than judge them or try and make ourselves superior to them. You come next to the homeless and realize your own homelessness. You visit the criminal and realize there are things you should be in jail for. Instead of blaming others, you see yourself first, because you’ve embraced your sin. You know the log that was in your eye just now, before you had it removed, so the speck in your brother’s eye is no big deal.
And finally — though this is surely not the end of it because the list goes on and on and you can add to it, I’m sure — what we’ve found by coming out of hiding as Gideon did, is that we can be vulnerable. We can come down off our thrones, come out of hiding, come out from behind that mask, come up out of that grave, get up out of that bed — we can do all these things because we are merely showing up as who we are. The secret of Gideon is the secret of being weak and powerful at the same time — of living in our vulnerability and finding our strength in it — of being afraid and showing up anyway.
I have some of the greatest fears facing me right now — greater than I have faced all my life. That’s a difficult thing for someone my age, especially when I think I should have all of my affairs pretty much in order by now. (“Shoulda, woulda, coulda”) I’m retirement age; it should be all downhill from here, and yet, the mountain has never looked taller or more daunting. At any given time, I am either hiding in the winepress, hoping all this goes away, or I’m out there on the battlefield with silly things in my hands trying to be obedient to the word of the Lord. I know too much now. I know that in the winepress, “I can’t” is a mantra; out on the battlefield, “I can’t” is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit who is right inside my heart telling me I can. Where I am is up to me; what I do is up to the Lord in me. God doesn’t do everything, but He does give me that one thing to do and it’s a big one. He gives me the choice of staying in the winepress or coming out for battle. It’s no small thing, and the choice presents itself constantly — almost every moment of every day. What will you do?