Looking For A Sign?
I have to make a horrible confession. I don’t own a GPS. I know. I am probably the last holdout on the planet. I can’t stand backseat drivers; so, the absolute last thing I need or want is something on the dashboard telling me how to drive. Although, to be entirely honest with you, I was really wishing I had one about 3 weeks ago. Let me tell you what happened. I had just finished speaking at a Christian retreat at St. Simon’s Island, Ga. It was a late Sunday afternoon, I wanted to get home, and I was not looking forward to the 4 hour drive that awaited me.
I pulled out of the retreat center and began looking for the exit that would take me out to the highway. In my haste I missed the exit sign as I was leaving. Next thing I knew I was driving down some Georgia backroad headed to who knows where. I didn’t know where I was, had no idea in which direction I was traveling, and didn’t have the slightest clue as to how to get on the right road. So, there I was… lost and looking for a sign, something that would give me some sense of location and hopefully point me back in the right direction. I drove for miles before I finally realized I had to turn around. I had no choice. The road had ended. Tired and angry, I swung the car around and headed back. I hate to admit this but I actually had to drive all the way back to the retreat center and start over. Needless to say, I paid much closer attention the second time around and easily spotted the BIG GREEN EXIT SIGN that I had missed earlier. So much time and energy wasted all because I missed the sign.
I can sympathize with Gideon. Yes, he had God’s promise. Yes, he had just been the recipient of a divine visitation. (Most of us would give our right arm for such a clear calling.) But I have to admit that I too have struggled in the aftermath of divine encounter. As the days and weeks pass we begin to second guess. Was that really God? Did I really hear Him? Or was I imagining the whole thing? Problems arise. Difficulties come. Adversity enters the picture. Worry and doubts begin to pound against our once rock-solid sense of conviction. And all of a sudden we begin to wonder, we begin to waver. And then, just like Gideon, we ask for a sign, a confirmation, something, anything that will fan back into flames the confidence that once burned so strongly.
Gideon appears to have been a man who struggled with confidence. Throughout the story of his life he repeatedly asks God for signs and confirmations. The scene at the winepress would be followed by the incident with the fleece. On the night before the battle God lead’s him down into the enemy camp to overhear a prophetic dream regarding his victory. Gideon constantly needed confirmation in his life. Just look at the text. If an encounter with the angel of the Lord doesn’t convince you of God’s favor, what will?
And yet, here’s the thing. God gave Gideon as many signs as he needed. Furthermore, and this just blows me away, in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11 Gideon’s name appears with the other greats of the faith. What’s my point? Just this, it’s easy to fool ourselves into believing that faith means never having to entertain doubts or second guess the voice you heard on the mountain top. I can only speak for myself but on at least 4 separate occasions my family and I have uprooted our lives in response to what we believed to be the voice of God. Did we march forward in complete confidence? No. Not hardly. We had questions. We wrestled with worry and fear. At different points throughout the journey we were convinced that we had missed it. There were plenty of times that we lacked for confidence. But we kept moving forward in obedience and trust. We didn’t have all the answers but we knew that God would not fail us.
Yes, Gideon was a man whose life was marked by his own humanity. He struggled with confidence. He constantly need reassurance. His own sense of limitation overwhelmed him. Uncertainty and worry almost sidelined him. But God had called him. And true to His Word, God was with Gideon every step of the way. Gideon asked for a sign. And God graciously gave it to him. Time and time and time again. Never be afraid to ask God for direction. Never hesitate to ask for His guidance and counsel. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask. Take a lesson from Gideon. If you find yourself wrestling with uncertainty, ask God to speak to your heart and spirit. Let Him confirm His word. Through His Word and through the voice of His Spirit we have sure and secure guidance. Just don’t be like me. Don’t allow haste and frustration to get you off course. Slow down. And pay attention to His signs.