What If I Don’t Have Enough?

Sermon Text –  03.01.2020

[Judges 6-7]

          Did you know that men and women are different? When it comes to emotion, women are like a 64-pack of crayons and men are stuck with a 6 pack of primary colors. Men have three emotions – right? Happy, Sad, Angry. We color with blue, red and yellow, right? But women have nuance, and they have depth in their emotional tool-kit, there’s not just green or blue, there’s blue-green. There’s aqua, turquoise – whatever that means. There’s not just sad or happy, there’s anxious, hopeful, there’s happy-crying (which makes no sense to me.) Now, I’m generalizing – not because I agree with it, but because that’s what our culture allows isn’t it? It’s getting better, but for a long time men were taught simple emotions. Do not feel. No nuance. And so what we find, in all people, but particularly in men, is that sometimes nuance in emotion comes out as anger. I might stressed, or scared – but because I don’t have those colors in my emotional toolkit, it always ends up looking like anger. Have you ever had that experience? Where you think you’re mad about something, but actually it was something else? A feeling you didn’t know how to express?
 
          I have felt that a lot lately. Thinking about the Protocol, and all the stuff that’s going on in this church – the good and the bad, and possible changes in our denomination. I’m hopeful, I’m nervous, I’m sad, I’m excited – and a lot of times, I’m scared. I think a lot of people are scared. And I think that fear is making us act out in different ways. You might pick a fight with someone you know on the other side – and it seems like you’re angry, but it might be that you’re really sad. Maybe you make big, sweeping statements about the other side – stuff you know isn’t really true, but it makes you feel better because you’re scared.
 

Today is the last week of our sermon series on Old Testament Stories of Trust. We have been looking at all these stories from the Old Testament to see that God is worthy of trust. This is a well placed sermon series. I put in the calendar 10 months ago, but God knew we needed it today. For all the anger, fear, sadness, hope that we are feeling in our denomination, in our church life, and in our personal lives – what I want to show you today is that trusting God is the secret to finally finding peace. These things that we are feeling – they’re not new.

 
 
          And so we turn to our story for today – the story of Gideon. Now, slowly we’ve been working through the Old Testament. We started with Noah, way at the beginning of the world. Then we moved up to the Israelites in desert and in the battle of Jericho, and now with Gideon we are a little bit farther in the story. You see after Israel comes into the promise land, they have no king, they have no leader. Over time when Israel gets in trouble, a single leader would rise up and get them through the crisis, and then give up his power when it was over. These people were called Judges, this is before they came up with the idea of Kings. Before Kings, we had Judges. Gideon was a leader of Israel, a judge. So to give us a little backdrop, before our passage in chapter seven, chapter six introduces Gideon. Right at the beginning of chapter six, it says that Israel did evil in the eyes of God, and so for seven years Israel was dominated by the Midianites. Midianites are a nasty neighboring group who have been oppressing Israel for years. And so, when it is time for God to save Israel from the Midianites, He comes to Gideon.
 

          Chapter 6 verse 12 tells us [read 12-15]. Gideon is afraid. He doesn’t believe in himself, he asks God for signs, he needs confirmation. And so God gives him a sign, and then gives him some instructions. God says, go tear down the altar the Midianites built to their god. Tear down the altar, and use the wood to make a sacrifice to me, the real God. Verse 27 tells us, [read it]. Gideon is scared. He does not trust God, and so he is being sneaky. But Gideon is still not satisfied, he needs more proof. So he puts God to the test. In verse 37 Gideon takes a blanket and puts it on the ground and tells God, in the morning make only the blanket wet and the ground dry. And it happens, he wrings out the blanket in the morning. Then Gideon tests God again, and he puts the blanket on the ground and says, “Okay, this time, make the ground wet, but the blanket dry.” And it happens. Gideon is like a little scaredy-cat. He doesn’t trust God to do this thing.

    
      So now we get to our scripture lesson for today. Gideon is at the head of an army, 32,000 men. And God says, “You have too many men. You might think this was your doing.” And so God tells Gideon to reduce his numbers. Anybody who is scared can go home. 22,000 men turn back. And then God reduces the numbers even further. They take the 10,000 men and everybody gets a drink. If they cup their hands to drink, then they could stay. If they stick their face in the water, they have to go home. In the end, there are 300 men left. Gideon started with 32,000 and is left with 300 men to take on the Midianites. That’s less than one percent left over. And then there’s this weird bit in verse 9, where God tells Gideon to go down to the Midianite camp to eavesdrop. [Read 7:10-11]. Gideon overhears the Midianites talking about how scared they are of Israelites. God sent Gideon to overhear them talking, to make Gideon feel better. And so now Gideon is ready for an attack. So he gathers the 300 hundred men and they surround the Midianite camp. Every guy has a trumpet and a clay jar. At Gideon’s signal they all blow the trumpet, yell, and smash their clay jars, which reveals the torches that they are holding. It’s chaos in the Midianite camp. Verse 21 tells us [21-22]. 300 hundred men with trumpets, took out a Midianite army of 120,000. And look at the way it’s structured. No way could Gideon take credit for this, this was absolutely God’s victory.

 

         
 

          What If I don’t have enough? Truth is, you don’t have enough. There’s always more, there’s always another level. If you give everything you’ve got, still they will want more from you. In life, there’s never enough. The good news this morning is that trusting God is the only way to have enough. Without God, there will always be a need for more. Before God showed up, Israel had 32,000 men to take on 120,000. That’s already insane. No way Israel defeats a force four times their size, all by themselves. God shows up, and says “get rid of some of the soldiers.” Get rid of 99%, so that you can’t possibly think that you did this. This shows us something very important – God is the source. God is the reason, the foundation of our lives. If you build on the wrong foundation, the house will collapse. But if you build on God, you will stand strong. Love of God should be the root of everything we do. Now, there’s nothing wrong with building on that foundation, but don’t forget it’s there. God is the starting point for everything else we do in life. We have to lean on God, trust God, don’t trust in ourselves.

 

See God knows something very important about humans. We have a tendency to think we are awesome. We take self-affirmation and turn it into self-absorption. We take a good thing like confidence, and we turn it into arrogance. We take a small victory and we claim we don’t need God anymore. Think about this, in the last few hundred years, with all these amazing medical advancements – one of the first things we did as the medical community was to cut God out of the picture. We started to take credit for everything. We still blame God for all the bad, but the good? Surgeries, technology, medicines, new pills – we think that’s all us. We are building a house on a foundation, and we forget the foundation is there. We get so excited about the things we can do, that we forget where we come from, where we get it all from. God designed the story of Gideon to prove without a doubt who was in charge. God is the source of life, the foundation of existence. For Christians, trusting God is not optional. To live in this world, we have to lean on something. Humans trust themselves too much, but we need to be trusting God instead.

 

 
 

          A lot of people say “I just wish God would speak to me. I just wish God would guide me to the right answer.” But the reality is that God IS speaking – are you listening? In the moments when we are uncertain, when life has forced us to our knees, usually when we hit rock bottom – that’s when we begin to listen. Some people think that God waits until the last second to start speaking. I think God is speaking the whole time, but we only start listening as a last resort. Trusting God starts with opening your eyes. Take a look at your life, with heaven’s eyes. Try to see what God sees in your life. God is speaking – are you listening? How do we listen to God? How does God speak to us? Lots of ways! Sometimes through the words of a friend. Sometimes through the things we study in the bible. Sometimes through a snatch of words from a song we hear on the radio. God is not limited in how he reaches us – the only limitation in our connection and communication with God is how much we listen, how close we are paying attention. This week the challenge is simple. Start listening to God. Ask God to show you how to read the signs he has put in your life, to hear his message, to remember our foundation. I truly believe that God speaks to each of us differently, all we have to do is start listening.

      
    When you start listening for God in your life, you’re going to hear one message over and over – trust me. Looking at the story of Gideon, all this weird stuff that happens – the message of every moment is simply: Trust me. Make the blanket wet, make the blanket dry, get rid of 99% of your fighters – all these movements and instructions have the same message: God is saying: trust me. Don’t trust yourself, trust God. So, let’s ask the question: When we give it all over to God, what does that look like in our lives? The answer is so awesome: Trusting God is the path to finding peace in your life. When we trust God, and we learn to leave it in his hands – we can find peace. 3 Levels: First, there will be peace in our hearts. When fear and stress and anger rise up in our lives. Trusting God is one of the most effective ways to let go. If you know with confidence that at the end of the day, God is there. It’s much easier to let it go. Everything that happens is used by God for His glory and for our good – in this life or the next. Trust God and there will be peace in your heart. Next, there will be peace in our relationships. A lot of times in life it’s the people around us that create the stress, the fear, the anger. But in the midst of a difficult relationship, when things are hard – if we trust God, there will be peace in our relationships. Not right away, but eventually. As we grow closer to God, as we trust him, he shows us how to fix our relationships. Peace in our hearts, peace in our relationships, and lastly – peace in our actions. If we remember that at the end of the day, God’s in control, and God is trustworthy – we can move forward into the future at peace with whatever comes. Take the protocol for example – the future of our denomination. It seems like such a big deal for us. There’s so much stress, and fear and anger and sadness all coming together. But here’s the thing – I have a sneaking suspicion that God doesn’t stay up late at night worrying about what name is on the outside of the building. God probably doesn’t care much about the lines we draw in this world. God cares about how we treat each other. Think about this, even if we fail – God can use that failure to his glory and our good.  Now we still need to work hard, but we can have confidence in the fact that we know the end of the story. All that stress you’re carrying around is an unnecessary burden. Trust God, let go of your burdens and find that peace.
 
 

          Each week of this sermon series we have asked a question. What if I’m not the best? And we realized, you’re not the best – God is. What if I make a mistake? And we realized, you’ll make mistakes – but God doesn’t. What if I’m overwhelmed? Yeah, you’ll be overwhelmed in life, but God is always there. But what if I don’t have enough? Well, God is always more than enough. Do you see how the answer to every question is God? When we don’t know how to do something – God does. When we make mistakes – God is there, taking broken pieces and making them better than they ever were. When we are overwhelmed, God is there to get us through. Where we are not enough, God is overflowing. When we lean on ourselves, we fall short – again and again. But leaning on God is the path to peace. And having that peace will help us love each other better. And so I leave you with this – May you trust God.  When it feels like you don’t have enough, learn to lean on God and not yourself. And in that way, may you find peace. Amen.