Have you ever wondered how God defines a super hero?
As I was reading through Judges recently, I found a passage in which God refers to Gideon as a hero.
The angel of the Lord appeared to [Gideon] and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” Judges 6:12
The story of Gideon has always been one of my favorite Biblical stories. Here’s this guy, going about his business, when God finds him and sends him to fight a mighty army with only 300 people. Gideon wasn’t thrilled about the assignment, but he goes anyway.
As I read the story this time, I realized God has a very different idea of what a super hero looks like. We think a super hero is brave, ready to rush into danger, never fearful. We think super heroes are full of confidence, never doubting their ability to win. But that’s certainly not what we find in Gideon.
Let’s take a closer look at Super Hero Gideon…
First, let’s see where Gideon was when God called him.
Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. Judges 6:11
Gideon, God’s super hero, was in the bottom of a winepress hiding from the Midianites. This mighty man of God was terrified, not even willing to go about his daily business in broad daylight! Instead, he jumped down inside a deep winepress to thresh his grain.
God’s super hero was hiding from his enemies. And yet, God saw something more. Behind the cowardly façade, God saw the heart of warrior, a man personally chosen to deliver his people from their enemies.
Can’t you see Gideon’s reaction when God called him? There he is, hiding, when God calls him a mighty warrior. I imagine him looking around, trying to see who God’s angel is talking to. Maybe he sheepishly pauses, points at himself with a puzzled look on his face, mouths the words, “Me?” I’m certain he wonders if God has the right person.
Maybe you are like Gideon, hiding and terrified. Maybe you are hiding from your enemies, hiding from that thing God has called you to? Remember, God doesn’t look at your outward appearance, your outward action. He looks deep inside you and sees the person He created you to be.
Next, Gideon whines about his circumstances and argues with God.
“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”
The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” Judges 6:13-16
Isn’t that becoming of a hero?
“If you are so good, why are our enemies defeating us? Why have you abandoned us?” Gideon whines.
Never did Gideon look to the Israelites, to their sins and the way they abandoned God to grasp an understanding of why the Midianites were oppressing them. Instead, he simply moaned and groaned about their lot in life. (Ouch. I’ve been there.)
Then, Gideon points out that he is simply not hero material. He is from the weakest clan in one of the smallest tribes. He wasn’t created to be a warrior. He belongs in the winepress.
But God disagrees. He tells Gideon, “Go with the strength you have. I am with you! I will be your strength where you are weak, and you will overcome the entire Midianite people as if there’s only one person!”
Despite his fears, his doubts, God reassures Gideon. He promises to be with him and provide the strength he needs, just as He promises us.
What journey is God calling you to today? Where has He called you to step out of your comfort zone, to step up and be brave in the face of incredible difficulties? Is He calling you to be brave in the face of single parenting? Is He calling you to start a ministry, to help others? Is He calling you to leave a job where you’ve succeeded to start over on a new path?
If He is calling you, He will give you the strength for the journey.
Finally, Gideon asks God to reassure him again.
Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew. Judges 6:36-40
Gideon wasn’t satisfied with speaking face-to-face with God. He wasn’t satisfied with God promising to be with him. He wasn’t satisfied with knowing his strength would be enough. He wasn’t satisfied with the promise of victory.
Gideon still needed reassurance. He still needed God to prove again that He knew what He was doing in calling Gideon, the least among his family.
And God was faithful. He showed up, honored Gideon’s request. He understands our humanity, our need to be constantly certain. He is good and will faithfully reassure us in our doubts. And, if you have heard God’s calling and yet are still uncertain, God will faithfully reassure you. Ask Him. Seek His face, His reassurance. He will honor your request.
From a human standpoint, God’s chosen super hero was quite a failure. He certainly didn’t look like a brave, confident, rush into the heat of battle, super hero.But there’s one thing I see throughout Gideon’s life that he did well:
He obeyed every detail of God’s directions.
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded… Judges 6:27
Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home… Judges 7:3
But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” When Gideon… Judges 7:4-5
The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” So Gideon… Judges 7:7-8
That night the Lord said, “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! So Gideon… Judges 7:9, 11
Over and over, God gives Gideon instructions. Over and over, Gideon follows those instructions. He watched as God whittled his army down to only 300 men, certainly not comforting to a man who is already fearful and uncertain. He obeyed as God told him to go down and listen to the Midianites, to hear the fear God had placed in their hearts. And Gideon went down with his rag-tag army to fight the Midianites, just as God commanded.
And God was faithful. He was with Gideon. God gave Gideon an easy victory.
And that’s what we need to remember. God calls unlikely people to be super heroes, but He is with us when He calls us. He is the strength in our weakness. He is the confidence in our fear. He is the reassurance in our doubts. He is the victory in our super hero alter-ego.
God looks at what’s inside us, what He created us to be. When we do the things God calls us to do, things way outside our abilities, God gets the credit. Our super hero actions point the world back to Him rather than to our own strengths. We see God do something we know we could never do on our own. We get to experience the joy of seeing the Almighty use us.
We become God’s very own super heroes.