It's not always easy to do the right thing. Especially when you are in the wrong place. When your circumstances aren't what you had in mind. His criticism, her judgment, they aren't what you asked for. The job you'd imagined isn't working out the way you'd hoped. Those friends, that coworker. Maybe you've been hit with sudden illness or financial issues. The unexpected loss of a loved one or the harsh reality of doing this parenting thing on your own. Life is hard, if it's not hard now you can trust, hard things are coming. The question is, will your integrity stay intact regardless of your hard times? Can you do the right thing even when you're in the wrong place?
The Israelites didn't intend to be where they were. Had they realized the pain their double mindedness would bring surely they would have reconsidered giving their hearts over to false gods and idol worship. If they only knew then what they know now. But God is a God of His word, He told them their obsession would lead to their oppression. Keeping His promise, He removed His hand from His people and within days the surrounding enemies moved in.
The oppression from the Amalekites and Middiannites was so intense, the Israelites were forced out of town. They were living in the clefts of the mountains, starving from the lack of vegetation. Every time a new crop was produced, the enemies would sweep in, leaving nothing. Scripture says, “they did not leave a single thing for God’s people to eat.”They were literally starving.
Judges 6 is where we meet Gideon. The cries of the Israelites reached God and He partnered with Gideon to rescue his people from their oppression. But this unique partnership wasn't inspired by a noble, impressive move on Gideon's part. Gideon wasn't hitting it out of the park. He wasn't busy building a successful life. He was simply doing what he had do. The next thing right in front of him.
God wasn’t focused on Gideon’s physical location – he was focused on his spiritual position – what made Gideon mighty was his ability to do the right thing even in a hard space.
Judges 6:11 says, "The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites."
Unlike some of the other Israelites who had been beaten down by their oppressors, Gideon didn't cross his arms and sit down in a corner in resistance. He didn't fight against the wind. Gideon didn't have control over his oppression, but he did control his response. Gideon made the choice to do the right thing (threshing wheat) in the wrong place (a winepress) because even though his circumstances weren't ideal his family had to eat.
Threshing is an ancient process used to separate grain from the straw. The process was usually performed on a threshing floor consisting of an open field usually located at the top of a hill. The open space allowed the wind to assist in the separation process knocking out the unwanted sticks and straw and allowing the valuable grain to fall to the threshing floor. What fell to the floor was used for food.
A winepress on the other hand was a large basin or rock pool where men would stomp on grapes,
causing the grapes to break and juice to run into the bottom of these concrete bucket spaces.
Scripture says, Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press when an angel of the Lord showed up and called him forward to lead God's people in battle against their oppressors.
Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. He was hidden in the cleft of a mountain, doing the right thing in the wrong space. His surroundings severely limited his production. No open field, no space, no wind. The end product would be no where near the quality he was used to and yet, his family had to eat and so Gideon did what he had to do.
Being in the wrong space is not an excuse to do the wrong thing.
You will not follow the Lord more intentionally when you are older if you are not following Him more intentionally now. You will not be dedicated to purity with one woman or one man when you are married if you are not dedicated to purity now. You will not get involved in a church family when things slow down if you are not willing to get involved in a church family while they are busy. You will not focus more on your health, your friendships, your future or even your faith if you are not finding ways to focus on them now. If you are not currently in the midst of a battle, then you are either coming out of one or preparing to enter one, because life is a battle. In this world we will have troubles. Some will come because of choices we've made and others will come out of nowhere and take our breath away. Regardless of how hard times arrive our invitation is the same.
Will we give way to our emotions allowing them to lead us in wrong ways or will we check them with the Father and press forward in faith?
You don't have to feel it to do it.
I'm trying to teach this truth to my thirteen year old daughter right now. There are a lot of emotions in middle school and when those emotions are left unchecked they have a tendency to lead people astray. The winds seem to change on a daily basis. One day she shows up and things play out this way and the next day they are blowing that way. She is not the controller of her circumstances, but she is the controller of her response. When friends leave her disappointed will she stay faithful to loving well and doing the right thing even though her emotions want to return the favor? Will she choose not to gossip or spread dissension? Will she take the high road when her feelings are in the pit? Will she, like Gideon, be a person who is dedicated to doing the right thing even though she's in the wrong place.
Not where she wished she were, but still who she knows she is.
Victory is on the other side of doing the right thing regardless of being in the wrong space.
There is so much more to the story of Gideon. The angel found him that day, weary and worn out. Gideon didn't feel much like a mighty warrior. Doing the right thing in the wrong space had taken its toll on him. His confidence struggled and even after the powerful calling from the angel, he went back and forth with for quite some time.
God didn't need Gideon to pretend he was ready for battle. God knew doing the right thing in the wrong place had taken its toll. He wasn't turned off by Gideon's weariness. Instead over and over again, God met Gideon in his insecurity and confirmed His calling. "Gideon, you will lead your people. You will win this battle, you will loose this oppression."
God chose Gideon because when things got hard Gideon chose what was right. He did the
necessary thing even though he didn't feel the desired feelings. He stayed faithful even when his circumstances tempted him to faithlessness. When it would have been easier to give up, Gideon kept going. Feelings change – they come and go – but the word of the Lord stands forever Your feelings are shakeable – your circumstances unpredictable, but your God, He is trust worthy. He will not leave you. He will not fail you. He has not forgotten you. He won’t let you be forsaken. He will stay true to His call. He will lead you forward. He will defend your name. He will honor your choice.
Will you dig deep and continue to do the right thing? Will you stay focused on the Father, faithful in trust, dedicated to promise and hopeful of the future or when the winds change, do you blow with them, letting go of what you know to be true and ending up wherever your feelings fall? In the middle of your hard space?
What you do today, dramatically impacts who you will be tomorrow. Therefore do today what you hope to become tomorrow.
Gideon went on to defeat the enemy. With just three hundred Israelites they overthrew close to 135,000 of the enemies men and, if you read the story yourself you will see, he didn't even break a sweat doing it. God is such a good rescuer. He is such a faithful restorer. He is the redeemer of all things broken and bloodied and He totally has your back. You just do the right thing and trust, He's there, He's faithful and He's good and He is God.