Read: Judges 7
Reflect: Have you in the midst of an emergency thought: “I’ve got this. God loves me. If I just try harder, I can figure this out.” That was my attitude in 2015, a year of high distress. My husband had been out of work since 2011 and by 2013 we had emptied his retirement account, just trying to hold on to our home. By 2015, despite trying to negotiate with the mortgage company, we would lose the house. I was terrified that we would end up homeless, living in our car. God had removed one support system after another during those years – employment, savings, and Christian friends and family who felt uncomfortable when life got messy. All we had left was our marriage and a God Who called Himself Faithful. We felt utterly defeated.
GOD’S CRAZY PLAN
God often doesn’t supply the victory in ways we imagine. This was true in my case and also in the Book of Judges, chapter 7 in the account of Gideon. The beginning of the chapter records the Midianites and their allies gathering to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. What was God’s stellar battle plan? Get rid of what God considered “extra”. Yup, you have it right and it sounds crazy. God told Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, they will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.” Gideon ordered anyone who was afraid to go home. Promptly 22,000 of the Israelite army skedaddled off the battlefield. God then told Gideon, “There are still too many!” The remaining soldiers were sent to a stream to drink. 300 men drank by lapping with their hands to their mouths in order to drink. The “lappers” were the only soldiers allowed to remain for battle. Can you imagine the conversations going home between the soldiers who were now released from duty?
God encouraged Gideon with a dream of victory. Gideon supplied each of the 300 with a trumpet and an empty jar with a torch inside. The soldiers had to have looked at each other in disbelief. The battle plan was to go to the edge of the enemy camp, on cue blow the trumpets and then break the jars so that the lit torches would be exposed. A rousing yell would come from the Israelite army’s lips, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”
THIS WAS GOD’S PLAN AND HIS ALONE
Gideon’s army obeyed and the Lord got very busy. The Midianite soldiers ran off in terror. It was at the river that they met other Israelite forces who cut then them down. This battle plan which looked so ridiculous on paper was God’s plan and His alone. All the Israelites had to do was obey.
GOD’S CUTBACK PLAN
That became the battle attitude in the Stoner household during those lean and terrifying years. The battle was the Lord’s; it was not ours. The only way we could have ever really grasped this truth was by God’s cutback plan. He removed 90% of the things we had previously depended on before we would finally allow the battle to truly belong to the Lord.
WE HAD TO FIRST LEARN TO LET GO
As I am writing this, it is 2023 and God has supplied us with multiple blessings. Our lives would appear to be on a much smaller scale before everything hit in 2011. However, we are infinitely richer in non-material things. God has supplied us with a wonderful church, solid friends and new ministries we could have never imagined. We first had to learn to let go of our pride, get on our knees and believe, “The battle belongs to the Lord.”
Apply: Have you become exhausted, trying to fight your own battles? Do you wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, worrying about what has not yet happened? It wasn’t until we began to let go of our own plans and to trust in God’s battle plan that we again found joy. “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (II Chronicles 20:15).