In today’s first reading Gideon is encouraged by the Angel of the Lord, “Go with the strength you have, and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.” (Judges 6:11). My dad used to say, “Kiddo, the Lord never gives you more than you can handle.” Much like the Lord encouraged Gideon, and my dad encouraged me, we need to remember that we do have the strength we need to handle everything that comes our way. Each of us, every day, are faced with something we need to manage, or handle, or deal with, or figure out, or negotiate, or for which we need to pray for miraculous intervention. We need to go with the strength we have. The Lord’s love is sufficient to fulfill all our needs, we just need to let Him do His thing (so to speak).
One Step at a Time
The more we take things one day at a time, one step at a time, one problem at a time, the stronger we are. Invariably, there is another day, a few more steps taken, and a solution we may not have anticipated. God has a way of pushing the ones that love Him most. Sometimes it is a nudge, but oftentimes a push to take on more. And more, and more. Suddenly the day that seemed so well planned turns into the day that nothing we plan is done. And we have taken on three new commitments. One way to help discern when to say yes and when to say no thank you, is to take on the commitments that bring us closer to God. When we talk with God a lot during the day, and ask Him to let us know only His will, it is more obvious to us that He is right there working with us.
It is important to note The Lord’s response in today’s reading from Judges. Gideon receives his sign, recognizes the Lord, who not only discourages him from fear and promises eternal life, but he starts with his message with the advice to be calm! “Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die” (Judges 6:23). We all need to calm down, but that can be terribly challenging when your inbox is consistently full of gloom and doom. For every positive message like these reflections, I receive ten times the negative messages telling me about something I must do or invest in so my future is financially secure. Jesus explains just how difficult it is to be rich and make it into Heaven. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mt. 19:24). Imagine St. Peter thinking to himself, ‘okay, so my fishing business is nil while I’m following your lead, and now I’m doomed to poverty too?’ At least he sugarcoats his question “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” (Mt. 19:27).
Do we really give up everything? Or just what is convenient? When it gets inconvenient, do we lose hope? Do we not recognize the power we have in Him, the strength which is sufficient? Jesus goes on to explain , “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt. 19:29). Comparably, God told Gideon not to fear! That he would not die, to trust Him and move forward with the strength he had.
Are we willing to give up the hard things, especially concerning those we love the most, for His sake? Can we stick to what we know is right, or truthful? Even when it means backing away from the relationships we treasure most? When we do follow the truth, that which we instinctively know pleases God, He sets fire to the rocks in front of us. We know it is His sign, we know He is making what seemed impossible, perfectly possible. Be calm, and go with the strength God gives you!