Think About It: Conscience Over Comfort

tumblr_m3twyetGzR1rvkqrvo1_1280I have been in some pretty uncomfortable places in my life. I have spoken to a group of Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) where I was the only male in attendance and I have attended church where I was the only person of my race. In both situations I felt a little uncomfortable because I was a minority. I am not sure if the initial feeling came from me being different or what I perceived others thought about me being there? Regardless I was initially nervous. Have you been in this position before? Maybe you had that feeling of “what am I doing here or I don’t know if I should be here or not”. Brothers and sisters, you are not alone. There were several folks in the bible that felt this way, but today I want us to examine the situation of a person who thought God picked him by mistake. In his own eyes Gideon felt like a minority but God called him for a major task to be accomplish.

In Judges the sixth chapter it says,

2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. – Judges 6:2-6

The Israelites were in this predicament because they had walked away from God, thus He withdrew His protection from them and allowed their enemies to defeat them. In this story the Israelites were the minority, out numbered and out gunned.

WheretheMagicHappensimageIt took them being humbled by their enemies before they turned back to the God whom they had always served. I remember an old Command Sergeant Major (CSM) who told me that sometimes it takes a significant emotional event to happen in some folks’ life before they will turn around. The people came to their senses and begin calling back on the Lord whom they had served and He called the minority of the minority to accomplish something major. God chose a fellow by the name of Gideon to lead a small group of people against an impossible number of enemies to defeat. He did not call them to go and just fight the Midianites but to defeat them. Now you can imagine if God comes and tells you to go with a small number of folks to fight an enemy that was impossible to count. I imagine that you would probably say, “Excuse me?” Well, Gideon was that guy who did just that.

Listen to the conversation as God sends a messenger to give Gideon who is hiding out from the Midianites some marching orders.

12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” – Judges 6:12-16

hope1Did you notice the pardon me my Lord pattern? Gideon had been chosen to serve God and his people in a huge way but because of his perspective of his people’s condition and his position he was not willing at first to go in the power and presence of the Lord. Can you blame Gideon? I mean after all he wasn’t living high on the hog when this angel came with the message (translation of NOT living high on the hog“ means he was poor”). Gideon was upset also because he had heard about God’s glory and might back in the day, but now it had just become an old wives’ tale or legend.

Gideon knew of the past experiences that his people had with God but he felt that that time was no longer relevant and God could not possibly use him and a small number of folks to accomplish anything significant. But by faith, Gideon a minority, took a stand against the pagan worship of the majority and turned back to God. What happened when Gideon turned to the Lord in spite of what the other folks said? With three hundred men against a number that could not be counted Gideon and his men fought and God’s favor was with them. God demonstrated his faithfulness in honoring Gideon’s stand against the majority. Gideon’s faith grew beginning with him going against the norm of his society, who were not worshiping the true God and it continued. What is the teaching point in this?

Your decision to serve God should not depend on the majority’s opinion. We will all find ourselves outnumbered one day by the majority and placed in a situation where we are the minority, so we must remember our foundational calling of obedience to God. I am usually a little nervous when I find myself in the minority of folks smarter, more skillful, and sometimes even different from me, but the Lord created us all with His purpose. If God is calling you to stand firm for Him, do it. You don’t have to follow the rest of the crowd if they have chosen to walk away from God. Remember, God can use you to turn your major situation around because He will be with you and that makes it the majority. Think about it.

Miller Eichelberger
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Miller Eichelberger are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Miller Eichelberger “Ike” is a chaplain in the United States Army. He has served for over 25 years of combined time as an enlisted Soldier and chaplain. He has deployed three times to Iraq from Desert Storm to Operation New Dawn. Chaplain Eichelberger holds a Bachelors of General Studies degree with concentrations in Psychology and Religion from William Carey University, and a Master of Divinity degree in Leadership from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is endorsed by the South Baptist Convention’s (SBC) North American Missions Board (NAMB). He has been married to Leslie Eichelberger 19 years and they have three children.