Like an old-fashioned serial, that is how I have approached our weekly “Word From Our Sponsor” these past few weeks. We have been taking a peek at a variety of episodes in the life of Gideon, complete with cliff hangers!
We began by meeting Gideon, who from all appearances was less than heroic. He was cowering in a winepress threshing his bit of wheat, hiding from marauding Midianites. We can relate to his fear and the measures he took to protect what little was his own, but he is no role model for bravery. At this very juncture the Lord appears to him and addresses him. How does the Lord address him? “Frightened?”, or “Timid”? No! He is described as “A mighty man of valour”! At this point in the story we stop and chat about the verse from 1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” People and things are not as they appear to be. God sees past the immediate and sees what can be under his hand. As we gather for our Friday Night Drop In, there are few less impressive crowds. The ‘world’ does not esteem us. God however sees us quite differently, both because he knows our intrinsic value to Him, but also he knows who we are in potential. He is changing us! We are being “transformed from glory to glory”.
I see the changes in my friends over the years. The folks from the Parole Office have noted the difference in people who chose to ‘hang out with us’ and those who don’t! Folks who hang with Jesus experience change.
I used to travel the Prairies preaching and teaching. Often I took people along with me to share their stories of change. One woman used to say, “ I know I am not what I ought to be, but I thank God I am not what I was.” If any of us take time to look ‘in the rear-view mirror’ we will be able to note the change. We may rightly be frustrated at the slow pace of change, at times, but God is transforming his people.
C.S. Lewis writes that if we could be transported and see what we will one day be, that the being we would encounter would be so glorious that we would be tempted to worship it. If in the space of the few years we have been meeting, first as Up Town and then as Street Hope, we have witnessed such amazing change, can you imagine what we will be after ten thousand years of basking in his glory! Hymn writer John Newton says, “When we’ve been there 10 thousand years, … we’ve no less days to sing his praise than when we’d first begun.”
There is a glorious future in store for our friend Gideon and there is an equally glorious future in store for all who give their lives to God.
Over the course of our Gideon Serial we have seen him take baby steps, and halting steps. He moves from hiding in a winepress to a sneaky obedience in the dark of night, and then to cower behind his father who confronts an angry mob. We see him testing God and growing slowly in his prayer life.
We are in the mid point of our serial and folks are so curious that they are reading ahead. They cannot wait for the next installment. I think we may have hit on a really effective means of group discipleship! I too, am enjoying it, because I love to tell a good story and the Gospel remains “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”