The call went out, and 32,000 showed up. A respectable turnout, but God said, No. Too many. Against 135,000 of the enemy, we would have thought the numbers needed to go the other way, but this is God we’re talking about, and God rarely does things the way we would. So God called for the first cut: All those who are afraid and would rather be sitting at home right now next to a warm fire may go. Twenty-two thousand go. Ten thousand left. Smaller numbers, but at least we know these are the brave ones. But God’s still not satisfied. Still too many, He said. The second cut — that little test down by the creek — nets Gideon exactly 300 men. Now we’re ready, God said, and you wonder if any of those 300 would have gone home in the first cut had they known they would be going up against the enemy this short-handed. Too late now. There’s no room for second guesses. They are in this thing to the end; there is no retreat.
Those 300 guys are the unsung heroes of this story. In the Bible, Gideon gets all the attention. He’s even mentioned in Hebrews 11 among those who by faith “shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword … [putting] whole armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:33-34) That’s Gideon.
But it’s also Gideon’s warriors, 300 of them to be exact, who never got the benefit of an angelic visit, never got to put a fleece out, or hear the enemy prophesy about their ultimate victory. We don’t hear that much about them, but they had to have had the same faith Gideon had, because none of them went home, even after discovering how few of them there were. Like you and me, these were people of faith — people who had come too far in to turn back. For them, the decision had already been made: there would be no retreat.
Gideon’s 300 may not have made it into the book of Hebrews, but they are our heroes and they are the mighty ones in our story. And they are you, and they are me.
We heard about some of the present-day 300 in yesterday’s Catch; now it’s time to put your name there. And today, I want you to complete the sentence: “As for me, __________, there is no retreat from __________.”
We suggest you start, as Gideon did, at home. If fact, we are convinced that if you refuse to retreat from what God has asked you do in relation to your husband, wife, children, roommate, and out as far as maybe your next door neighbor, the enemies outside your home will fall flat. As I found in this study, the most challenging acts of faith are among the ones closest to us. Why is that? Because they are the people who know us the best.
No retreat from our families. No retreat from being known and being vulnerable. No hiding in the winepress. (That means no retreat to the man cave, guys.) No isolation. No keeping your thoughts to yourself. No harboring resentments, bitternesses, or an unforgiving heart. No putting up walls. No running away.
This is the time to count on the weapons God gave us: the clay pot, which is us, broken and laid bare so that the light of Christ, our torch, can be clearly seen and known. And then there is the horn, which in scripture is always a symbol of power, and confirms 2 Corinthians 4:7, that the power of God is made obvious in us through our brokenness and vulnerability. But we cannot know any of this in retreat. No one (including ourselves) will know or experience anything of God’s power in isolation.
If you want to be used of God — if you want the power of God to be seen and known through you — there can simply be … no retreat!