A few days ago I received a message from David, one of our readers, who asked a question that has been haunting me ever since. The essence of his question was this: Gideon and his 300 are great, but what about the other 99% — the 22,000 warriors who were afraid and were able to admit it, and the 9,700 who were battle-ready but sent home anyway?
Excellent question. That’s the kind of question everyone thinks about but rarely asks.
The answer is relatively simple, but the ramifications are huge. The answer is: They might have shared in the victory, but they missed all the action. They missed the growth the testing of their own faith would have produced in their lives, giving them more courage and confidence in the Lord for the next battle.
But remember, Gideon’s 300 represented not only victory, but the brokenness that is an essential part of the process of getting to that victory. That’s what the smashing of the clay pots symbolized. God gives us victory through our own weaknesses and brokenness, not our strengths. He rewards the vulnerable. Our own strengths get in the way. Gideon’s 300 learned that, making them more eager to be used for the next challenge.
Gideon’s percentages are not that much different from the ones George Barna found in the church today (Maximum Faith by George Barna). In his research he found so many Christians barely getting off the ground in terms of spiritual transformation, and so few recognizing the value and work that brokenness can make in that transformation. Indeed brokenness seems to be the turning point of maturity for Christians and few there be that find it. Brokenness enables us to get beyond ourselves and recognize our need for God’s complete, continuing and uninterrupted intervention in our life. For us to become the people God intends us to be, brokenness is not an option; it is a necessity.
“An individual cannot transform himself, nor can a church transform a person. That work can only be done by God, through the empowerment and direction of the Holy Spirit. But God is eager to partner with those who will cooperate with Him. Understanding what God seeks to do in our lives is a critical step toward not becoming seduced and sidetracked by mere religious activity. The richness of the journey is found in the experience of progressing through the challenges of the process in the company of God.” (Barna)
God wants us jumping into life in spite of our fears and misgivings. He wants us smashing our clay pots (not putting any confidence in ourselves) and stepping out in His power. He’s going to meet us in battle just as he met Gideon’s 300. We show up in our own brokenness, with the light of Christ shining through us, and God can do anything. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)