July 30 – Coward to Conqueror – God’s Bananagrams

Read Judges 6:16-20

I love board games that use words. Challenge me to Bananagrams and I’m all in. My family says I’m a little competitive, but unscrambling and rearranging the letter tiles to form words makes me excited (especially if I win). There are words in our English language that pair together nicely. If I said the words pen and blank, you would probably fill in with the word, pencil. Bread and butter. Lock and key. Hand and glove. Word pairs. They are so common that they require very little thought. But if I asked you to finish this word pair- obedience and ______, I think most of us would struggle. However, in God’s vocabulary, it is as common as pen and pencil. What is the word to pair with obedience?

Gideon was living in desperate times. Judges 6 explains the oppression by the Midianites. They would destroy their produce and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey…they came into the land to devastate it. (Judges 6:4-6) Israel was starving. They scraped together what they could just to feed themselves and their families. No wonder Gideon was hiding in a secluded wine press threshing wheat. That wheat might have been his only sustenance.

It strikes me that after the angel appeared and declared that he was the man God would use to defeat Midian, Gideon’s first response was to hurry off to get bread and a goat to sacrifice. First, I find it amazing that Gideon had a goat, flour, bread and broth. Perhaps it was the last or near the last of his supplies. The angel told him to lay the meat and bread on a rock and pour out the broth. Next in verse 20, there are 4 little words that we can quickly gloss over but I believe are so important to Gideon’s success:

“and he did so”.

Gideon, who was full of doubt and questions moments before, no longer asked questions, but in total abandonment of his precious sustenance for survival, obeyed. This obedience was a total act of faith. Perhaps the grain from the threshing floor was the wheat made into bread that he willingly sacrificed.

It reminds me of another Old Testament story about wheat in destitute times. 1 Kings 17 records the account of a widow willing to take her last bit of flour and oil and make bread for the prophet Elijah. Verse 15 says “ and she went and did…” Such obedience was fueled by faith.

Paul said in Romans 16:26 that obedience comes from faith. The two must go hand in hand. Before we ask for a miracle, let’s ask ourselves if we are living in obedience to God’s Word. Gideon’s heroic success began with obedience. Hebrews 11 lists him in the hall of faith for all the acts he did in delivering Israel from the Midianites. But it started with 4 simple words- “and he did so.”

So the next time you play Bananagrams or Scrabble, remember that the  “i” in obedience intersects right in the middle of faith.

You will be a winner every time.

Charline Engle

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