Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gideon and St Joseph

OK, so yesterday Gideon came to me in the shower. It was slightly less surprising than meeting an angel while hiding in a wine press (Judges 6), but still. The man is totally the underdog and the angel says get on up and take on an enemy whose numbers amount to a plague of locusts or Bieber fans. He's a coward, a rookie, low man on the Asherah-pole - what I've fondly referred to myself as an Omega-male. Sorry, that's lower-case omega. low-voltage. flat-line.

And, naturally, Gideon is one of these post-enlightenment thinkers who wishes for empirical proof before he gallops off into certain death on the words of a hallucination. *gallops: he might have had a goat. So he sets up his experiment - get the wool wet while the ground is dry.  Make things scientifically impossible for God, so you can excuse yourself from paying attention to this spiritual whimsy of his. Then it happens. OK, that's not quite enough God, now I need to know that wasn't a fluke. Wool dry, ground wet. Next morning: check and double check. Your laws of science are taken care of, now you have no reason to shirk.

Gideon first is sent within his family, to tear down idols to Baal and Asherah. This does not make him popular. But he gets it done. His boldness gets noticed, next thing you know he has 30,000 men! Not bad. Not the enemies' numbers, but a decent showing.

And what happens?

God continues the whole 'are you really there?' sign language - precisely because Gideon has demonstrated rather imperfect faith. God says, "send 29,700 of your men home" - 99%! That's right, God was the first one to tell the 99% to pack up their tents and go home.

When tested, God plays the game way beyond what Gideon's comfortable with - because he knows Gideon will forget how dependent he was on God when he was cowering in the wine press.  Emphasis on "play" - God says, 'you like signs? well, then I'm going to keep on giving them to you.' When God conquers Israel's enemies with a measly 300 (ha! take that, Sparta - losers!) he definitely reveals Gideon as the omega-person on the battlefield, trying to give Gideon the enduring gift of humility.

Cut to me in the shower. EEEEKK! No, I'm fine, ain't nobody got time fo' vlogging in da shower.

All year, we have been asking God, show us what you want us to do. And he only ever says to trust him.

It's an uncomfortable fit, our will and trust. But it boils down to: we make the decision to follow God's will, but it is GOD who accomplishes it. When we choose to dream, to apply, to accept a job, to buy/sell/rent/rent-out a house, we lay down 'our will be done' and take up 'thy will be done' - as Rohr says, "thy kingdom come - my kingdom GO!"

Today one of three possibilities will become clear. Or something totally different. The wool will be one thing, the ground another.

My job is to tear down idols, keep listening, resist the temptation to test.

After victory, Gideon keeps Israel faithful - sort of. Their enemies don't trouble them, but Gideon sets up an 'ephod' - an oracle, that becomes 'a snare to his family'. We just can't resist peppering God with all the unimportant questions - are you really there? give me the answer I seek! - when victory lies in trusting, listening, following orders.

St. Joseph, pray for us. Gideon, Judge of Israel, pray for us.