God sees us quite differently from how we see ourselves. When He looks at each one of us He sees the potential in us, and with His help we are transformed into the mighty men and women of God that He sees. Gideon in the Old Testament and Peter in the New Testament are two such examples.
Even though at first inspection in Judges 6 we find a discouraged Gideon secretly threshing wheat from Israel’s marauding enemies, the Midianites, nevertheless, the Angel of the LORD appeared and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour!” (verse 11).
In spite of Gideon’s initial protestations, the Lord perseveres, and we witness an interesting interaction between God and man, as God reassures him, accepting his sacrifice, and commissioning him to rescue Israel out of enemy hands.
With obedience being the key ingredient that the Lord was looking for, under God’s instructions Gideon tears down his father’s idols - albeit by night, but God uses it to establish his leadership. After wisely putting fleeces out to check that it was the Lord who was speaking to him, Gideon prepares for the major battle ahead. With a reduced army in tow, the Lord detects fear in Gideon’s heart but He urges him on. Judges 7:9-11 records the words ‘If you are afraid...listen...and you will be encouraged’. Thus, Gideon is obedient to the heavenly vision.
God wrought a mighty victory over the Midianites through Gideon’s obedience – and a seemingly fearful Gideon is forever transformed and recorded in Scripture and history, as ‘a mighty man of valour’. Gideon worked with God... and became the man God said he was.
Likewise, in the New Testament, when Simon was first introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew, Jesus immediately changed his name (John 1:2). Jesus called him ‘Peter’ – the rock. God saw his potential and immediately called him into his new identity, as STRONG.
However, for Peter, as with us, this was a process. He continued to walk with Jesus day by day and saw many miracles – he was even one of the chosen three to see Jesus on the mountain top in all his glory – yet, despite this, he still denied Jesus three times. Interestingly, when Jesus warned him of the testing that was coming his way, he used his old name. ‘Simon, Simon, satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail, and when you have returned to ME, STRENGTHEN the brethren’(Luke 22:31-32). We can only strengthen others when we have been strengthened ourselves. The mediation and intercessions of Christ ensure that a desperate Peter is lovingly and wonderfully restored (John 21). The Book of Acts records that after being filled with the Holy Spirit, we see a quite different person emerging from the man that he was, to the man Jesus first saw him as.
And so it is with us. Despite our fears and weaknesses The Lord sees the potential of His children, and as we move forward in obedience at God’s command we are transformed, for ‘the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits’ (Daniel 11:32).
Today, whatever our circumstances, Jesus is reminding us “I am with you”.
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