Priscilla Shirer has become the most encouraging friend and heart sister and the way this woman wields the Word arrests me every time. If we are going to begin the cataclysmic paradigm shift to “Life is a gift” … begin to count all the gifts — then we realize each of us are gifted and these words that Priscilla has mined are utterly life-giving… Just love this woman and how she loves Him:
That’s how long Gideon’s heroic story kept me spell-bound. I would have never guessed it could.
I mean, it is only Gideon after all.
His story has been told in more Sunday school classes and expanded into more lights-camera-action, Hollywood underdog movies than most every other story in the Bible.
So, when I began, I didn’t expect to uncover much more than what I’d already read, heard or seen before. Certainly didn’t think I’d write a book on him or the lessons I’d learned while peering into his life.
But then I began.
One verse led to another. One chapter to the next. One day parlayed into a month.
And one month ballooned into a couple years before I could blink. Once I started digging in – deeply – down below the surface of the written words, down to the places where only the Holy Spirit has the mining rights to dig, I found much more than I went in looking for.
More than the well-known fleece incident.
More than the victory claimed by a small, unassuming army.
More than a timid farmer having a transformative encounter with a heavenly visitor.
There was more…much more.
And one of those uncovered treasures is . . . Gideon’s Gifts.
Then Gideon . . .prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour;
he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot and brought them out to [the angel of the Lord] under the oak, and presented them.
Whether out of mere hospitality or holy reverence, Gideon asked his guest to receive this luscious spread of traditional Hebrew food.
The Angel of the Lord.
The Malak Yahweh.
The pre-incarnate Christ.
I will remain until you return.
A stunning picture of Yahweh’s kindness toward humanity. A dramatic painting of His passionate intent to partner with frailty. A brightly illumined spotlight on His willingness to oblige mortality and accommodate fragility.
The Malak Yahweh wasn’t upset – put off by the inconvenience of the delay. He agreed to it – chose to cool his heels while Gideon prepared the gifts he wanted to present under the oak tree in Ophrah. For some reason known only in the divinely, comprehensive mind of God, He wanted to receive the gifts . . . of a mere human being.
He cared about Gideon’s gifts.
Just like He cares about yours; your time, your talent and your passions. Your gifts.
Whatever you have to give, He wants to receive it . . . .if you’re willing to prepare it.
That’s exactly where the lessons found in Gideon’s gifts begin.
There was nothing fast about this food. No deli on the corner. No Whole Foods Market nearby or Chinese take-out across the dirt road.
Gideon’s meal was “homemade” in the purest sense of the word. He killed the young goat himself, kneaded the unleavened dough for the bread, and whipped up the broth, all from scratch. And it was an extravagantly sacrificial meal given Israel’s current state of deprivation. It required time, effort, and energy to prepare His gift.
Many Christians don’t want to start here. They balk at doing the hard work involved in the preparation process. But God won’t use what we have not taken the time to diligently prepare.
Divine gift giving doesn’t stop there.
What good would Gideon’s meal have been if he’d not been willing to return to the oak tree – to bring out the meal he spent those long hours preparing and give it to the angel.
Prepared gifts cannot serve their purpose unless they are presented gifts. Gifts kept in hiding are largely useless and untapped.
Sadly, fear and insecurity often keep unsure individuals who have done their due diligence from bringing them to the forefront of service. So, they’re left holding good gifts that are not being used for God’s purposes.
But wait, there’s more.
Then the angel of the God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.”
Gideon: Ummmm. Excuse me, sir. I’ve just slaved over this exquisite meal for hours. You want me to do WHAT with it?
Yes, the angel told Gideon to release the very thing he’d so painstakingly prepared. To put it down and pour it out. Two actions that no chef – or hard working mother I know – would ever agree to.
I’m a gift giver. Enjoy it more than anything else. Seeing eyes light up and smiles erupt makes me happy.
And, when I give someone a gift, I have a definite idea of how I hope they’ll use it. In my mind, I see them enjoying the new appliance in their kitchen, or wearing that nice peach blouse they unwrapped with the gray slacks I already knew was in their closet. But, at the very least, I certainly don’t want them re-gifting it!
I think Gideon probably had a certain expectation too, after going through all that trouble to prepare such a fine meal for his heavenly visitor. But the angel didn’t lick his lips and dive into the meal as Gideon might have suspected. Instead he chose another, very strange way of accepting the gift. He told Gideon to release everything he had just prepared – to put it down and pour it out.
Releasing our gifts back to the Lord for Him to do with as He pleases is difficult and humbling—especially since we often harbor expectations of what He’ll do with them.
But Gideon’s story teaches us an important lesson: the best use of our gifts is never what we imagined. For when Gideon put down his gifts, they were met with a stunning divine display.
In one brilliant flash of miraculous light,
“the angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meal and … fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread”
And with that, an average rock became an altar and Gideon’s gifts became a sacrifice, offering an aroma of worship sweeter to God than any baked bread or lamb chop ever could.
This is what I want.
And, I suspect it’s what you want too.
There is nothing commonplace or meager about the gifts you have to give. No limit to what God can do with them to edify His body and bring glory to His own name. God can and will use them as long as you are faithful to . . .
Put them down.
Pour them out.
Priscilla Shirer is a wife and a mom first. But put a Bible in her hand and a message in her heart and you’ll see why thousands flock to her conferences and dive into her Bible Study series’ each year. The woman is anointed of God, her messages have changed my life, and the women of our country faith community here have gathered around Priscilla’s powerful studies and been powerfully transformed…
Partneringwith Lifeway Christian resources, Priscilla has authored 10 video driven studies on a myriad of Biblical characters and topics including Jonah, and Discerning God’s Voice.
Her latest (amazing!) study – Gideon: Your Weakness. God’s Strength – will release in May 2013.