Monday, October 24, 2011

Depending on a Fleece?

     In talking with friends about their life circumstances, I often hear them tell me that they are waiting on God's direction.  Rather than searching in the Scriptures and praying to find His will, they depend on putting out a fleece to give them the go ahead for their plans.  While this method may have worked for Gideon in one particular instance, this does not mean this is the way we are to establish a plan of action.
Glenn standing at the open door to Lincoln
Cathedral in Lincoln, England
     Gideon's story as told in Judges chapter 6 describes a young man who was called by God to deliver Israel from the Midianites.  The people of Israel had sinned and turned away from God.  Their cry to God was heard, and the Lord sent an angel to call Gideon to the task of saving the people.   This young man had a hard time believing this call.  He was filled with doubts about how he could possibly deliver his people.  In verse 16, the Lord spoke to Him:  "But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man."  Still, Gideon needed something more.  Verse 17 reads:  "And he said to Him, If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me."  The angel granted his request.  When Gideon returned with food, the angel touted it with his staff and all the food was consumed by fire.  With that evidence, Gideon believed he had heard from God.
     Even though God was with him, Gideon still harbored doubts.  So again, he set out a test as recorded in verses 36-40.  He laid out a fleece on the ground and asked the Lord to make the fleece wet and the ground dry around it if, indeed, he was to save Israel.  When he arose the next day, the fleece was wet and the ground was dry.  This, however, was still not enough for Gideon.  He asked God for one more sign.  He put the fleece out again and asked the Lord to allow the ground to be wet with dew but the fleece to be dry if he was to deliver Israel.  Once more, the Lord answered Gideon through this sign.  To Gideon's credit, he did believe God and obeyed him defeating the Midianites with only three hundred men thus glorifying the Lord before the people of Israel.
     While this methodology of laying out a fleece worked for Gideon, does this mean we are supposed to use this method ourselves every time we have doubts about our direction in business, life or spiritual matters?  According to our Lord during His temptation in the wilderness, He said:  "....Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test'" (Jesus quoted Deut. 6:16).  Certainly in Gideon's situation, God demonstrated great patience with this man who was filled with doubts, but this is not to be the norm in our dealings with God.
An ancient closed door in the Cathedral of Lincoln
in Lincoln England.
      Some people wait for "open doors" or "closed ones" before they will move on a decision.  In fact, it almost seems as though they are holding out for that magic sign that will give them the go ahead.  However, when we depend on circumstances to line up, we could be sorely disappointed.  Where is the faith in that?  Rather than yielding to Christ's Lordship in our life, it is as though we are making a deal with Him.  I will do this if you do this.  Since we were bought with a price, we are no longer our own.  Therefore, we need to put away the idea of putting out a fleece before we go forward in our lives for several reasons.  First, God has given us a good mind with which we can reach decisions.  Second, He has given us His Word to read and bolster our confidence in Him.  Third, there is no roadblock in talking directly to our heavenly Father.  We can come to Him at all times confident that He will answer.  Finally, any decision we make is not set in cement.  That is, we can make a course correction at any step of the way.  It is my belief that people use the excuse of a fleece to delay any action at all.  Perhaps they are afraid of failure, defeat, or embarrassment if they make the wrong move.  Even if we miss the correct turn in the road, God is able to use this to bring us valuable lessons and turn it for good in our lives.
     Just because Gideon used a fleece does not mean this is a doctrinal approach to finding God's will for our lives.  We have to be careful of taking a scripture and running with it as though it was the only way to know His direction.  Knowing that we have God's Word, prayer and Christian brothers/sisters who can affirm us in our decisions should be more than enough to guide our steps.  Circumstances can change radically from day to day, but God's Word stands forever.  As a result, we need to put away that fleece and put our faith in God who knows our beginning and our end.  Selah!
A garden inside the Castle of Lincoln in Lincoln, England

I welcome your comments and insights here.  How has God guided you in your decision making?

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