4. Gideon: Prime Rib


Q.   What is it like when God shows up?

A.   Depends on who you are!

Have you ever noticed how many different presentations God uses in Scripture?  Sure we all know about God high and lifted up, seated on a throne, with the train of His robe filling the temple.  Good stuff.

And the still small voice which spoke to Elijah is also a cliché in our religious cultures.

Between the two bookends of the immensity of God and His strategic downsizing when speaking to a super sized prophet, we find a wide range of presentations.  Each variant tells us something about God’s relationship with that individual.

Take Gideon’s situation.  He is an army officer, the veteran of a disastrous battle where his brothers were brought home in body bags.  Clearly he came home with PTSD.  Not only that, but his theology was badly shattered because he thought he had been fighting that battle on behalf of God, and God showed no interest in their battle.

A lot of you reading this know what it is like to sincerely, absolutely, completely believe that a battle you have engaged in began with a direct call from God to you, it is righteous in the extreme, needed, timely and if you do your part, God will intervene and bring you great victory.

So . . . you did your thing and God did nothing.

And you were left holding tragedy in both hands, while your faith was left whimpering in the shadows of your shock.

That is Gideon.

Life went on without his permission.

He learned to cope with the tragedy but that was all he had the energy to do.  Faith remained comatose.

So God showed up to the loser and said, “You are my champion who is going to lead Israel to victory.”

To which Gideon quite understandably responded, “Yeah, right!”

Jesus is no stranger to Christians with emotional PTSD plus faith that is shattered.  He was up for this argument.  On the surface the discussion was about who Gideon was.  At the root the discussion really was about who Jesus was.

Jesus was winning the argument when Gideon made a desperate move.  He said, “If you are God, will you kindly sit here on a rock in the forest doing nothing for a couple or three hours while I go fix you lunch?”

God said, “Deal.”

Gideon had to catch, kill and butcher the calf, grind the wheat to make the flour to make the bread, and cook it all.  Eventually he showed up at the rock with the picnic lunch and to his relief and surprise, God-who-looked-like-a-human was still there.

Tell you what.  I have looked at this for 40 years and I still don’t get it.

I get that Gideon was scared to death to buy into another “word from the Lord” especially when that “word” had the letters “w” or “a” or “r” in it.  This I understand.

I get that God showed up without His fire and brimstone.  He looked like an ordinary Hebrew with just a touch of command presence.

But how does cooking lunch for God prove to Gideon that this brawny stranger was THE God of Israel?

I have no clue.

Sure God did a bang up miracle when Gideon came back with the food and convinced Gideon that He WAS God, but that was sure not on Gideon’s radar when He left God sitting on a rock.

So what did Gideon expect?  How would God’s reaction to prime rib au jus prove that He was God?

I still have no clue.

This is a recording.

All I know for sure is that I would not have approached the problem of positively IDing God that way.  It wouldn’t work for me.  But it did work for Gideon, and God humored him because He knew it was what Gideon needed to do.

Or put another way, God met Gideon where he was, with his PTSD, shattered faith and his deep need to cook dinner for God.

And that says more about God than it does about Gideon.

Father, we celebrate that You do not use shock and awe on people who have PTSD.  We worship You for Your willingness to engage people in their own emotional language. 

And Father, we invite You to bring to Balmoral people who need to meet You on their own terms.  Bring the ones who have served You and been devastated.  Bring the ones who have been burned by religion and walked away from You.  Bring those who have seen religion from a distance and judged You to be toxic. 

With its gift of Mercy, we feel Balmoral should be a place where the disjointed and disgusted people of the world can come and meet You in totally unique ways.  

Let each story be a celebration of Your exquisite understanding of the pathway through the minefield of their prejudices and pathologies.  

We ask You to bring the Gideons of the world to Balmoral, to let them serve You a prime rib dinner in the forest if that is what it takes, then to send them forth to liberate the captives, once they have been liberated from their past. 

Copyright October 2011 by Arthur Burk

Sapphire Leadership Group, Inc.

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14 Responses to 4. Gideon: Prime Rib

  1. Doris Chapman says:

    Just when I think I have been liberated from PTSD, I find myself on the floor again suffering a punch that hits so hard though the sender has no idea nor intention of hurting. And yet there I lay praying for understanding, not rebuke, not defensiveness, and the only one who truly does get it is the Father. In serving Him I can let go of my self pity and see Him for who He is and consequently know that he sees me the way i need to be seen and understood at that moment. Again I face the truth that there is no human who gets it, only God and I regret putting my faith once more where there is no foundation. I don’t need shock and awe, I need the gentle touch of a loving, kind Father who knows, understands and loves and forgives like no other. I am overcome.

    • Jayne says:

      Thank-you Doris. . . I have suffered a similar punch from a similar sender. I’m getting up now from a season of overwhelm.

    • Narola Grady says:

      Doris, I want to thank you too for your honesty. I have a year old wound that isn’t quite so raw anymore. But it left me reeling for a long time. Your words sum up what I need from the Father. So glad that I have a sister in Christ who understands.

      • dorisann says:

        I almost didn’t remember that post from two years ago. Isn’t it awesome that Good can use something from so long ago to bless a person now. There is no time in heaven. My journey continues to be more and more pain free. I bless you Norola with continued peace and healing as Father presses in to love you and redeem the hurt, bringing you to a place of overcoming grace and power., He is able!

  2. Rosa says:

    This is one of my favorite posts of yours. That part “God met Gideon where he was”… You have a way of writing that makes biblical characters seem so ….human.

  3. I guess I except the meal part better and easier than I do that YHWH appeared to him. This was not the Capt. of the Lords Host as with Joshua this was (or it seems to read) Father, God, not an preincarnate Jesus. Why does Moses only see the hind parts/ back side of God and Gideon speaking to HIM face to face asks Him to wait and brings HIM food/offering. In Vs. 12 it is the Angle of the Lord and this the word adown – master, king, lord but in Vs. 14 it changes to Yahweh/Yehovah the LORD, and all through vs. 19 it is this (Father God) and then in Vs. 20 it is again the Angel of the Lord…
    13 Gideon replied, ‘Excuse me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, why is all this happening to us? And where are all his miracles which our ancestors used to tell us about when they said, “Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?” But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian,’
    14 At this, Yahweh turned to him and said, ‘Go in this strength of yours, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you myself?’

    I am undo at “At this, Yahweh turned to him and said…” REALLY Yahweh turned and spoke to Gideon face to face?

  4. Jan Jordaan says:

    Thank you for these thoughts on Gideon!

    Have you ever read ‘A More Excellent Way’ by Henry Wright, Pleasant Valley Church, Molena?
    Has been a great help with PTSD!

    Greetings
    Jan

    • Arthur Burk says:

      Yes, Jan. Have it on my shelf.

      • Jan Jordaan says:

        Good stuff!
        I Must say beteen the ministries of the two of you, I have received freedom in THE most practical of ways by applying your bible teachings, in order to break through that ceiling which we allow Satans demons to cast over our hearts (like Gideon)!
        Thank you for not just trying to teach what youTHINK about the Word, but just to teach what is IN the Word and how to apply it, period!
        May you be blessed with more obedience…and carry on to run this race in this basic and understandable and applyable manner, you truly are a part of what Zechariah saw in Zec 1;12 through to Zec 6:15!

  5. I think I am seeing through this and what the Lord has been saying to me over the last few weeks that we need His acknowledgement of us where we are, and the acknowledgement / encouragement / recognition of others along the way – those that see with God eyes what He has put within us, even while we are in our tangled up place. I can come out of the moments I have experienced with God and feel perfectly whole, even though there is much work left to be done. And then within days, crash and burn, but still remember how He met me. Thanks, Arthur, for how He sees us through you.

  6. PeacefulLady says:

    Thank you. I kind of “get” why Gideon did this but still half-baked potato that I’ve been mulling the last few months. Thank you for understanding Gideons with PTSD, just your acknowledgement of it feels …. ? ~Irene

  7. carita boshoff says:

    Posssibly the Lord consumed the food/sacrifice with fire proving to Gideon that He was his God.
    1 Kings 18:37-38 Elijah and prophets of Baal; fire consumed the sacrifice :”…that this people may know that thou art the Lord God…”
    Gen 18: 8: the word for ‘eat’ could possibly be translated “consume by fire”
    Leviticus:9:24 “And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”
    Regardless of how God made Himself know to Gideon, the great joy in praying this for me was to know that God most certainly meets people where they are and, “then to send them forth to liberate the captives, once they have been liberated from their past.” Once again thanks for these prayers; my land is changing also!

  8. Narola Grady says:

    Yes, there was shock and awe on my part, but I also felt His deep love and tenderness in those moments……overwhelmed that He would respond to me when I was still acting out of unhealed pain.

  9. Narola Grady says:

    I was a Gideon with PTSD, especially after our son died in 1990. And I really understand this word picture, Arthur. When the Holy Spirit told me to talk to a ladies’ group three years later, my response was not nice at all. And I even threw out a challenge for Him to show up if He really wanted me to do this assignment. It was a week night. My husband was at work, and I was sitting with arms crossed on my living room couch. That’s when God showed up at my house. The air got really heavy with His presence. It scared me to death! I went down on my face to the floor. It wasn’t long before I decided to do what was asked of me. And I know His presence went with me.

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