Recognizing the Miraculous

“The Miraculous,” ©Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

One school day–more years ago than I’d like to admit–my fifth grade BFF misplaced her lunch.  Now if that lunch had contained a liverwurst sandwich, I’m sure that we both would have rejoiced.

However, my friend knew for a fact that a treasured Hershey’s chocolate bar nestled at the bottom of that otherwise nondescript, brown, paper bag.

For this reason, that missing sack suddenly became an enormous crisis.

When I suggested that we ask God to help us find her lunch, my friend seemed skeptical. Nevertheless, I insisted.

I saw miracles in everyday moments.

Soon, she was nibbling her PB & J,  and relishing that delectable chocolate bar.  And I thanked God again and again.

Yup. God showered grace on two 10-year-olds.  My fledgling faith launched well.

Then, life happened.

I encountered rough waters. And somewhere along the way, I lost my childlike faith.

I became consumed with the wind and waves: the necessity of earning a living, the death of a child and loved ones, the pain of cancer, the anxiety of financial difficulties, the heartbreak of interpersonal conflict…

On a grander scale, I noted tragedy in the lives of people both near and far.

And yes, as heretical as it may sound, I decided that life required so much more than chocolate.

Darkness devoured dreams:  storms raged; wars flared; terrorists rampaged; poverty grew; epidemics killed; hearts broke.  It seemed to me that miracles were reserved for children.

I suspect that is exactly how Gideon felt.  His faith journey contrasts greatly with that of the prophet, Samuel, who later led the nation of Israel.

Unlike Gideon, Samuel heard God’s call and responded with childlike faith.  Gideon, on the other hand, hesitated and questioned.

Life happens…

I get that.  I can relate to Gideon, a guy who had been beaten down by the world and his life circumstances.

More importantly, though, in Judges 6,  I read how God’s grace burst through the clouds and restored His disheartened child.

Quite frankly, Gideon initially shows very little promise.  After all, there’s no Hollywood heroism in employment as a wheat thresher.

Yet, there was a aura of mystery about Gideon. According to some Bible commentaries, Gideon didn’t follow threshing protocol.  Instead of threshing on a hillside where wind separated chaff from wheat,  Gideon worked at the base of the hill near the wine press.

Actually, the reason for this was quite simple.  Israel had been conquered by a nomadic and ruthless people known as the Midianites. The Midianites regularly pillaged the land. For Gideon, his choice was one of simple survival.

He hid because hill top work made one vulnerable.

Needless to say, he did his best to thresh wheat at the bottom of the hill. Unfortunately, hills often block wind, and this likely made threshing difficult.

Yet, despite these disadvantages, Gideon listened to fear and worked undercover.  Gideon chose the safe path, and kept his head down.  After all, that’s what you do if you want to avoid trouble.

The appearance of the Angel of the Lord must have startled Gideon.  And especially so, since the angel immediately announced, “The Lord is with you, O’ valiant warrior.”

Valiant warrior?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

I guarantee that at that moment Gideon did not feel like a mighty warrior.  He had obviously hit a low point.

Gideon initially shows very little promise.

Of course, by now, you know I am thoroughly convinced that we follow a gracious God.  But if I still carried a smidgeon of doubt about God’s patience, mercy, loving kindness and grace, it would completely dissolve in light of Gideon’s response.

Gideon’s knee jerk reaction to the Lord’s declaration?  He questioned.

“If God is with me, why are things so bad?” he wondered.

He even went so far as to suggest that God had abandoned His people.  Yet, God didn’t scold his discouraged child.

Scripture recounts, “And the Lord looked at him and said, ‘Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian.  Have I not sent you?'”

In essence, God gently told Gideon that he had not been forgotten. God created and called Gideon for a mighty purpose.

Gideon was not easily convinced.  Thus, when God asked Gideon to lead the charge against the Midianites, Gideon’s fears reached a crescendo.  And Gideon dared to test God.

It was an absolutely audacious move on Gideon’s part.  I know this to be so because Christ resisted Satan’s temptation in the desert by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13: “You shall not put to the test the Lord your God.”

Gideon had stepped over the line. But God’s grace prevailed. Not once, but twice.  And the concept of “putting out a fleece” was born.

What is striking to me, though, is not Gideon’s lack of faith, but rather God’s patience. Abba quietly restored Gideon’s trust and hope.

This once fearful man left the valley of doubt and despair behind, and led a small military raid of 300 men against a vast number of Midianites.

Gideon stepped over the line. But God’s grace prevailed.

The odds seemed stacked against Gideon.  The dream appeared too big.

God, however, had an incredible miracle in mind. He instructed Gideon to lead a night attack.  The 300 were to carry trumpets and to place torches under clay pitchers.

In obedience, the Israelis surrounded the Midianites, and on Gideon’s command, the Israeli warriors smashed their pitchers, blew trumpets, and shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

Light suddenly broke through the darkness.  Chaos reigned in the Midianite camp.  And even though in human terms, Gideon didn’t stand a fighting chance, Israel won a miraculous victory.

Yes, I’m truly thankful that our gracious God chose to use Gideon–the discouraged and fearful follower.

Indeed,  because of Gideon,  I am confident that Abba also extends a patient and merciful hand to lift you and me from the fog of fear and the dusk of discouragement.

Grace speaks loud and clear: “Go in this your strength…Have I not sent you?”

In response, I cry out to God. Suddenly, the Light of the World breaks through darkness.

And with renewed hope and trust, I look up… just in time to spot God’s miracle.

“Why are you sunk down, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence,”

~Psalm 42:5

45 thoughts on “Recognizing the Miraculous

  1. Hi Lynn, you do an excellent intertwining your personal story with that of the Bible episodes you choose to write about. Your past trials, great ones at that, certainly have served to give you keen insight and wisdom. What brought this post home to me was your comment: “What is striking to me, though, is not Gideon’s lack of faith, but rather God’s patience. Abba quietly restored Gideon’s trust and hope.”

    For those who have walked with God and tested Him a bit too often, these words are indeed balm for our souls!

    Thank you for the wonderful words, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David, you are truly a wise and thoughtful friend! I’m so glad that I met you. Your encouragement buoys me and helps make the writing journey so much lighter. Sometimes, as you well know, writing can seem so solitary. Your keen understanding of the process and the “blood, sweat and tears” encourages me to keep plodding even when the path is steep. I can’t thank you enough for your thoughtful, genuine and specific comments. You truly have the gift of encouragement in addition to your extraordinary talent as a writer! God bless you, my kind brother in the Lord!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I am so very glad, Robert! To share what God teaches me through my art is the primary reason that I blog. My best friend is to blame, actually. Ha! Anyway, it means the world to me that you should say that. Thank you with all my heart! God bless you greatly!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You, like me, look for miracles in the everyday things. When we do that, we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest himself to us. Miracles are everywhere. We just have to look for them. Great post and amazing painting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Yes, I’m truly thankful that our gracious God chose to use Gideon–the discouraged and fearful follower”
    I really like this because I am Gideon, full of fear and forever asking God for a sign. But God is so good as you have said in your post. I am very thankful for His patience, mercy and that he is our father who knows us!.
    Thanks for Posting Lynn and beautiful painting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I’m right there with you Evad. Life can overwhelm at times and the waves look enormous! I’m glad God overlooks my fear and calls me in spite of myself! He truly gives me grace again and again. Thank you for your thoughtful and genuine words, Evad. It’s so encouraging to know that others walk the same paths. God bless you big time!

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  4. Judges 6:12
    And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour

    That verse always amuses me, as poor Gideon was so scared he was trying to thresh his wheat down in the grape press. God, however, new what He could make Gideon into.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
    28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
    29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:27-29

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynn, this post is so encouraging and a great reminder that God always extends grace; especially when we feel so weak and discouraged. To think He can use us just as we are…Wow! Your words are a special blessing for today! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And thank you, Doris! Your thoughtful comment is a special blessing in my life today since I felt particularly overwhelmed by my workload this past week. I had to completely depend on Abba for this post and here you are—writing such encouragment in response to the post. God is amazing. It seems God especially wished for me to know that He carried me. Thank you with all my heart for takng the time to leave me such a thoughtful and caring comment. You are a wonderful friend and truly a blessing. God bless you greatly!

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  7. Thank you for such precious encouragement, Lynn. I can always identify with Gideon and his doubts and fears that God would be with him and use him. Your painting reminds me of Jesus on the water and Peter sinking because he took his eyes off Jesus and looked instead at the storm around him. I love that story, too. God’s patience with us is endless, isn’t it? He still keeps drawing us with the cords of His love. I’m so sorry you have had so many heartbreaks in your life. I knew there was something behind the depth of your insight and encouragement in your posts and paintings. God teaches us deeper lessons through the storms of life, doesn’t He? Blessings, love, and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! That is so true, dear Trudy! While I wouldn’t wish to walk those paths again nor would I wish them on anyone else, I am thankful for the way Abba uses the stormy seas to deepen my relationship with Him. That part is incomparable and invaluable… and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thank you so much for your kind understanding words… You are truly a kindred spirit! And I am so grateful to be able to read your blog and share this faith journey with you! God bless you beyond all that you can imagine! ❤ and huge hugs back to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey, another Gideon post 🙂 this is so awesome.

    I completely agree with you about God’s patience! It is incredible to me what God did for Gideon. And it wasn’t even about the signs God gave him, that wasn’t enough for Gideon, he had to overhear his enemy’s fear first to believe in God. You are certainly right, God has the patience to bear with us, and to prod us along the way, gently.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s hard to keep my attention in this push and go world, but your posts always prove to keep me reading till they very end. I’m glad you found that chocolate bar, and that God gives us sweet blessings! 😉 Beautiful, absolutely beautiful image, and amazing thoughts!

    Like

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