LONELINESS

by A. Gene Veal

Transcribed and edited

by Lynn Margason

from the cd series
Dealing with Loneliness

The Greeting

Ruth 2:4 Now behold Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, may the LORD be with you, and they said to him, may the LORD bless you.

That is how the ancient Israelites greeted one another. I suppose you could say in some respects it is equivalent to what we mean when we say, have a good day, but they were saying something that contained all their faith in one sentence. When they met each other they raised their hands in blessing and said, May the LORD be with you. And the response to that is, and may the LORD bless you. In so saying, they spoke to each other in a way based on Gods revelation of His covenant with His people that had been given at Mt. Sinai.

I want us to really understand that. We are dealing with how to be made whole in our inmost being, in our mind and in our emotions. This blessing which every Israelite communicated to every other Israelite whenever they met, contains within it healing for our inmost person. But, when they said, may the LORD be with you, they were not making the general statement that God is omnipresent and because He is everywhere, He is with you. They were saying something far greater than that. They were implying a special relationship; the LORD who is indeed everywhere, is in a special sense with you. When I say, may the LORD be with you, I am indicating that He is for you. He is on your side. He is with you in the sense that He is actively seeking your highest and your best. He wants you to come to your fullest potential as a human being. He is seeking to bring us to completion as human beings. He is with us to bless us. God loves us in unconditional, infinite love. Now, Im speaking of us as Christians. Christians are the ones that experience the unconditional love of God. He is declaring our special ness; He is saying, My love comes to seek your best; in favoring you I am pouring out upon you all that I AM.

“With” You

The LORD be with you. We use a similar expression. If you tell me of a special cause you are pursuing, I may say, Im with you. I dont mean Im walking alongside you; I mean I will place at your disposal all of my talents, all of my assets, any strengths I have, and whatever wisdom I have that may be a help to you in your cause. I am standing behind you. Anything I can do to supply you out of my own resources, I will do. So, in saying, may the LORD be with you, I mean all the strength of God, all His wisdom, all His infinite love be with you.

Israel had a unique relationship with God; they had a blood covenant relationship. For God to state that I am with you was a statement of that covenant. God said He has joined Himself with His people; He is one with them. He has bonded Himself, by blood, to this people. He said this to them in Deuteronomy. He promised, I will never leave you or forsake you.

Now, notice the order of the Hebrew greeting. It said, may the LORD be with you. It didnt say, may you be with the LORD. If the LORD isnt with us, then there is no hope of us being with the LORD. You are in a covenant relationship to God, not because you thought it would be a good idea; but because God in His infinite love took the initiative. He loved you when you didnt love Him. He came to save you when you didnt even ask Him to pursue you. You received pardon out of His hand, not because of some urge you had to be close to God. Always keep in mind that God comes to us first. Faith does not buy anything from God. Faith is not the currency of the Kingdom of God. Faith is a response. God takes the initiative and I respond and say, thank You. If God does not take the initiative, I have nothing to respond to and faith does not exist. So the LORD be with you, is saying, He who has made the covenant and has taken the initiative to be with you; He who in His great love for you came to you, is with you. May you enjoy that. Thats a lot better than saying, hello, dont you think?

You probably know the blessing that was placed upon Israel every morning and every evening. The priest would stand beside the altar and raise his hands upon Israel and say, The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. You know what a shining face means? Its a smile. When a face is shining; it is smiling. So, he is saying, may the smile of God, the delight of God, be upon you and be gracious to you.

May the LORD lift up His countenance upon you. Thats a nice expression in Hebrew. If I were looking through a crowd of people, lets say Im speaking to an auditorium full of people and my eyes suddenly light on you. I see you. You nod at me. Thats what it means. God has picked you out of the crowd. You are His in a very special way. In a special sense may the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Israel had the presence of God; the smile of God; the nod of God; the graciousness of God; the peace of God. That was the blessing. God said, I give you My presence by My initiative; I know you dont deserve it. Dont think I am rewarding you. I do this for you because of Who I AM. I AM blessing you.

And so when they said, may the LORD be with you, may you know the covenant today. They werent saying, we believe the covenant because weve read the book of Deuteronomy and we know from it that we are people who are in covenant with God. No, this is a dynamic and vital doctrine. I cant state this strongly enough. The dynamic, vital presence of our covenant God is actually with you. It is doctrine, but it is doctrine thats alive. Our God, the Creator, is with us. It is a term God used when He entered into covenant with Abraham. Abraham was called the friend of God, the intimate of God. Gods friend: thats the ultimate of intimacy. Weve entered into a real union; its not just that we believe some long series of words. Weve entered into a vital closeness, a presence with God.

A Comparison

Other humans can only contact us at a physical level, or sometimes on a mental or emotional level. You can be in a crowd of people and be alone. Its tragic, but you know as well as I do, you can be in a marriage and be totally alone. Two bodies living beside each other, but no contact, makes for an awful aloneness. But, when we say, the LORD be with you, you have the uncreated Spirit, the LORD, with you, your real self. God says, I am with you, closer than any human being can ever be. This blessing the Israelites gave to one another was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. Everything that they anticipated, Jesus fulfilled. You remember that Isaiah said that One is Coming, born of a Virgin and you shall call his name Emmanuel? Well, that means the God who was with them in covenant, was going to actually come, take on flesh, become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. And in His death and resurrection we have been pardoned and we have been brought into the family of God.

Then, the grand finale of the gospel is that He sent the Holy Spirit who is the living presence of Christ here and now. We couldnt be closer to God. He is beside us physically, but He is more than that; He is inside of us because our bodies have been made the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is His closeness that fills our essential self. We are the joy of God. May the LORD be with you in that most ultimate sense. By a bold act of faith I declare over you, my brother, and you, my sister, that by Gods initiative of love, may you know this immediate presence with Him: His closest possible Presence with you by His Spirit.

Many times a person does not have that sense that the LORD is with them. You always find attendant to that lack of awareness: confusion, loneliness, fear, no focus in life, despair, hopelessness, the list goes on.

The Reality

So, between sincerity in saying, the LORD be with you, and questioning whether He IS with you, there lies a Grand Canyon. If you know the LORD is with you, then you have hope. You have faith; you have strength; you have wisdom; you can walk into any situation. If you doubt that, then youre lonely, confused, fearful, failing because you are without the essentials of living.

If we dont know God is with us we have every evidence of our world falling apart. We find every reason to believe that the whole thing is curtains or apocalypse now. But, if I know the LORD is with me, I dont need to know anything else. When Israel reached Kadesh-barnea, the gateway of the land which was the reason they had left Egypt, balked. The reason they didnt go in, was because God was not in their consideration. They did not have a sense God was with them. They were a people who were overwhelmed with fear; they panicked, they cried with loud wailings. They wailed all night long. They were full of self-pity. They were imagining vividly how they were all going to be killed, because they didnt see God was with them. Caleb stood up and said, surely God is with us, we can go in and do as He says. What was lacking in their perspective was all in that one phrase.

Loneliness

If you understand that God is with you, you have life by the tail. Why do I say that this one phrase, given backwards and forwards throughout scripture when Israelites met, is the secret of wholeness? Because one of the greatest problems we face today, especially in America, is loneliness. Our congregations have some very lonely people in them. It would be a very strange congregation if this were not true.

In our day and time there are so many people who know the loneliness of being divorced. Theres bound to be someone reading this who knows that experience. You know the loneliness of having been rejected by another human being, and youve seen the death of a grand dream, and you dwell in loneliness and walk through an empty house, or empty apartment, feeling the echo of your own presence and knowing there is no one else there.

Possibly someone reading this is living with someone, but youre not married. I dont know if you realize this, but that can be the loneliest existence. You live with someone who refuses to commit to you, which is basically saying, when you get old and sick Ill be gone; I dont want to tie myself to you. The world today is filled with this kind of relationships. There are others of you who are lonely because you are single and you long for a mate.

Then some of you are lonely because you have experienced the death of a spouse. Your house is empty and the old restaurants where you used to eat together, and the different things you used to do together, are painful reminders. This kind of loneliness is sorrow too deep for others to understand.

And it is possible to have trouble in your life that even your spouse cannot comprehend. Its too heavy; the burden is too great. People come along and say they understand and you want to punch them, because you think it is insanity for them to say they can understand your pain. They cant understand.

Have you ever been lonely in failure? It could be in a business venture; it could be in an immoral experience. If you go bankrupt your friends look at you as a leper and walk away. When the news of your failure gets out, it seems like the whole world knows about it, and you are cast into loneliness, loneliness in dire stress, with no one to give you advice and wisdom.

Jehoshaphat

Remember Jehoshaphat? His crisis came when he had sent most of his army away to a distant outpost and once they were gone it seemed that every enemy had gotten his address. He had only a skeleton force. He was the CEO of Jerusalem; his decisions would affect all within the city. When the news came across his desk, telling him of the invading forces, Jehoshaphat was afraid. He was alone. There was nobody he could turn to.

Remember when Sennacherib came to the gates of Jerusalem and they handed Hezekiah his letter? The letter said, basically, youre dead meat, Hezekiah. It pointed out to him that every confident leader in the past who said their god would protect them, was long dead. Hezekiah was alone. When youre the CEO, the buck stops with you.

Lonely at the Top

You can even be lonely in success. There are not too many people at the top and they are usually in competition. Its lonely up there. Did you know that one of the loneliest places on earth is a pulpit? Those of you that aspire to ministry, and those who are in ministry, can get the idea it is the loneliest place on earth, because it is so difficult to make special friends. I counsel pastors wives. Who can a pastors wife turn to? She cant turn to her pastor; he is her husband. She cant turn to the people. Where does she go? As I counsel these pastors wives I see many healings take place. But, where do pastors go? They cant turn to their wife; they cant turn to the people. Where do they go? For them to have real relationships with people is difficult, thats just the way it is, it goes with the territory.

As I walk into this new century, it seems like the cries of the lonely are what I am hearing more and more. Lonely people come into the church thinking surely someone is there who can take away their loneliness. Although it helps to be in a body of believers, still they are lonely. They become part of a crowd, but they are lonely.

How Do People Cope?

So, how do people cope with loneliness in this Twenty-first century? They fill their atmosphere with television, radio, noise they scream at each other. They dont want quiet time to think about how lonely they are. A prison chaplain once told me that in the prisons of our land when curfew time comes for turning off the radios and televisions, if there is going to be a suicide that night, it will happen in that first ten minutes of silence. When there is silence we have to face that we are alone.

The crazy thing is, we believe that there is some human being out there that can solve the problem of our loneliness; we really believe there is some human being destined to be our refuge and strength and very present help in times of trouble. There are married people who believe that if they could only get out of their present marriage and be single again, they could find the right person, the one they should have found in the first place. At the same time the singles are looking at those who are married thinking they would not be lonely if they had the bliss that those married people have. Arent we a mess?

Psychiatrists have said every human being needs one essential friend; one they can be intimate with and expose their whole heart to and know in so doing that what they reveal about themselves will not turn up in the National Inquirer. They need a friend they can be absolutely honest with. I agree with that. But, human beings can only go with you so far. And anyway, they are not always there. Usually when I need a friend they are somewhere else: in some other state or some other town or it is the middle of the night.

You Are A Dangerous Person

It is always a problem whenever we try to fill our deepest needs with created things. We try to fill these deepest needs with food, with drink, with sex, with clothes, and with people. The fact is, our deepest need is for the uncreated Person. We were created for an infinite Companion. There is no human being that can fill that role.

I am not safe around people until I have met my deepest need in the Uncreated. If I am still looking for somebody to fill the emptiness of my life and Im lonely and I get with you, Im going to suck the life out of you trying to get you to fill my need. You see Im a dangerous person to be around in that condition. It is the same as going into a grocery store when youre starving; youre dangerous. You are going to buy stuff you shouldnt buy. If Im lonely and you put me among human beings, if I dont understand what Im really looking for is the Uncreated person to fill my deepest needs, then Im going to mess up your life while Im messing up my own.

Weve got this hunger inside of us, so what do we do? We stuff ourselves with food as if that were going to answer the problem. Isnt that ridiculous? Jesus said, I am the bread of life. We pour liquid down our throats. Jesus said, Ill give you the water of life. We think we can fill an uncreated need with created stuff. We cant.

Created That Way

When we speak of God creating mankind, we tend to say God created the first man, but really that first man was mankind. When God made Eve, He didnt start with a heap of dust over there, he took Eve out of Adam. She was already there. It says He took a side of Adam. The word in the Hebrew would also apply if I said, theres a side of me that youve never met. God took the female side of Adam and made Eve.

I dont know what Adam was like. He wasnt male. He was Mankind. He was male and female. He was the two of them in one. Why did God do that? I believe that the first three chapters of Genesis are so important. Whenever He created rabbits, there was Mr. Rabbit and Mrs. Rabbit. It wasnt a he/she rabbit; there were two rabbits. Rabbits looked at each other and they were fulfilled in their rabbitness. That was it.

But, not with Adam. There were two of all the other animals, but when it came to man, there was only one. What on earth was God doing? Wouldnt Adam be lonely? Shall I tell you why? Every creature that God made, He made with a mate. When He made Mankind, He made mankind in such a fashion that mankind had to understand that God is his mate. And it was only when mankind knew his first intercourse was with his Creator, then God said, it is not good that you be alone. And so He split them. He took the female side out. Mankind was only allowed to find the fulfillment in another human being when he had learned the prime fulfillment is in our God. Do you see that?

Doomed To Loneliness?

Thats the blueprint. Were not talking about a good idea; this is how we work. If I do not spend my time in relationship with God, Im not going to function. Im going to be lonely, along with a lot of other things. Loneliness will come whether I am with other people or not, if I am not in fellowship with God. It is right to desire human friendship; God Himself has said it is not good for us to be alone. But, He said that only after it was established that our deepest need can only be fulfilled in Him.

It was after the fall of man, when mankind turned away from God to find fulfillment in each other, that chaos came into the world. Because man apart from God doesnt work properly. He only functions when he has first and foremost the knowledge that God is with him.

Give Me Somebody!

Remember Moses? When God gave him his commission to bring Israel out of Egypt, Moses almost fell apart. He said, I cant do that. Youve got to give me somebody to help me. So, the LORD said, your brother, Aaron, is on his way. Moses relaxed and thought, good, Aaron is coming. Of course, Aaron was hardly what Moses had had in mind; in many ways Aaron was a pain from day one, but Moses quickly learned that it was the Presence of God that made things happen, not Aaron. Aaron was there, but he didnt really amount to much. You remember a while later, in the wilderness, Moses told God, if you dont come with us, we wont go. Moses had learned that it wasnt another human being he needed, it was God.

Now, if you understand that, can you understand this? It is very possible to be alone, but not lonely. It is possible to have no human beings around and not be lonely, because the prime relationship we have is with God. Remember John 16:32, says, the hour has come when you will be scattered each to his own home to leave me alone. And yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.

Jehoshaphat, the one we spoke of, who was alone with great stress and decision, spoke some of the most beautiful words in the Old Testament. Looking to God he said, “We do not know what to do. But our eyes are on You.” I love what Hezekiah did. He took that nasty letter Sennacherib had written, into the temple, the house of the LORD, the house of his best friend, and he laid the letter before the LORD and said, read it. He went to his chief advisor, the LORD who was with him. And Hezekiah received direction.

When Everyone Deserts You

You know only too well Psalm 23, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. When Paul was preaching in Corinth it seemed like nobody was listening to him. He was ready to quit, to walk away. He tells us later that the LORD stood by him and said, do not be afraid, do not be silent, for I am with you. Go on speaking. Youre not speaking to the crowd; youre speaking because Im with you. Then one of the most tragic of scriptures, II Timothy 4:16 tells us that in Pauls first defense, when he stood before Nero, being tried for his life because he was a Christian, Paul said no one supported him. Everybody deserted him. Can you feel that? Paul the Apostle was being tried and every Christian in Rome ran for their lives thinking if I am associated with him, Ill be thrown to the lions. Im sorry Paul; youre on your own. Paul said everybody deserted him, but he said, The LORD stood with me and strengthened me. Those were among Pauls last recorded words, God stood with me before the courts of Rome.

Joseph’s Story

One of the most fantastic stories in the Old Testament is Josephs. Our album titled A SingleVISION Lifestyle tells the story of Joseph. Joseph knew God. Joseph was maybe seventeen or eighteen years old when he was brutally rejected by his brothers. The nearest equivalent to what they did with him would be slave trading. Joseph was captured by his own brothers and sold into Egypt to be a slave. He found himself in the house of Potiphar, the Egyptian official. He hardly spoke the language; he picked it up as he went along. You talk about lonely? The kid had never left home before! Here he is in this lonely place. Then to this lonely boy comes this woman, wife of Potiphar, with perfume and an invitation into her bed. This kid is lonely, hes been hurt, hes been rejected. Hes a slave which means that in the eyes of everybody hes a non-human. Hear this, this seductive woman is telling him that in her eyes, hes a hunk! She wants him! He is Mr. VIP. And he said, no. How did he say no?

Just immediately before that happened the scripture said, and the LORD was with Joseph. Thats why Joseph responds to the woman as he does. He is not turned on, she has not overwhelmed him, and hes talking to her calmly, giving her reasons why he cant do it. He sums up the whole lot by saying, I cant sin against God. He was showing God he could feel His Presence. He knew God was with him. He could feel the womans presence, too, but He could feel Gods presence more intensely than hers. So, in essence he told her Gods Presence mattered more to him than she did. He had more with God than she could give me. That illustrates what Im saying here. When I say, the LORD is with you, I mean it is His Presence that swallows up loneliness.

The Holy Spirit

You may be alone, but His Presence so swallows up the loneliness of being alone that even when temptations particular to the lonely come, His Presence with you is stronger. Do you understand what Im saying? Those of you who have great difficulty with pornography, be present to God. Get our album on Being Present to God. Be present to God and be aware of Gods Presence with you. He will never leave you.

You remember the great benediction of the New Testament? The Grace of the LORD Jesus Christ, the love of God of Our Father, and the fellowship, the intimacy of the Presence of the Holy Spirit, be with you. Much of what Im saying here does not make sense outside of the relationship of the Holy Spirit. You are going nowhere without the grace that was revealed in Jesus. That grace revealed in Jesus, in turn reveals to us the love of God. But, all of that is just beautiful theory unless the Holy Spirit makes it reality.

Im talking about a Presence in our life that is more real than our loneliness. Thats not theory; you dont read it in a book; God has to make that known to you. He does that by the Holy Spirit. Hes filling you even now. God is here, in the person of the Holy Spirit, speaking to you through these words. Offer your loneliness to the God Who is with you. I didnt say bombard heaven with pleas He will take away the loneliness.

Obsessive?

Let me say this very honestly. I speak from my own experience. Loneliness can become an obsession. You can find yourself grossly exaggerating your loneliness until you feel youre the only person on the planet who is lonely. Isnt that true? Probably 50 per cent of the lonely ones in our church believe they are the only ones that are lonely. Thats just the way it works. Loneliness can become an obsession with self. Poor me, Im lonely, I dont have friends. I look enviously at others to see if they have love for me today. I turn to God and pray, send someone to love me. Me, me me!

Instead, we should deliberately turn our eyes away from our loneliness and offer it to God and say, what do You want to do with it? You see the difference? Stop sitting in the corner lamenting, Im alone, Im alone, Im alone. What Im suggesting is that God has a reason for this loneliness you are experiencing. Give it to Him. See what He wants to do with it. It could be that there is a purpose to be worked out, as you find your meaning in God, your loneliness is swallowed up in a whole new focus. When you realize that the reason for your very existence is to find the companionship of God, then take your loneliness to Him and offer it to Him and ask, what do you want to do with this? Im giving it to You.

Paul in Jail

There is a place in Philippians I want to mention. Paul was in jail because of his Christianity. He had a hard time with his stay there: he was weary, he was beat, and his friends had left him for the most part. He was in the dungeon. He wrote to the Philippians. He said, in essence, he couldnt make up his mind. He said, when I think about where I am going to be going, you know what I have a desire for? Id like to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

Have you ever wondered if maybe, Paul was saying, I would just like for this to end? Im alone; nobody cares. And what a marvelous way to end it all, just tell Nero where to go, tell him Im a Christian, that Jesus is LORD and then they can just chop off my head. Ill be a martyr then; Ill just go be with Jesus. Thats far better than this.

Have you ever felt like that? Tired of being alone; tired of trying to make something happen and nobody cares? Thinking it would be better to just depart and be with Christ? But, you know what Paul did? He took his loneliness and gave it God. He said, I think Ill stick around for your sake. I dont live because it makes me happy. I live life for Him. To live is Christ. And you know what? When for you “to live is Christ,” youll have joy. If youre looking for happiness, youll never find it; if you pursue peace and prosperity and health, youll never find it. But when you offer your life to God and say I live unto you, youll have joy. Joy will dog your heals. Peace will wrap around you. There will be wholeness in your mind and emotions and even the cells of your body.

What to do?

Offer your loneliness to God. Dont fight it. Dont sit in the corner and hate it. Dont scream at God because of it. Say, God, Youre in this. You fill every square millimeter of this room and You are inside me; Im in You and Youre in me. And Youre hearing what Im calling loneliness. What do you want me to do? Here I am. Make this loneliness the arena of whatever you want to do with it. Im here. I present myself to you.

This is what happens. When you are lonely, you move from being alone to realizing the Presence of God. You can call that solitude. Im alone in Gods Presence. I turn that into prayer, an offering to God. And you will find yourself filled, then thrust forth to bless others. Paul said, out of his own deep experience, the comfort that I received from God is what I comfort you with, now. He had become strong as a man. You will become strong as a man, as a woman, because you will have found the fulfillment of your deepest need in a relationship with God. He comforts you; He strengthens you. And then you share it with others and you will have forgotten your loneliness by then.

And along with surrendering the loneliness, would you also please surrender the script youve written for your life? You know how it is. You have this absolute, ironclad idea of how your loneliness is going to end. Youve scripted it. Well, believe me, you dont know. While you have an agenda that you keep on insisting that God keep to, you are only increasing your loneliness. Rather, surrender the agenda, surrender the script, and live by Gods agenda, which is always interesting because you never know what it is. That is spontaneous living. You take no thought for tomorrow. You dont go off on excursions into tomorrow. Live by the moment; arise every morning; and adapt to Gods agenda and youll see Him working out His purpose in your life.

Gideon

The Bible does give us some practical examples to consider. Weve looked at Joseph and Pauls response to loneliness. How about this one?

Judges 6:11 Then the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.

Then Gideon said to him, O my Lord, if the LORD is with us why then has all this happened to us, and where are all His mercies which our fathers told us about, saying, did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? But, now the LORD has abandoned us, and given us into the hand of Midian. 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? And he said to him, O Lord, how shalt I deliver Israel? Behold my family is the least in Manasseh and Im the youngest in my fathers house. But, the Lord said to him, surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.

The Scene

Remember Gideon? Poor Gideon, I feel sorry for him in a sense. I can get inside his head, though. The whole nation has fallen apart and the enemy was walking all over them. Heres Gideon who was the youngest son of the smallest clan in his tribe. The only thing I can give him credit for is that he was quite creative in his fearfulness. He took the wheat into a great big barrel, a barrel big enough to put part of the congregation of your church in; it was in that barrel that they made their wine. He went into the barrel with all his wheat and he thrashed the wheat in there hoping when their enemies came, they wouldnt think of looking in the wine making vat for him.

Get the picture: he comes sneaking out of the barrel, this kid who thinks hes no good, worthless, not likely to ever amount to anything, and there sitting under a tree is a messenger from God. The messenger says, The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior. God doesnt look at us like we look at ourselves. Gideon, knows hes a covenant person, but hes about given up on that. And he says, if the LORD be with us how come all this is happening?

You can almost always figure that when you ask the question, why? of God, thats a sin. But, Gideon asked, if God is with us, why is this happening? Gideon lists everything that has gone wrong. But God never even bothers to comment on Gideons list; God doesnt get mad at Gideon for mentioning it, rather He comes straight back and says, The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior, go in this your strength. But Gideon says, Im nobody, Im not capable, I dont have any resources, and I dont have any allies. How could I ever get together an army

Surely, I am with you, God says. Thats what he needed to know and thats all he needed to know. That God was with him.

People of God

Gideons people were called the people of God because they had received a revelation of the character and nature of God. They had received a revelation of Gods unconditional love for His elect. They were the only nation which had received this revelation. That revelation came to its fullness in the coming of Jesus who we have believed upon. It began with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and it went to the people of Israel. He came first to Israel, and then in Jesus Christ He has come to us, the church. The revelation is that God loves us unconditionally, and that this God Who loves us has initiated a covenant.

In plainer English, you might say He has initiated a marriage. God married His People. God said, I love you because of Who I am and I now initiate a marriage with you. Thats the covenant. He entered into a union with them and so now He doesnt just love us, but He places His love in His people. A very real marriage takes place. God marries this people, and in the marriage the love which He has for them now enters into them and there is birthed through them His love for the world.

Just the Beginning

It is not only that God loves us, thats only the introduction of the preface of of the first volume. God loves you, now, what do we do with that? He says, I called you into covenant with me. I married you and in marriage you are united with me and I put my love inside you and then we give birth to the expression of that love in terms of behavior. We begin to reveal Gods love in what we do, our lifestyle. We begin to produce His love purposes to other people. We, in fact, become the revealers of Gods love on earth.

We become little unconditional lovers. Jesus told us that this would be how the world would know we are His disciples: “That you LOVE one another.” Christians should love one another to be obedient to Him. From the very beginning this is what the Bible shows us a functioning human being should be. A whole person. Jesus says He makes you whole. He means healthy emotionally as well as spiritually.

The word “whole” comes from the word, holy. In ancient English whole and holy were one word. Whenever I am a whole person, I am a holy person. I am completely healthy from the inside out. If I am a functioning person in this world, I am a person who loves others with the love of God. When Israel lived in the light of that revelation, when they were obeying that covenant they had a rhythm in God unlike any other; they had a strength from the Almighty no one could stand against. They were enabled from within to be who God told them to be. But, when they were ignorant of that covenant, or when they walked away from that covenant, disobeyed it, they became disoriented. They didnt know who they were anymore. They were dysfunctional. They were no longer whole people. They became sick. In their spirit and their mind and their emotions, they became lost, wandering around not knowing who they were. They became like the rest of the human race. Dysfunctional.

Baal

Just before our coming to Gideon, Israel had turned away from their covenant with God and turned to other gods as they did so many times in the Old Testament. When you read of Baal and Ashtaroth as the gods they served instead of God, we need to know what Baal means? Baal is the ultimate changing of the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to be one with God, with His love in me going through me to others. He shows me the meaning of life is shedding abroad of His love to others. Baal was the total distortion and twisting of that.

It is interesting that Satan is never original. He can only take that which is truth and twist it. He never comes up with anything original. With Baal he says that God is not the meaning of life; he says that to love others is not the meaning of life. Baal says your happiness is the meaning of life. So subtle. God will give you joy, only joy isnt the meaning of life, God is. Satan twisted that and said the joy is the meaning of life. And he said, wherein shall you find happiness? If youll worship me, said Baal, I will look after your crops and your herds and they will produce and you will be wealthy. A distortion. God said He would make us prosper so we can give it away to everybody else. But Baal distorted it to say; Ill give you riches for your sake.

Sex

At the heart of Baal worship was the distortion of sex. In fact, in order to worship Baal, one had to enter into intercourse with prostitutes at the Baal temple. It involved the entire practicing Baal worshipper in every sort of sexual immorality. It was no longer seeing a person to be loved, but it was seeing a person as a thing to be used to gratify their own desires, to feel the ultimate pleasure. Satan-Baal twisted it so they were using others for their own happiness.

This is the atmosphere and the language of the times of Gideon. They believed their happiness was of first importance. That was the meaning of life to them. And what happened? There no longer were a functioning people as God intended them to be. They became weak and helpless like everyone else. Whats the first thing that went? Their crops and their herds were stolen. Those things that Baal promised to give them were taken away. And so there was a systematic raping of the land. Israel became reduced to something like slaves. They found themselves paralyzed by fear. They were lonely people full of fear. Their only common bond was that they still clung to their belief that in Baal there was still safety and the meaning of life.

“You Are Here”

Today people believe they must protect themselves from all hurt and all pain and pursue their own happiness; that thats what life is about. And they will use whoever is available to foster their own happiness. This is the atmosphere of an obsession with self.

Have you ever been in a shopping mall where you see those maps that have a directory of the stores? You look at the map and there is a little arrow labeled, you are here. I wonder sometimes, shall I believe that map? What if somebody in their meanness, took that arrow and put it somewhere else on the map other than where I really am? Wouldnt that make a difference? You look at the map and you think you are here, but youre really not, youre over there. But, if you believe that youre there, you are going to make all your plans based on the fact that youre there when youre really here. And that means, then, that all your calculations are wrong. It means youre not where you think you are. It also means you are not going to get where you think you are going.

If I believe that my happiness is the meaning of life, then Im at the wrong end of the shopping mall. All my calculations about life and all my belief about everything is inaccurate. Im confused and Im disoriented. Thats why Jesus continues to use the word to describe the human race that He does: He says we are lost.

The Angel

Now, God came to Gideon as he sat disoriented, lonely, sad, self-pitying. How will He take this man, who is at the wrong end of the shopping mall, and get the arrow back to where his life really is? Here comes this wimp of a man, although hes the son of a mayor. He pokes his head over the edge of a wine barrel to see if there is a Midianite around and he sees an angel of the LORD sitting under a tree. I dont know what you are imagining he saw when he saw an angel, but dont think of a pale guy in a lingerie outfit. That is not an angel.

The word angel is a word we never translated from the Greek, it means a messenger. You wouldnt necessarily notice hes different from anyone else. An angel may have a business suit on; hes a messenger from God. This messenger sat under a tree and as soon as this kid pops out of the top of the wine barrel, the messenger says, Hello, there; the LORD is with you mighty, valiant warrior.

At the sound of the messengers voice Im sure Gideon ducked down again. Terrified. Valiant warrior! In the Hebrew that word meant strength, power, ability; also wealth, wisdom and substance. They used the same word to describe an army with terrible military might. The messenger says, as Gideons head pokes out of the wine barrel, here he comes the mighty warrior everyone is scared of. Gideon, with his little heap of wheat hes protecting, is being called wealthy. I suppose you could say he was being called a hero, a knight in shining armor.

Gideon is a man who has forgotten there is a covenant; hes been hanging out with Baal; he thinks happiness is the meaning of life. He is weak as water before his enemies. And this messenger of God tells him, the LORD is with you. You are an army in disguise.

How Do You See Yourself?

Again, God does not see us as we see ourselves. He sees us in the light of the covenant that He has made with us. God sees you on the basis of the covenant that He has made, even if you are not aware of it. We are not what we think we are. We are not what we think everyone else thinks we are. Nor are we the sum of our behavior. Some people think thats who they are. When God looks at you He doesnt make an evaluation based upon your history, or your behavior. You are who God says you are, which is based on the truth of what He has done for you.

Gideon thought that the Midianites thought that he was a wimp. So, hed been acting like a wimp. He thought he was helpless. I married you, God tells him. All my ability is yours if youll just wake up and forsake Baal and come back home. He came to Gideon at the lowest point in his life, when all Gideon could think of was hopelessness and despair and loneliness.

But, notice what God didnt do. He didnt say, Gideon I know how you feel. I know no one cares. I know theyve mistreated you. This is often how we comfort each other. I know people in my life who are having a hard time and they are expecting me to come up to them and do that. And I just am forbidden by the Spirit of Christ in me to be that kind of a friend, to nurture them in their self-centeredness. God doesnt comfort that way. He doesnt come to us and say, there, there. He doesnt concede that Gideon has a reason for despair; He rather invades that despair by holding truth in his face. You have to laugh at what He does.

What God calls Gideon seems so ludicrous when contrasted with what Gideon thought about himself. God spoke to Gideon as he really was. Im telling you who you really are! And thats what you are to be. That is the beginning of taking that little pointer from the wrong area in the mall and putting it right where it should be. He showed Gideon he was not a person going around saying happiness is the meaning of life; he was a person in covenant with God; I am with you, says the LORD

Gideon’s Response

Good old Gideon, his immediate response was in terms of the evidence he could sense. Basically he said, how can you sit there under that tree and tell me that the LORD is with us? Come on. How can God be with us when Im hurting like this? He even interprets Gods words and rejects what Gods word is because his interpretation is based upon his false understanding of the meaning of life. How can God be with us if Im unhappy? Many religious people in church are saying that in our day. They argue, if God is with us, where is the evidence? Notice God completely ignores Gideons drooping countenance; He doesnt even mention it. He keeps on the theme He started with: The LORD is with you, valiant warrior, be who you are! He disregards what Gideon says and goes on to say, Go, in this your strength, and deliver Israel.

Gideon wasnt getting the point; God is not with us because we have evidence and are happy. When we dare to believe the covenant, we will recognize He is with us; He is in us. It isnt, Im happy so God must be with us. It is, I look at the face of darkness and say, God is with me and I shall now begin to love with His love, and then I have joy. I dont look at my life and say Im unhappy, Im lonely, wheres God? No, Id rather look into the loneliness and say, God is with me; I shall love with His love. Then I find that it swallows up the loneliness and destroys the sadness and fills me with joy and peace. You see, Gideon had it the wrong way around. This is your strength Gideon; I am with you. Now, Gideon, you go and change the evidence. Go Gideon and create a new history. Go and deliver Israel. Gideon says, Im unhappy, Im hurt, and I feel so lonely hiding in a wine barrel like this. Im a poor man; youve got to deliver me, God. God says, the rest of Israel is lonely and hurting, you go tell them about me. He is returning Gideon to the true meaning of life.

In Him were creating a new history. Let the love of God flow through you to others and youll forget your loneliness. Youll become a functional person. In a relationship to God, we become a lover. We dare to act and love. We risk getting hurt.

Gideon says, You tell me to deliver Israel – give me a break. Hes says, I am the youngest son in my fathers house. It is not kosher for me to do anything; my older brother should do it. Anyway, this is the smallest clan in the tribe of Manasseh. Youve got the wrong guy. Youve come to the wrong address. When I look at the strength of others, Im ashamed; Im just a weak little nobody, the weakest in a weak clan. Understand, Angel, I dont count,

Do you think you dont amount to a hill of beans compared to other people? Do you tell yourself you have nothing to contribute to anybody? Have you ever faced a promotion in life in your job, and backed off of it, and said, I cant do that? A missed opportunity could be in any area. Im not just talking about what wed think of as full-time ministry, I mean you had an opportunity to bless people. Or, you had the opportunity for promotion, which would put more money in your pocket with which you could bless people.

In true to Gideons style, you say, I cant do that; Im not equipped; Ive never done that before; let somebody else do it. You turn it down. You sit in your wine barrel where youre safe. Where youre secure. You wont get hurt as long as you stay there. You wont risk anything. Youve wrapped your talent into a napkin and buried it. I hear from people all the time in terms of relationships and friendships, they say, Im too dumb to have a relationship with anybody; Im just too stupid; Im too backward; no one in their right mind could love me; Im so insecure. Im just nobody. I know if I really let myself love that person sooner or later theyll see right through me and sooner or later theyll reject me like everyone else does. So, I dare not risk it. So, I stay lonely. You know the safest place in the world is the coffin. We lock ourselves away. We dont risk. We wont become vulnerable because we dont want to get hurt. Were buying into the idea that the meaning of life is happiness.

God’s Response

Gods answer? He doesnt even discuss it with us, He says, surely I AM with you; I AM your strength. Im not asking you to go out in your strength. I AM your strength. I AM your wisdom. You can fulfill your destiny as a human being because youre joined to Me. You can reveal my love to other people because you are joined to Me. If I am with you, you will find that in Me is everything youll ever need: the courage, the strength, the resources, the wisdom, the finances, the manpowerIf I am with you, I determine your potential as a person. I AM, thats the name of God. So, I AM, is with you. Until you have seen that your ability and your potential is more than your family history. It is more than what your childhood dished out to you; its more than all your achievements to this date. Your potential is greater than all the failures youve had, your potential is in God Himself.

Your concept of what you can do is based on what youve done. Everything you have done, everything that you have been and are known for up until you sat down to read this article, is your resume. That which you have never done, never thought of doing, what only God can do through you, is your potential. God made you. He says, dont tell me what your parents are like, dont tell me what your clan is like, your potential is Me.

Back to what He told Gideon. I will be with you and you will deliver Israel. Notice God didnt say God would deliver Israel. We call on Him to zap situations all the time. But, God says, you do it; Ill be with you. It is like Jesus told the disciples. You feed them. God reveals Himself to us. The scripture says, as He is, so are we in the world. It is also true to say, as we are, so is He. He has limited Himself to us through His love purposes for the people around you, for those He would have you be friends with; His love purposes for your neighbors, and in areas beyond our imagination. He has limited Himself to accomplish those purposes through you.

The Lord Clothed Himself

A little while after that, the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon. In fact, a good translation would be that the Spirit of the LORD clothed Himself with Gideon. The Spirit of the LORD put him on like a coat. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to love. The fruit of the Spirit is love. When I say love, I do not mean that you try to be like Jesus. I mean that you let the very Spirit of Christ be the source of love and strength in your life. In Colossians 1 Paul prays, that you might be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might.

Paul told the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Power to be Longsuffering

Strengthened! If you are a student of the Bible, dunamis is that word (from which we get the word dynamite). Dunamis also means power. It says with all dunamis. With all strength and power. Jesus said after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you shall receive power. And the word might is the word that means almighty power. So, Paul is saying, you will be empowered with all power, which is in harmony with almightiness. What are we going to do, raise the dead? No, he says, this is order that you might attain to long-suffering. You know what that means? It means to love, and love, and love and love! This is love for the long haul by the power of God.

Gideon you are going to go out there to a nation of lonely, disoriented people and you are going to deliver them, and bring them back into the covenant. To do that, instead of sitting in your wine barrel, moaning about being lonely and sad, you are going to go out there and be a man who achieves something by the power of the Spirit of God in you. Only God in you can accomplish Gods goal for you.

Where Are You?

After what Ive said, do you feel that you are imprisoned in a shopping mall with the arrow in the wrong place? You started out at the wrong end? The wrong meaning of life? Have you always thought your past, your achievements, and your failures were the sum of your potential? Did you believe you would never rise above what you have been?

I trust that you are finding in this article another perspective which returns us to the real meaning of life; we are loved. Love through Christ Jesus lives in us. And He lives by His Spirit in you, in order to birth in you, love to others. The Spirit does dwell within us, and He has poured out the love of Christ in our hearts. I look at you and I say, The LORD is with you O valiant warrior! And you are His white knight. Go out to love the world and risk being hurt. Risk rejection. Go out to love the world to fulfill Gods purpose. You are love warriors.

Christian, God is IN YOU

What is His purpose? Gods will is what God wants to do in and through you. Where is God? He lives in you by His Spirit. He is going to use your eyes to look at His will for you. You wont see anything else; thats all youll see. And youll be amazed that other people cant see it as you do. Because He is looking through your eyes. He wills in me; that desire that I have in me is His will in me, and there is His power for performing His will right there on tap. No one else can tell you what the will of God for you is. Not specifically. I can point at you and ask, what do you see? What is like a toothache of the heart that just wont go away? Even if it does go away for a weekend, it comes back.

And when you dream of what should be, could be, ought to be, what do you dream? Dont get caught up in the co-dependent nonsense where others are telling you what you ought to be doing. If we were using reason to determine where the greatest need was, wed all go to Russia, or Africa. If I were where others think I should be, I wouldnt be sitting down to communicate this to you. If I dictated where I am to go, or if others did, I wouldnt be right here, right now, doing this. If I went where everybody told me to go, Id be torn, Id probably end up in a mental hospital.

I am where I am, doing what Im doing, because of what I see, what I desire, and what I dream about. And I know there are other people who dream about other things. That is for them to do. If you went to everybody who asked you to come here, do this, go there, do that; and you responded to every need that was brought to your attention by others, youd be destroyed. You have to walk in the Spirit; you have to known when the Spirit is saying, no.

It was God who gave Gideon this vision; it was God who gave him a little picture in his head and said, youre going to defeat the Midianites. Gideon received the picture; it was God who gave it. No one was pressuring Gideon to do it; he saw, he imagined it. God put it all inside of him.

You May Be On Your Own

No one will necessarily see what you see. Dont get all upset because they dont. I have a client who talks about his visions and what he wants to do, and he talks about how people in his family and his church throw wet blankets on what he attempts to do. He does recognize that their wet blankets are not of God. Don’t get with people and ask, why dont you see it my way? Everyone isnt supposed to see it your way. Dont pass your vision on to the pastor and expect him to organize it. You have the vision; it is your assignment. Do it. Mighty warrior go forth!

What Do You See?

What do you see as a need? I dont mean, necessarily, in church work. As you walk through your office at work, is there something that somebody ought to do something about? Well, maybe God is telling you to do it so that you can bless the people at work. Dont limit Gods will to just religious work. Is there some need that there doesnt seem to be an answer for? Maybe God wants to invent something through you, or start something through you and bless the world through this means. What makes you angry? See our article on anger and youll see that when you are angry about something that is wrong and nobody else seems to be concerned, it may be the Holy Spirit putting the desire to see the wrong righted through you. What do you see that could be done?

As you walk through life, you come upon things that you feel ought to be addressed. Ask the LORD if this is what He wants you to do. I think by now you can say that something has inspired your desire? He says, I am with you. To bless the world. Dont think that blessing the world is done within the church walls. The church comes together more to edify one another, to build one another up. Then we go out and are witnesses to the world, in the world. You love at every level, wherever you meet people, you bless them. God is in you and He is love.

Get Started!

Then, whatever has to be done to get started, do it and get started. Gideon had to go to the altar of Baal. His dad was the mayor of the town. The Bible says Gideon was afraid. He was so afraid that he went to tear down the altar of Baal at midnight. His legs were trembling. He was terrified. He was wishing he was back in his wine barrel. He was daring to tear down the obscene idol of Baal, while scared out of his wits about what his dad would think. But, he did it. God isnt looking for great giants. Hes looking for you, even with cold sweat running down your back, willing to do what Hes telling you to do. God is with you and the blessing of God is yours.

Strange thing though. When Gideon did it, it was his dad who stood with him. His dad said, if Baal is what he is cracked up to be, let him do something about it. Baal is supposed to be such a powerful god, but my son just put him on his face. Let him get up and fight if hes a god. So they waited around and of course nothing happened. So they called Gideon in the Hebrew Jerubbaal, which means Baal chaser, devil chaser. The power that had held them bound in fear all those years was shown to be totally powerless before a teenager.

Be Who You Are In Christ

You do whatever has got to be done; even when shaking and trembling, you do it. And youll find the strength and the wisdom to take the next step and the next step. That is the way Gideon delivered the Israelites.

You are loved unconditionally. He who is love lives inside of you by His Holy Spirit which means that you have a destiny to fulfill which is to love others with the love of God in ways that shall be revealed to you from inside by the Holy Spirit who lives in you. Walk with Him to fulfill your destiny, with God as your potential, you valiant warrior. Amen.

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