I hate to break it to you, but not everyone will like you. I know, shocking, right?
For some, this will be terrifying news, for others, the sad truth may have already (slowly) dawned.
Whether we like it or not, whatever the future holds for us as we run, walk, (limp?) toward our calling or dream, not everyone will join us on the journey.
Even the people we love and respect most in the world might give up. They might walk away, ditch you, think you’re crazy for pursuing such a bonkers dream.
But if that happens, you’re not alone. Actually, you’re in pretty noble company.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about Gideon in the Bible and this morning, I started reading Judges 5.
At the time, Israel was under attack. The evil Midianites nearby, kept raiding Israel’s homes and Judges 6 says that ‘whatever Israel had sown, the Midianites would attack and reap’.
It was a HUGE mess.
The Israelites were in constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, there was no food and in the middle of it, an Angel appears to a chap called Gideon and basically says, ‘you’re the man. I’m going to use you to defeat this evil invasion’.
After a series of tests (remember the story of Gideon and the fleece?), Gideon finally accepts the assignment God has placed on his life. But he is brutally honest with the Lord when he says, ‘My people are weak…I’m a bit of a nobody…but if you think I can do this, then I will’.
(I think that’s a place loads of us have been to!)
So Gideon was finally ready to go to battle, the strategy was in place and weirdly, I have this mental image of him pacing up and down, nervously preparing for the biggest fight of his life, saying, ‘we’ve got this…we CAN do it’.
But then, all of a sudden, God says to him, ‘Gideon, your army is too big’.
Gideon: Uhm, what?
Creator of the universe: Your army is too big. You need fewer men.
Gideon: Oh Lord, you have GOT to be joking…
But God isn’t joking and little by little, begins to whittle away at Gideon’s mighty army.
At this point, it’s worth pointing out that Gideon’s warriors numbered about 32,000 people. That’s quite a lot of humans.
But God wanted less people because on the day of victory, he wanted the Midianites to be dumbfounded at what had been achieved with so few people.
That meant some of the army simply had to go.
And so began a process of ‘voluntary redundancies’.
Instead of automatically ruling people out, God wanted the men to leave of their own free will, to admit this was not for them.
The process of elimination began when Gideon asked the people, ‘who’s afraid?’
One by one, thousands upon thousands of hands went up and to their surprise, Gideon released them from duty….all 22,000 of them, leaving a mere 10,000 left.
There wasn’t any shame in this, no disgrace in admitting they no longer followed the vision, it was just an opportunity for people to declare whether they were ‘in’ or ‘out’
But there was still more work to be done and eventually the Lord reduced an army of 32,000 people to 300.
You did NOT read that wrong. Not 3000. 300.
32,000 to 300.
How on earth could God do anything with 300 people, when previously they’d had enough warriors to fill a stadium?
But as incredulous as I’m sure Gideon was, the Lord said to him, ‘with these 300 people, I’m going to deliver you’.
And then God began, little by little to give Gideon the strategy for what was next.
In Judges 7, it says that the Midianites and the Amalekites (who’d joined forces) were lying in wait in the valley, ‘as numerous as locusts’. They had so many camels between them, they were ‘like grains of sand at the sea’.
Can you imagine what that must have been like?
Here’s Gideon, looking down at this sea of humanity, feeling weak and unsure, with his paltry 300 men.
There was NO way this was possible and it was only likely to end in bloody disaster.
And yet God had hand-picked the 300 right men for the job.
Everyone else from the 32,000 had left Gideon. They were afraid or didn’t qualify in some other way.
But Gideon was about to learn, with God on his side, he didn’t need multitudes of people, he just needed a crack team made up of the right people.
And you know what happened?
God used those 300 people by splitting them into 3 separate teams, to surround the evil camp.
They made such a noise by blowing trumpets and running through the camp from every direction, with blazing torches, that the people were confused and, I’m not even joking, began turning their swords on each other.
Victory was won that day.
An impossible victory brought about by 301 men, a few fiery torches and hearts full of faith at what God could do through them.
So, whatever battle you’re facing, the truth is, not everyone will stand with you. You’ll be betrayed, you’ll be used, you’ll get your heart broken.
Sometimes, life completely sucks. People you’ve relied on will probably let you down, others will run off because they’re scared or feeling insecure.
You might end up completely alone, wondering if you even heard God correctly at all.
But you don’t need an army around you, to do what God’s asked you to do.
You just need the right people.
When God is providing the strategy, it only takes a few.