Awareness of God’s Presence

This devotion is one that I shared at a Renewal Fellowship board meeting in March of 2022 and also shared during a midweek service during Lent. During both we looked at Judges 6:11-7:21, reading just the first part of it and referencing other parts of the section of scripture. This is referencing Gideon, who would have lived roughly 3,000 to 3,300 years ago. The scriptures start off with telling us that Gideon was threshing grain in a wine press. He was hiding for fear that the Midianites would come and steal his grain. What happens next is that an angel of the Lord appears. Even though Gideon was living in fear of strangers, he stops what he is doing and goes over to this stranger.

My first point for us is to recognize that even in a time of fear and busyness, Gideon takes time to recognize that the angel of the Lord is present.  Too often when we are busy, we don’t have the awareness to see God’s presence or hear God speaking to us.  It is easy to allow the fear to dictate our responses or our busyness to guide our responses or lack thereof.

The Angel of the Lord greets Gideon by saying “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12b).  Gideon but a verse prior was hiding in a wine press, afraid of thieves and other attackers; he is not looking or sounding like a man of valor who stands up to oppression and injustice. He sounds like a person who is trying to hide, to not be noticed, and here he is being noticed by God. God speaks two truths into Gideon’s life: firstly that God is with him and secondly that Gideon is stronger than he thinks. God sees more of who we are, and definitely the deeper truth of our lives that we are afraid to admit, whether it is one of encouragement or the recognition of sin. We need to take the time to listen to what God has to say to us so that we will be ready to hear where God is sending us and not be overwhelmed by what is laid before us.

In this interaction, while humbled and scared at times, doubting at other times, Gideon is honest with the angel of the Lord. Gideon asks the hard question that many of us struggle with in times of struggle: where are you God?  Gideon’s faith comes through in recognizing that God has been faithful in the past but is wondering why are so many bad things happening to God’s people right now. The answer is not what we would expect, either. The angel of the Lord tells Gideon, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor. . . I will be with you.” (6:14b,16b).

God is commissioning this man, who moments ago was hiding, to go and lead a rebellion against the Midianites. God has heard His peoples’ cry for help and is empowering and leading His people to act.

God did not pick the person who everyone saw and respected or feared.  God picked the person who would listen and be aware of God’s presence to lead God’s people. It was not about following a personality, it was about following God and trusting in Him to deliver His people. Even when we look further into the retelling of this event, Gideon is constantly listening to God’s leading, whether it is to reduce the number of people in the army so they would not mistake their victory by being self-accomplished or when doubts filled the air and God reassured them through their enemies’ own words.

What is it that you are facing, or your church, your culture or society, or the world? Will you have the awareness of God’s presence at work in your life to go and listen to God speak to you?  Will you be honest enough with God to bare your heart and soul before God? Will you trust the redeeming love and power of Jesus enough to follow Him where He is leading you?  When we are aware, when we listen, when we trust, and go where Jesus is leading us, it is not about our limitations, it is about Jesus’ grace being lived out and realized. It is not easy, but living with the dynamic and empowering life of Jesus never is but it is fulfilling.

— Ed Charlton is minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Arthur Ont., St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Gordonville Ont., and is a Wellington North Fire Services Chaplain. He is a member of the Renewal Fellowship board.

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