The Secret to a Miserable Life
Growing up, I was never allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. I wasn’t even allowed to go to those church-y trunk-or-treat hallelujah parties. My parents told me that Halloween was a night where pets were being sacrificed to the devil. So while you were out enjoying your pillowcase full of Butterfingers, I was at home praying that your chihuahua would make it to see the light of day. Regardless of how you choose to spend the 31st day of October each year, I have a theory about Halloween, one I think we might all agree on. My theory is that although Halloween is the only day we wear a mask on the outside, we actually wear masks on the inside all year long.
At the root of the matter, the reason we wear masks is that we feel insecure and we buy into the lie that we aren’t good enough. So, instead of dealing with the lie, we wear a mask as a defense mechanism to cover up the insecurity. But let me tell you this: Living out of your insecurity is the secret to a miserable life.
Look at the life of Gideon and his journey from miserable insecurity to vulnerability and, finally, power. Gideon was haunted by a low opinion of himself and it made him uncomfortable with who God called him to be.
The story of Gideon comes in the book of Judges at a time when a people called the Midianites had taken control over the Israelites, God’s people. They were super stressed out, as you can imagine, and they did something they hadn’t done even in their days of prosperity: they cried out to God. In response, God raises up what the Bible calls a “judge.” Gideon, 90 pounds soaking wet, was the deliverer God chose for his people. And what was he doing when he got called? He was threshing wheat in a winepress.
Perhaps you don’t live on a farm, so let me explain. Threshing wheat is an activity where you take a pitchfork, get a scoop of harvested wheat, and throw it up in the air. You’d always do it in a windy place so the wind could come through and separate the chaff from the wheat. The chaff would be carried away and discarded. Because the kernel of the wheat is heavier, it would fall to the ground and you could collect it and have it to eat. The problem is that Gideon was doing all of this indoors in a winepress. Do you see any problems with this plan? Why didn’t he go out to a hill where they would normally do it outdoors? The text was clear: the reason was fear. It is in this cowardly moment that the angel of the Lord (Bible code word for Jesus) shows up and greets Gideon as a Mighty Warrior…the opposite of how he looked and felt. You would think that would be enough to convince him that he was the one for the job, but it is at this point that Gideon’s insecurities pop up hardcore.
To make a long story short, Gideon accepts the challenge and raises up an army. God planned on stacking the deck against Gideon in such a way that it would be unmistakable as to who the credit should go to when he was victorious.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned in Gideon’s story. One that took place in the threshing floor: Before the battle of the fist comes the battle of the mind. The cure for insecurity is understanding your true identity. That is to say that when you know who you are, it doesn’t matter who you are not. That’s why God told Gideon he was a mighty warrior. Don’t focus on what you aren’t, focus on what you are! You are loved by God. You are loved by God. You are loved by God. Hello! And the good news for us insecure mask-wearing phonies is that if we were the ones who put the mask on, we can just as easily take it off and begin to walk in the power and the purpose set out before us.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What insecurities do I see in my life that I would be willing to address so I can begin to tackle them?
- What “mask” do I wear to cover my insecurities?
- What are three statements I can tell myself when I need to flip the script in my mind and remind myself of who God says I am?
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”
Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.Judges 6:1-40 NIV
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.Psalm 139:14 NIV