When we are depressed, anxious, or flat-out afraid many of us tend to retreat into hiding. We go to our comfortable spots and hunker down. For me, I tend to burrow into the sofa and escape to the land of Netflix.
But hiding like that doesn’t solve any of my problems, it just distracts me from them. And far from improving my situation, my passivity almost always makes things worse.
I’ve found my key to getting off the couch is a shift in my mindset. Once my thinking tacks, I find it easier to move forward with action. And the more action I take, the less depressed and hopeless I feel.
Israel’s Cycles of Ups and Downs
The book of Judges records the long years of conflict and oppression God’s people experienced after entering the Promised Land. The stories you’ll find in this book represent a time when the nation of Israel seesawed spiritually, physically, economically, and emotionally from highs to lows.
The story of Gideon, in particular, illustrates the impact of internalizing and living out of a godly perspective. When we internalize biblical truth we are empowered to emerge from our hiding places and walk in God’s strength.
When the angel of the Lord initially seeks out Gideon, he finds him threshing wheat in a winepress. (Judges 6:11) This would be kinda like an angel coming to call me and finding me swaddled in a blanket on the sofa three hours into a Netflix marathon.
Nobody threshes wheat in a winepress. One has to be out in the open where the airflow can seperate the wheat from the chaff. Gideon was clearly hiding out in fear.
The first mindset shift Gideon needed to make in order to come out of hiding and take action are revealed in the words of the angel.
1. Recognize the Lord is with You
The very first thing the angel said to Gideon was, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” God sees in him strength, courage, and capabilities Gideon is oblivious to while focused on his troubles and fears.
When we remember that the Lord is with us and promises to never forsake us, we begin to shift our thinking toward God and away from the strongholds that drag us down.
Gideon’s response to this first message demonstrates he isn’t yet ready to come out of hiding. He questions the messenger as to why all these bad things are happening to him and God’s people if the Lord is with them.
The angel’s response is the key to our second mindset shift.
2. You Have Strength, Use it!
The Lord’s response via the angel is to the point:
Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
Our strength is God. And on this side of the resurrection of Christ, we have something eternally that Gideon only had temporarily: God within us.
We must not wait until all our circumstances are ideal. We need to take action now with what we’ve got and trust God to fill in the gap between our insufficiency and what is needed to fulfill our calling.
There is a reason the Almighty uses weak people like me and you: so it is clear the power is not ours but is God’s within us. The power and the glory belong to God.
We can’t boast but we also can’t hide. We’ve got to get off the couch and go in the strength we have. To do this, we need our third mindset shift…
3. Get God Back on the Throne
In reality God actually never comes off his throne of sovereignty. However, when our thinking gets out of wack, we can allow other things to crowd out his rightful place on the throne of our heart and minds.
We must recognize God’s rightful place: first place in everything. (see Colossians 1:17-18)
Right Thinking Leads to Right Actions
In Gideon’s case, wrapping his head around these three truths capacitated his ability to take action.
His first task: tear down the idols the Israelites had been worshiping instead of God.
Do you see the transition from internal change of thinking to external action?
Taking action is scary. In Gideon’s case (and often in ours) new thinking initiates new actions which brings conflict with his friends and family. We will begin to live differently and in ways that impact those around us. Conflict or disapproval from those around us can be navigated successfully if we have firmly fixed in our mind the three concepts conveyed to Gideon by the Lord.
Gideon tore down the idols. However, please notice, he didn’t do it gallantly. (Judges 6:25-27) Yet, he did it nonetheless. (Judges 6:27) His courageous action originated in his shifted thinking.
Seek Reassurance from God When You Need It Then Saddle Up
Over and over again, we see Gideon express his fear as he takes bigger and bigger action in response to God’s leading. When he is scared, he asks God for confirmation and reassurance. God patiently provides. (Judges 6:17, 36-40)
The fear doesn’t go away but Gideon doesn’t allow the fear to have the final word. He gives that to God.
We aren’t action heroes, we are children of God. We don’t have to be graceful, confident in ourselves, or even unafraid. We just need to take action with what we’ve got. And remember, as a believer, what you’ve got is the Lord with you!
If you’re in fearful funk right now, I encourage you to read Gideon’s story in Judges 6. Let it help you incorporate within yourself the three biblical truths:
- Recognize the Lord is with you.
- You have strength, use it!
- Get God Back on the Throne
Then put your new way of thinking into action. Seek reassurance from the Lord as you need to, and come out of hiding. Walk in the knowledge you are a mighty warrior capable of living out God’s call on your life because He is with you.