So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. (Judges 7:5-8)
When my run is hot and sweaty, I go into the St. Clare’s Hospital entryway. There’s an ice-cold fountain and a restroom. I’ll drink at the fountain and splash my face in the restroom. On a recent sweltering day, however, there was a sign on the fountain: Sorry, Out of Service. So, I went into the restroom and decided to drink at the sink. Unfortunately, it had an auto shutoff, so I could only get a tiny swallow at a time.
But then an incident from the Bible came to mind. So, I cupped my hands under the water, made them into a little basin, and slurped.
Yes, the details of the incident I remembered are in Judges 7. This is how Gideon narrowed down the number of his fighting men. The purpose of him having a small fighting force was to let him know that the real power comes from God. So, only the limited number of guys who lapped went into battle against a much larger foe.
My slurping leads to a good reminder for any day. Sure, we do go out and put forth our best effort. But we should not forget that the real power to run well … or to do anything in life…. comes from God.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs
(Isaiah 35 :5-7a)
Do you ever feel a certain unease even when things are going well? Somehow there is something missing, just knowing life should be more than this.
In today’s passage, Isaiah wrote to his fellow Israelites who were being exiled, but who would later be allowed to return to their homeland. His powerful poetry shows marvelous things that God has done, is doing, and will do.
Not only did Isaiah speak to his Jewish compatriots, but as prophet he gave a preview of what Jesus would do at the cross and will do when he returns.
Yes, a major part of Isaiah’s promise has already been fulfilled … but much remains to be completed. We call this the already and the not yet. Understanding the difference between these helps keep us from two misunderstandings of how God is working today.
Misunderstanding # 1. We overestimate how much of our problems and ills God will heal now…….and get disheartened because he has not lived up to all our expectations. We expect our best life now, so we get embittered when we lose a job or have declining health or family feuds. We focus on what has not gotten fixed and are discouraged because God seems so slow at answering our prayers.
Misunderstanding # 2 Is underestimating how much the Lord wants to do now. We get so discouraged by what happened in #1 that we neglect how God is on the move now and does care for us. We forget that God says: “Fear not, I am with you.”
Even though there is no guarantee that all our burning sand will be cooled in this lifetime, it is guaranteed that God transforms how we react to the heat we face in this life. Our tongue does start to shout for joy.
And we warmly anticipate that one day our Lord Jesus will return and the rest of the “not yet” will become “now”.