Unexpected Company

It's not unusual for someone to come in a few minutes late for Sunday School.  In fact, it happens quite often.  So when the door opened, at first, I didn't even look up.  I continued on with my lesson, trying to say what I needed to say to hopefully finish the lesson that had taken me three weeks to cover.  But as the figure drew closer to our table, I looked up. . . and nearly swallowed my tongue.  On the one hand, I was thrilled to see this friend of the family who filled the role as my second mother long before I had a mother-in-law.  On the other hand, however, this friend had also been my speech teacher. . . TWICE!

The more I tried to watch my words, ensuring that my Southern pronunciations such as git (get), agin (again) and gonna (going to) didn't slip out, the more I stumbled and stuttered.  I couldn't think what I was trying to say, and try as I might, I didn't seem to be able to finish a sentence.  Now please understand, this dear, precious lady was not sitting there with red pen in hand, critiquing my every word.  Nevertheless, I felt nervous and inadequate beyond belief.  Thankfully, in the midst of my flustered state, God reminded me what I was teaching about, and I saw the lesson in a new light.

Immediately, I related to poor Gideon as he stood with his army of three hundred men and stared out at the Midianite army of one hundred thirty-five thousand.  Talk about feeling nervous and inadequate!  If you do the math, you'll see that the Israelite army was outnumbered four hundred fifty to one.  Not good odds.  At least, not from Gideon's standpoint.  But from God's point of view, the odds were perfect.  Not only could the three hundred annihilate the Midianite army, but they could do so by what has to be one of the strangest battle tactics of all time.  I don't have time to go into the entire story, but if you'd like to read it for yourself, you can find it beginning in the sixth chapter of Judges and continuing on until chapter eight.

As I thought about Gideon and witnessed his fear, I remembered how God had called him a mighty man of valor, and suddenly, I found comfort in the thought that God sees beyond who were are.  He sees what we can be.  When I took my first speech class in ninth grade, God saw beyond the bumbling idiot who was so shy and nervous that she couldn't compose a coherent sentence to save her life.  He saw a college a student who would take a similar speech class and be one step closer to becoming what He wanted her to be--still shy and nervous, but growing in faith and knowledge.  But He even saw beyond that.  He saw a woman teaching a Sunday School class week after week, praying that something she says will be a blessing to those who hear it.  Still nervous, still stuttering and stammering from time to time.  Yet still growing more and more into what God wants her to be.  Beyond that, I have no idea what God sees.  Maybe a speaker who travels around the world, encouraging women in the faith.  Who knows?  The point is that God sees what I'm capable of, even when I don't.

I wanted so much to impress my friend/former speech teacher on Sunday that I nearly forgot the point of my lesson.  It doesn't matter how well I speak or how nervous I become.  What matters is that God is using me and molding me to be all that He has created me to be, and each time I follow His will, I become more like Him.  Gideon was not a mighty man of valor when he first encountered God, but after a period of trial, fear and faith, he became one.  And if God could do that for Gideon, can't He do it for us?

It's easy to grow discouraged in our Christian walk.  Sometimes we feel we should be better off or farther along.  We despair of ever becoming what God wants us to be.  But we shouldn't.  God won't give up on us.  No matter our fear or lack of faith.  No matter our questions or excuses.  If we're willing to let Him use us, God will bring us where we need to be.  I'm not saying the road will be easy or that you'll never squirm in your seat, but I can assure you that God is still working on you.  And one thing I know about God is that He never leaves a job unfinished.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: - Philippians 1:6