My heart and mind are so full of thoughts, it’s hard to know where to begin today. One of my dearest friends has been struggling lately, in part, because some people at church aren’t happy with the way she goes about doing her church calling. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e. LDS Church, or Mormons) no one gets paid for their service. The bishop serves gratis. The youth leaders serve gratis, the organist, the nursery leaders, everyone freely serves. The catch with this is that you can’t say, “I feel called to teach Sunday School to the 14-year-olds.” It doesn’t work that way. The bishop and his two counselors pray for divine guidance to know who the Lord wants in which position, or calling, and the odds are very high that what you get called to will be something you would much rather let someone else do. But the fact is that the Lord has need of willing people to serve in the less convenient areas, (haha, they’re all less-convenient) so acting on faith, I usually give a heartfelt prayer that God will make good use of the talents He’s given me, and then I say yes. And then I go home and wonder who’s crazier – me, the bishop, or God.
It’s a tough spot to be in – trying your best to do a church calling that you realize more and more each day is bigger than your skills or the capacity of your “free time”, and trying to keep everybody happy with how you go about it, and some days you wonder if the next mistake you make will get you “fired,” and then wondering if that would actually be so bad, but knowing how much it would hurt, because you actually do care about the people you serve. How do you balance what you feel God is prompting you to do in your calling, with what other peoples’ expectations are, especially if the two goals don’t line up?
I’m still pondering the story of Gideon (Judges 6-8). God called him to gather and lead an army against the Midianites, who held the people of Israel in cruel bondage. He was able to muster an army of 32,000 men to go against the armies of the Midianites and the Amalekites whose army covered the valley as “thick as locusts.” But the Lord said he had too many people in his army, and that if they won, they would be tempted to take all the credit for the win.
Then God told Gideon to send home all the men who were afraid, and 22,000 of them went back home. You would think an army of 10,000 – against an army that had so many camels it was as hard to count them as to count grains of sand on the seashore – would be outnumbered enough that giving God credit would be a no-brainer, but the Lord still said, “You have too many. Have them drink from the river and only keep the ones that stay ready while they drink.”
By this point Gideon is down to 300 soldiers. And then, after spying out the enemy army, he told them all the plan. He gave them each a trumpet, and a lamp shielded with a pitcher. He told them to follow what he did. Here’s a miracle – they trusted him.
Each man took the non-warlike tools they were given, and they spread out – 300 men surrounding the army of thousands of well-armed soldiers. And then on Gideon’s signal they broke the pitchers so the lights shone brightly in the darkness, blew loudly on their horns, and shouted, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” The enemy army panicked in the darkness and attacked each other, ending with the entire defeat and route of the army and leaders, with not a single person in Gideon’s army even having to lift a sword.
I wonder how many people said he was crazy beforehand. I wonder if they said he was doing his job all wrong. I wonder if they were trying to figure out how he could even have 300 men following him into battle, when clearly this farm kid didn’t know what he was doing. Maybe they said he was only trying to get attention. Maybe they stood back or hid and waited for him to fail an epic fail. I wonder if Gideon thought all those things about himself. Maybe he did, at first.
Here’s the thing I’ve found though. When I let my doubts dance around on my mental stage, I can’t accomplish much of anything. When I finally commit, body, mind, and soul to what I feel God prompting me to do, then God never fails me. Every time I do what He asks, He has come through for me. Even when I think I’m standing in the middle of an army of only 30, or even only three. God comes through on his promises. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of what those standing around watching think.
Another thing I’ve found is that I’d rather stand with the Lord, and those He calls, and his “crazy soldiers”, than be a person who spreads doubt and fear.