The Bible is full of stories of men and women who, though they lived a world and centuries away, lived lives that relate directly to our own. The name of one such man is Gideon. Gideon was an unassuming man. He did not come from a family of great wealth or influence. Of his own confession he was the least in his family. Gideon led an army that was ill-equipped, untrained and outnumbered to a tremendous victory that brought freedom to his people. But he did not begin that way.
When we are introduced to Gideon, he was beating wheat while hidng from his enemies in a winepress. He was hiding, hoping not to be discovered, in a cloudy, dust-filled cave trying to scrape together enough raw material for food. Here in this winepress an angel of the Lord came to him, saying, "God is with you, O mighty warrior!"
Warrior? Not really the title you think of to address a man with no military experience, who was from an insignificant family and was hiding. This messenger of God addressed Gideon as only he saw him. God sees us not for what we think we are, but what we are to be.
Throughout our lives people use label upon label to describe us. The first question to come up at parties when meeting new people is, "What do you do?" How you respond will put you in a frame, a context, a box in the other person's mind.
If Gideon was asked the question of what he did, the only response he could have given was, "I am a hider. I produce barely enough wheat to survive. I blame anything and everything for my failures. I am least important from an unsuccessful family."
God saw him as a valiant warrior, a hero, a mighty man of valor. No doubt Gideon had some tremendous negative experiences in his life, moments that shaped who he saw himself to be. While our lives may be full of defining moments, they do not define who we are or what we can be.
God sees what we do not. God is able to look past who we think we are -- and what we believe that we are incapable of -- in order to do something amazing in our lives. He will greet you as he sees you. What happens next is up to you.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father and serves as the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jackson.