Trusting in God is easy to say and very hard to do. Most of the time I think that I am trusting in God, but most of the time I am doing anything but trust. As I have been known to say, “I begin every day saying ‘thy will be done,’ and then spend the bulk of that attempting to renegotiate that notion.” Today I was once again reminded of the futility of such attempts, and the knowledge that it is God who is in charge.
The Book of Judges sits open before me; I am really enjoying reading from it this week, thanks to the daily mass readings. During mass we are given shorter snippets from all the readings, psalms, and gospels, but I always like reading a little of the prior and subsequent chapters as well.
Many bibles grace my bookshelves, but my daily go-to is The Catholic Prayer Bible, Lectio Divina Edition (from Paulist Press), which I really love. There are small sections throughout that bring up questions for (quelle surprise) reflection. Today, as I pressed on past the first reading from Judges 6:11-24, I was rewarded with chapter 7 along with a reflection box that offered a chance to reflect on what God asked of Gideon.
In chapter 7 Gideon heads into battle with his giant army of 32,000 men, to face off with the army of Midian. Straight up in that second verse of the chapter, God communicates saying that basically, Gideon has too many troops. With the admonition to that any soldier who is “fearful or trembling” should return home. End result: 22,000 bolt, 10,000 remain.
Apparently this is still too many for God. The long and short of it is that at the conclusion of that process, only 300 troops will head into battle – armed with jugs and trumpets. God, being God, wants to make sure that this victory is seen as God’s own victory – not the victory of a mighty army – specifically the Israelites possible idolization of their own prowess. However, there were many Midianites, just read this one sentence:
The Midianites, Amalekites, and all the Kedemites were lying in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could not be counted, for they were as many as the sands on the seashore.
If you read on, you learn that against this mighty horde, 300 men are sent in with weapons of trumpets and jars. Yes – trumpets and jars.
You may know, or you can read on, and find out what happened. It is no real spoiler alert to say that God is always victorious. Why then, am I so loathe to truly trust God? A few months ago I was prompted to ask myself the question, “Do you really trust God?” There has been no shortage of replies found all around me, pointing to God. While I feel more aware, I remain wary. No – not consciously “I-do-not-want-to-trust-wary” but more like “Hmmm, but what if I did *this* instead?” As if my own ideas would outperform what God has planned? So far, those rare moments of trust yield the greatest fruits. Not because of what “I” do, but because of what happens.
All of this leads to today’s Gospel, and what I truly believe to be the big question of faith in our own time turns out to be. Can we give it all up and follow God? I’m not sure we have to empty the contents of our homes and don the hairshirt, but I do think that we may want to rethink what we want versus what we need. Forget “we” – I’m really saying that to myself.
The challenge of trust. How will we respond to this question in our life? I’m not sure, but hopefully I will see you as we proceed, holding our jars and our trumpets against the power of our own pride.