“Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been so upset about something that you were missing the world right in front of your face? Most of us have at some point. Life doesn’t go our way and we let it put us in a place where we can’t get past what went wrong. All of our attention gets sucked into the frustration and things that most people would say are obvious don’t even register on our radar.
Gideon was here. The hardships of his life had become the lens through which he saw everything. He could still operate and get through his daily duties–you could too–but when somebody brought it up to him all the rest of his focus got hazy and he got stuck again.
When the angel of the Lord walked up to Gideon, He started talking about how courageous and chosen by God Gideon was. Gideon immediately responded with sarcastic complaining about the state of things. How could anybody in Israel be chosen by God when God had clearly abandoned them to the Midianites? The angel persisted. Gideon finally demanded proof that He really was speaking for God which the angel patiently gave him. And then it finally dawned on him in whose presence he was actually standing. Mercifully, God didn’t strike him down on the spot.
So then, how do we avoid the trap Gideon was in here? How do we keep from getting so sucked into some point of pain or frustration or brokenness that we even miss God Himself standing in front of us?
We start with prayer-directed reality checks. Ask God directly: Are there things that are getting between me and reality? Open your heart to Him and let Him take you on a journey through it. Let Him show you the real state of things there.
Next, if the block we are dealing with is the result of our sin, we confess it and repent of it. Sometimes, when we are staring at a wall, we are the ones who have built it. If we’re ever going to get moving forward again, we’ve got to tear it down. The only way to tear down a wall of sin is to come clean about it. Own up to building it, then let God help you take a sledgehammer to it. And just so you know, this is not likely to be a quick or easy process. Sometimes the sin-walls we build are thick and high and strong. Breaking them down takes committed work over time. Our God will help us every step of the way, but we’ve got to commit to doing it. Being stuck behind a wall is no way to live.
Finally, if we are stuck on some point because of somebody else’s sin against us, we’ve got to forgive them. This is where things can get really hard. The difficulty here comes primarily from this: The wall keeps us from having to deal with the hurt. It is ironic, but when we stay focused on the hurt and the anger at the person who caused them, we don’t actually have to feel the hurt. Yet, refusing to deal with it allows a root of bitterness to grow inside of us that will poison us if we do not cut it out quickly. We forgive so that we can move forward into life again.
One last thing: When God comes to call us past our block, out of our rut, it’s because He’s got plans for us that will be for our good and the good of everybody around us. Our best bet is to go with Him.