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The Winepress of Obedience
By DeAnna Brooks

Some leaders are born, the knitting a part of Godís secret weaving within the womb. Others are birthed in the winepress of obedience.

When God first found Gideon he was a man of timidity assailed by the circumstances of life, surrounded by enemies, and filled with anxiety born of their presence. God came to a winepress not to find a man making wine, but to sit beneath a Terebinth tree until a man, threshing wheat in hiding, would listen to His voice.

I love how God loves us, for the LORD came, not in judgment, but in encouragement with a commission Gideon had never dreamed possible.

"The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

I doubt anything could have shocked Gideon more. Why? Because God saw him, not as a man who was standing on a threshing floor, hiding from an enemy, with itchy pieces of chaff clinging to every part of his sweating body. No! God saw Gideon for who he would become by the victory of the winepress of obedience.

Can you hear those words falling about this beaten man like a soothing, comforting balm to a bruised and questioning soul?

I love how God loves us! He isnít afraid of our questions. He meets us where we are... in the midst of our own winepress, built for pressing a river of life from bruising grapes. He meets us there even if weíre using it to hide in... even if weíre covered with chaff... itchy, scratchy, prickly chaff. He reminds us that we are warriors, warriors who are mighty in Him and that we are not alone despite the myopia of our vision. That it is He, Himself, who is with us.

I understand Gideon. His heart beats with his questions and observations about the life heís immersed in, echoing my own. A prisoner not just to physical bondage but to the spiritual darkness that lies all about him.

Can you see and feel the despair that must have filled Gideonís soul when suddenly God appeared to Him? Not in chastisement but in wonder; in gentle encouragement and in assuring love. And all the questions, despair, and frustration burst forth from Gideonís mouth and God loved him forward with gentle grace.

"Go in the strength you have..."

I can just see Gideon with his eyes popping open and head pulling back. I imagine he even took a step or two backwards just trying to keep his balance.

"In the strength I have??? Doesnít He see where I am? Iím hiding... here... in a winepress. Every drop of my strength pressed out till I am empty. In the strength I have??"

I can hear the hollow laughter filling that chamber like an empty whisper. Then a dawning, so very dim at first, begins to light Gideonís eyes. What was but a spark begins to grow until his eyes take on a glowing of understanding... of hope.

"The strength I have is You, Lord. The only strength remaining in me is Your presence, Your heartbeat in harmony with mine. Will You be with me, Lord? You are with me! Even here. Even now."

The voice speaks again, filling the winepress and reverberating throughout Gideonís being and into my own heart meeting my own need.

"Surely, the Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

I love how God loves us. How He sees us. How He meets us... in Himself!

Gideon, a prisoner to his circumstances and to the image of a God he had created, suddenly finds himself confronted with GOD. Jehovah, the God who IS with him, reveals Himself as peace in a land of war. And Gideon lays hold of this truth, takes it in to himself, and uses it to discover a clearer picture in His heart of the God heís called to worship.

In the beginning of Gideonís faith-walk we learn the core of faith and obedience. Faith is not passive! It demands response. God, having declared Himself with Gideon, says "Now that you say you believe Me, prove it!" For God knew what lay ahead in His plans for Gideon.

Like Jesus, Gideon had to arrive to that point where he could faithfully say, "Lord, into your hands I commit my life. I trust You to be with me wherever You ask me to walk. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

So Gideon obeyed in the veil of the night!

Canít you see it, that baby step, faithful but tottering? With each swing of faithís axe Gideon's boldness grew. As the oxenís throats were cut and the offerings of self and blood were laid out before God, Gideonís sense of Godís presence grew stronger and stronger. The winepress was at work; a leader was being birthed.

In our next view Gideon is barely recognizable. Borne on the wings of exhilaration, we find him on a mountaintop listening to God speak again. What security and protection a mountaintop can afford, especially with 32,000 fighting men looking down on the enemy in the valley below.

"But, wait! Surely thatís not Godís voice I hear!"

I donít know what words screamed across Gideonís mind, but I know what words would be thundering across mine with my heart following in fast pursuit.

"You want what, Lord? You want me to divest myself of all these warriors? Youíre going to leave me only how many? Alright! Alright! Iím listening. Iím learning this obeying thing. At least Iíve got the advantage and security of the mountaintop."

"YouÖ want me toÖ what? To leave the mountaintop? But, Iím up here with You, Lord, and the valleyís over-run with the enemy! I hear You! I hear You, but, You canít be serious? The valley! You want me in the valley?"

But isn't that the nature of God to lead us from the mountaintop where we were never intended to live and to move us into the valley where all our 'faith in action' takes place? Itís in the valley we discover the fruit of His promises. Itís in the valley where the seeds of our faith produce the fruit of the vine. On the mountaintop we are tempted to stand in our own strength but itís in the valley where we find that the only hope we truly have is in Him.

"The valley, My Child. The valley. I want you in the valley. Come, with Me, to the valley and see My hand of deliverance at work on your behalf."

Gideon not only listened, he heard. And in his obedience he led straight into the heart of God.

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.
From the foothills of west Texas, the pen of DeAnna Brooks loves to weave the story of God's wooing journey into our hearts.†His love, always a blanket of gentle comfort and provision, nudges DeAnna each step of her sojourn home.†A regular contributor to FaithWriters' Magazine and Sisters In the Lord, DeAnna can be contacted through the Letters page of this magazine and additional work from her pen seen at www.LivingWaterWhisperings.highpowersites.com
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