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Judges: Testing God

Then Gideon said to God, ?If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.? And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water.      -- Judges 6:36-38

On a hot September afternoon in 2010, I sat high in a tree in an aluminum climbing stand.  Cicadas buzzed loudly in the woods behind me, and the constant whine of mosquitoes was quickly pushing me to the end of my patience.  A drop of sweat rolled down the side of my face and splashed onto the limb of the bow that lay in my lap.

In front of me, a stick snapped in the woods and the little flock of doves that was milling around in the tiny clearing scattered, their wings whistling as they beat the air trying to gain altitude.  Soon another stick cracked, and then I heard the unmistakable crunch of leaves as a deer approached the clearing.

Slowly and cautiously I stood up in the stand, feeling the pull of the safety harness as it tightened around me.  I raised my bow into an upright position, being careful not to let the nocked arrow bang against the rails of the stand or the riser of the bow.  The cicadas ceased their buzzing, and a hot wind swirled around me.

Through an opening in the thick brush that surrounded the little clearing, I saw a hint of brown; the body of the deer.  Just a few more steps, I thought.  Come on deer, come get some acorns. 

With a loud snort that almost made me fall out of the stand, the deer turned and vanished back the way it had come.  The sound of its footfalls thudded against the hard earth, and I knew that it was gone for good.  And I knew that any other deer in the area had probably heard it leave.

Cursing silently, I settled back down into the stand and rested the back of my head against the tree.  Immediately, I was regretful for my response.  God, I prayed. The early part of this season has been such a struggle.  It?s hotter than heck out here, and the mosquitoes are terrible, and in five trips afield I haven?t seen a single deer.  Last year was such a great year, and now this.  Have I angered you in some way?

Around me, the birds slowly started moving again, and the cicadas resumed their loud buzzing.  A squirrel darted into the clearing, grabbed an acorn from the base of a white oak tree, and then ran back into the woods.  There was no answer from heaven, only the shriek of a fighter plane as it crossed the sky above me as it headed back to Shaw Air Force base from wherever mission it had been on.

I tried again.  God, if you truly love me will you send me a deer right now?  It doesn?t have to be a monster.  Just a shootable buck; one that fits in with our club rules.  Wasn?t there some verse in the Bible about some old Israelite who had tested God by asking Him to wet a sheepskin, but not the ground around it, if he was going to succeed in battle?  If that was the case, would God not give me a similar sign? 

As the day moved on, the sun began to set in the western sky, and still no deer appeared.  I heard no further movement in the woods, and when the last light faded I climbed down from my tree and hiked back to my truck, tired and dejected.  I made the long drive down the logging road back to our sign-in board where the other hunters had gathered to talk about what they had seen.

Many of them had seen groups of does, and one fellow got a good look at what he said was a really nice buck from a distance.  Why them, I wondered, and not me?  And this time I heard that still small voice in the depths of my mind.  Your time will come, the voice said, and that was all.  I believed those words, but still felt short-changed on the way the hunting season was going.  The previous three or four seasons had gone so well that I just knew that this was going to be another good year.

As I drove home that night, I asked myself how many other times in the past have I sat for hours in a deer stand and asked God to send me a deer.  How many prayers have I lifted up to Him saying, ?Could I have that one big buck today; the one that I?ll remember for the rest of my life??  And how many times have I asked Him to give me a sign that this would be the year that I got my biggest deer ever?

What causes us to seek for reassurance from God about the things in our life?   We are told over and over that we should trust Him, and yet these signs that we ask for show a lack of trust in Him.  Do we not believe that His heart for us is truly good?  Or do we think that He is holding back on us in some way?  Upon careful thought, I really think that this is what we believe, and why we don?t trust Him the way we should.

Thought Questions

In what ways have you tried to test God?  Have you tried to determine His will by testing Him in one way or another?

Why do you think we don?t always fully trust God?  Is it because we are surrounded by fallible men, and we lump God in with them?  Why don?t we always elevate Him to the place where He belongs?

Now think about Gideon from the quote at the beginning of this chapter.  Why do you think he tested God not once, but twice before he went into battle?

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