Spirit of the Flame - 70 days following the Olympic TorchReturn to Blog
On the day a teenager tried to grab the Olympic Torch in Gravesend, Kent, the Olympic Torch/Flame ended the day with a dramatic arrival at the Tower of London. Carried by a Royal Marine abseiling from a helicopter, the Torch joined all the medals in the safety of the Towers vaults. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18930410)
At the end of our day, as a family we sat together to read the story of Gideon. A fearful farmer, who considered himself less important than everyone else in his family, not least as his was the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh.
It is a story worth reading, and to read it again even if you are familiar with the story. (Judges 6:11-8:35. I am referring mainly to 6:11-23).
I find it interesting as to what Gideon accepts and what he challenges. Gideon accepts the stranger without question. The stranger, the Angel of the Lord, tells Gideon he is a strong warrior and that God is helping him. Strange this "strong warrior" is fearfully preparing his grain in a pit, out of site from his enemies!
Gideon respectfully suggests, challenges, that God did amazing things in the past for Israel, but that was then. Now there is no sign of God. Gideon felt abandoned.
Then God commands Gideon to be strong, because God was going to give him the power to rescue Israel. This makes me wonder if we shouldn't be careful what we complain to God about. If I go to God with a problem, He might make me the agent of change! But if He does, He will give me the power to do the job.
Gideon needs a sign that this is really happening, and he wants to offer a sacrifice to God. So before he goes to prepare himself, Gideon asks God to wait until he brings God an offering. And God says, "OK, I'll wait."
Then Gideon brought to God a valuable meal, a feast really. And when Gideon realised he had been in the presence of God, God had to calm him down as Gideon thought he was about to die. Gideon was exposed, but found safety in the presence of God.
The Olympic Torch is somewhat exposed to people breaking ranks and reaching for the Torch as it travels the streets, but for the "bubble" of Police security. Heightened security seems certain with a professionally trained soldier depositing the Flame into the vaults at the Tower of London. If the crown jewels are safe there, then probably everything else is safe there too.
God is like the Olympic Police safety bubble, and like the Tower of London. But just as God expected Gideon to get up and do something with His promise, God asks that of us too.
Things happen in our lives that might be likened to the threat of Midianite invasion, and plundering. We might hide in a pit, fearful of our life. We might even summon God to challenge Him as to why it seems such a long time ago that He "saved the day".
The threat of exposure is not the absence of protection and provision.
In my previous ponderings I have reflected on the protection God offers. I won't repeat myself now. In this story God's protection was only withdrawn when people "disobeyed the LORD." (Judges 6:1). Gideon was faithful to God, even under threat. And God rewarded Gideon's worship of the true God, even when Gideon kept asking for a sign so as to be sure this was God. Gideon then got up, rallied the troops, and told them of his experience, that God was about to let Israel win. And they did.
And when we experience this kind of salvation and protection from God, we get a chance to tell everyone about it.
Psalm 40 (NIV)
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
As you seek the protecting presence of God in your life, remember to share your experiences with others. What you tell them might be just what they need to hear.
-Pr Nathan Stickland