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Lessons from the Story of Gideon

Lesson 1: God uses tough times to get our attention

Read: Judges 6:1-6

While observing a classroom full of hyper kindergartners I noticed how hard it seemed for the teacher to get their attention long enough for them to listen to her. Coloring and talking seemed to be more important than what the teacher was trying say. First, she tried a verbal warning that the noise level was too loud. When that didn’t work, she tried to get their attention by clapping her hands. That worked for a few minutes; the five year olds stopped just long enough to repeat her claps, but soon they were back at it. Finally, the teacher headed to the light switch and turned off the lights. Immediately, there was a hush in the classroom, and all those little eyes darted across the room to focus on the teacher. She finally had their full attention!

This is what was happening at the beginning of Judges 6. God no longer had the Children of Israel’s attention. In Chapters 4 and 5 they had won a great victory over their enemies, and the land had been at rest for 40 years. Since everything was going so good, their attention shifted to other things and not to God. They drifted so far from God that they began doing evil in His sight. So God shook them up by causing an enemy to come against them to show them how hard life can be without God.

For 7 years the Midianites severely oppressed the Children of Israel. They oppressed them so much that the Children of Israel were hiding in caves in the mountains, scared and helpless. Finally, the children of Israel cried out for help. Why did it take 7 years, though? How much suffering could they have avoided if they had trusted God and given Him the attention He deserved! Why did God have to turn the lights out on them to get their attention? After all of the many victories God had performed for them in times past, shouldn’t they have been eager to stay close to God? They should have, but because they were at ease, because other things were more important, and because they didn’t give God their attention, they drifted away.

Sometimes in our chaotic lives God is trying to get our attention. We’ve got all of our bills paid, the kids are acting right, business is going great, our health is good, we have no worries, and we become at ease. We stop praying as fervently. Instead of digging into the word of God and studying it, we quickly skim over the Verse of the Day on our way out the door. Slowly, other things have the attention that God should have, and when we don’t pay attention he has to turn the lights off and put us in the dark – situations where we can’t see our way out, and our only option is to focus and rely on Him.

Don’t let God have to put you in the dark to get your attention. He longs to be at the center of your life. Make a daily habit to run to Him, and draw close to Him. Don’t make the Children of Israel’s mistake and wait until things are going wrong to give God your full attention. He deserves to be first place in your life.