In the book, “Axioms” by Bill Hybels, he spends a few pages talking about this concept: only God. Hybels spends most of these pages sharing some pretty amazing stories about the work that he’s watched God do.
Three different things came together to help me kind of get this in my own life.
First off, I’ve been doing my over intellectualization thing, pondering it and chewing over it. And the thing that occurs to me is that that when we’re looking at big, God-sized things, there’s a few things that somebody might say.
Even if it’s a thing only God is capeable of, they might say, “I can do it.” This is wrong, in two ways. It’s wrong as a matter of fact and wrong morally. It’s an act of idolatry, a replay of the fall at the Garden of Eden.
The second option we have is to say, “God could do it.” This is to recognize that God is active in our lives, but not required.
Only by putting the two words together, “Only God could do it” Do we recognize that God is not only present, but is in fact required.
As I was chewing over all this, I was reading Judges, Chapter 5. I wasn’t seeking out a story that explained this principle. I’ve been taking the wacky bible-reading strategy of starting at the beginning and finishing at the end. That was where I was today.
The story of Gideon, it’s so very perfect for this idea. Gideon is called by God to throw off the people who had been opressing Isreal. He rallies this giant army. And God says,”Naah, that’s too big.” So Gideon sends off a bunch of people. And God says again, “Nope, still too big. Send down everybody to the river and watch them drink.”
Most of them used their hands to drink the river water. Three hundred of them just bent down and lapped it up with their tongues.
Can you picture that? Somebody down with their head in the water, dog-like? Not exactly the behavior perscribed by Miss Manners.
God says, “Those are my people.” I love that God doesn’t go after the cream of the crop, the hoity-toity, the rule followers. He goes after the people who just dunk their heads in the water and slurp it up.
Their are only three hundred slurpers. And this is how God narrows the playing field down. He sends the slurpers into battle for him. And they rout the invaders.
The connection here is that God says, “I want to be such a small army that nobody can doubt that it was me behind it all.”
In effect, God says, “It’s not enough that you say ‘God did that’ I want you to say ‘Only God could have done that.'”
And so as a balanced this truth of scripture in brain with the passage of scripture I read, it occured to me that this was an ‘Only God’ moment, on a tiny scale. Only God could have orchestrated the timing of my contemplating Bill Hybels with my reading of Judges chapter 5.
But on a larger scale, I was feeling pretty challenged this morning. Disapointments bordering on attacks are coming in on a variety of sides. I’m happy to say that I responded to this by going to scripture. In the name of transparency, I’ll confess that’s not usually how I respond to challenges.
But it occured to me that when those water-lappers looked around at each other, and saw that just three hundred of them were going up and against an army, they might have felt some ways I felt this morning, on a much grander scale. It’s a small comfort, but undeniable. Perhaps one of the things I can think, as all these challenges move in on me, is that God is setting me up for a rescue as he so often has. At the end of it, He wants me to declare, “Only God could have gotten me out of that.”