Links Daily Devotional

Beyond Our Barriers

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14, NIV)

I like Phil Mickelson. And I love that he won Sunday in Gullane, adding his name to Muirfield’s list of illustrious winners. But honestly, I’m not sure what to make of his spiel about needing to “learn to win” on links golf courses.

I know, Mickelson grew up in Southern California where the game is not played along firm ground with wretchedly penal bunkers dotting every fairway and protecting every green. But Tiger Woods grew up there, too, and well, uh, Tiger won the Open Championship three times in his first 10 tries as a professional. Ben Curtis, he of Ohio’s parkland courses, hoisted the claret jug first time out.

Yes, Mickelson applied himself to learning. Good for him. On Sunday it produced the result he most desired. But dare I say it? All this “I wasn’t ready” business sounded like, at the very least, a beat-around-the-bushes explanation. Like Moses gave.

Or a lack of certainty. Like Gideon.

Or a “sorry I’m late to the party” beg-off. Like Thomas.

We’re all good at this. We talk ourselves right out of what God has made us or skilled us or called us to do. We think we need more seasoning. And sometimes we do. But God is always growing us over time, and something doesn’t ring true when we appeal to God’s “maturing us” right about the time he asks us to do a hard thing, especially a thing we’re not comfortable doing.

Gideon was no warrior. He was a farmer, secretly threshing wheat out of sight of the enemy. So when God called him to the task of leading the Israelites against the oppressive Midianites, Gideon was reluctant. We might say, “Understandably so.” But this was God calling Gideon, even labeling him “mighty warrior,” and Gideon backed away. Like us, he let his lack of personal confidence overrule his recognition of God’s strength.

I do not need to know you to encourage you. God has made you in a unique and gifted way. While you may not possess traits that you would consider excellent, God has given you understanding and ability rightly fitted for the ministry he wants you to do—even if it is ministry to just one person! So be encouraged to take up your calling. Avoid excuse making or rationalization. Run in such a way as to win the prize, remembering all the while the question that God asked Gideon: “Am I not sending you?”

Jeff Hopper

July 24, 2013

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