Paint for yourself a mental picture of courage and I’m confident it will not involve a man hiding in a hole in the ground. And yet God tells us that when He called Gideon (in Judges, chapter 6), hiding is precisely what Gideon was doing. The context of this story makes it clear that Gideon was far better at making excuses than he was at making history. His heart of fear was exposed as soon as he opened his mouth.
Like a teenager desperate to get out of cleaning the toilet, we hear Gideon grasping at any facts that will buttress his argument for disobeying God’s call to lead his people out of their captivity. “God, let me explain some realities you may not be aware of and which clearly show I’m not the right person for this messy job…” And no doubt, like Moses with his speech impediment, Gideon was right. He didn’t have what it would take.
But Gideon did not yet understand that God delights in asking His people to do what is impossible in their own strength so that He might show His own strength when He brings the impossible to pass! Faith often requires courage because it means doing the right thing even when all of our fears tell us to argue rather than to obey.
If our boys are going to become men of valor, we must plant the vision deep in their hearts that courage is not a lack of fear but rather a stubborn faithfulness. Courage steps out like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, into what appears to be a fiery end, because we trust the voice of God more than we trust the voices of fear and practicality calling us to passivity.
Our boys do not need to feel strong, they need to know that their God is strong. Let us shelve the superhero image of Mr. Incredible, simply putting up with the monotony of “normal” life just waiting for that special moment of heroism in which to rescue a litter of puppies from a burning building. It is the courage of a boy to heed the voice of God in the everyday decisions of normal life that will shape him into the kind of man willing to die in a burning building or in a fiery furnace.
As we cast this vision of everyday courage before our boys we can look forward to seeing him produce those brilliant moments of genuine courage. When he sees the kids at school mocking Christ, when he hears hurtful words being fired at the girl already damaged by the merciless ridicule of her peers, when the image flashing across his computer screen is telling him that excitement is only one click away, he will know these are the moments for courage.
In the end, God pried Gideon out of his winepress and pressed him into obedience in spite of his fear. And in doing so, we see how God saved not only a nation from their bondage but a very normal man from his fear. So tonight, turn off the TV for a few minutes, open up your Bible to the story of Gideon in Judges 6, and challenge your family to trust God even when fear and all the evidence tells us to hide in a hole.