“And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, ‘Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.’”
Judges 13: 11, King James Version
“Fleece and Faith”
“Strike from mankind the principle of faith, and men (and women) would have no more history than a flock of sheep.”
What does it mean to me, in my everyday life, to have faith in God?
Have I ever put God to a “test” to see if I think He means what He says?
“The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting…Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the ‘One’ who is leading.”
“Faith is not shelter against difficulties, but belief in the face of all contradictions.”
As a young girl, I’ll never forget the first time I heard a Christian man our family knew, make this statement, “I’m going to put out a fleece and see what happens. Then I’ll make my decision.” I went to my dad and asked him what was meant by this statement. Up to that point in time, the only thing I knew was that the cute stuffed sheep on my bed was covered with woolly fur – called fleece.
My dad took me to his home office and pulled a Bible down from the shelf and began to tell me the story of Gideon in Judges 6. When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and told him he had been appointed to lead Israel against the Midianites, Gideon asked for a “sign.” He wanted something tangible to happen which would confirm the verbal message from the angel. We find God did as Gideon had asked, He consumed with fire the food Gideon laid on the rocks. But one sign wasn’t enough for Gideon. In Judges 6: 37 (K.J.V.), Gideon told God he was going to put out a “fleece,” “and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said.”
Have you ever laid out a “fleece” before God and insisted He give you a sign in order for you to really have faith that what He’s saying is true? Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed at yourself if you have! Many of God’s greatest children -- people we think of as stalwarts, pioneers, and Biblical heroes have succumbed to the natural desire. We all have, at one time or another longed for proof! Like children, we come to God and stomp our little feet, demanding proof positive. I know I have, and here’s how my tantrum has sounded, “Look at the mess I’m in. If You are really leading me God, then show me a sign that You are going to fix things.” Sound familiar?
Well, throughout my life, as I’ve walked with God more each day, I’ve come to agree with the English theologian, Geoffrey Lampe, who correctly observed, “Sight, or objective proof, is not the proper ground of faith.”
It was Jesus, who in speaking to His disciple Thomas said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” What Jesus was telling you and me is that the statement, “seeing is believing,” isn’t priority one in His kingdom. I love these words penned by St. Augustine which serve to shed more light on the topic of fleeces and faith: “Faith is to believe, on the Word of God, what we do not see, and is to see and enjoy what we believe.”
For a moment, let’s take these insightful words and apply them to the lives of Manoah and his wife, “Faithful.”
First, the Angel of the Lord came to “Faithful” and told her she was going to finally have a son, after years of waiting. What did this woman do? She believed -- period. She had a faith that took God at His Word. Why? Because long before the Angel of the Lord appeared to her, she had staked her claim in the territory of the God of heaven and earth. She knew her Father. She knew He was trustworthy. So she believed what He said.
Then, “Faithful” told her husband whom the Bible tells us was a, “I have to see it with my own eyes,” kind of guy. Thankfully, our Father in heaven is willing to give us all the evidence we need to believe just as He did for Gideon, Thomas and Manoah. But oh, how I long to be like “Faithful” who chose to believe because she knew the “One” whose word she trusted, rather than demanding proof from my Father of His love for me.
May your faith and mine today be a “believing” faith, not a “fleece” faith.
“Faith is not merely praying
Upon our knees at night;
Faith is not merely straying
Through darkness into light;
Faith is not merely waiting
For glory that may be.
Faith is the brave endeavor,
The splendid enterprise,
The strength to serve,
Whatever conditions may arise.”
“I prayed for faith and thought that someday faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had, up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.”
Dwight L. Moody
“Almighty God, who in Thy wisdom hast so ordered our earthly life that we needs must walk by faith and not by sight; grant us such faith in Thee that, amidst all things that pass our understanding, we may believe in Thy fatherly care, and ever be strengthened by the assurance that underneath are the everlasting arms; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit:hwww.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.