– Winkie Pratney
Can you think of anyone less qualified than Gideon, who confessed he was the least of his family and from the least of the tribes of Israel? God knew that already, and He doesn’t seek the strong and powerful or persuasive of speech. He calls the least in the eyes of the world so that He is most glorified. Don’t ever think that God counts potential with size or strength. He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Gideon’s 300 men, composed of farmers and shepherds, took out 135,000 of experienced, battled-tested Midianite soldiers. Because Gideon was obedient, God brought the victory.
David was called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), yet he was an adulterer and murderer. But thankfully, as the psalmist writes, God “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10), or none of us could stand. God restored King David after one of the greatest prayers of repentance in the Bible where David writes, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2). David went from being a lowly shepherd to Israel’s greatest king (next to Christ).
Murderers seem to be a common occurrence with biblical characters and authors, just as with David and also with Moses, who had to run for his life after murdering an Egyptian and was a shepherd for 40 years in the desert regions. Moses was also not the best speaker, saying, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10), to which God replied, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:11-12). So there goes Moses, back to Egypt, a former murderer and shepherd, which, by the way, the Egyptians thought of as unclean, to lead Israel out of Egypt. That is just what he did.
The greatest persecutor of the church became her biggest missionary. Before Paul’s Damascus Road conversion, Stephen was stoned to death, and “Saul approved of his execution” (Acts 8:1). Then “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2), when “suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me’” (Acts 9:3)? Saul was later named Paul (meaning “small” or perhaps “humble”) because Saul means destroyer, and he no longer tried to destroy the church. He lived his life to build her up.
I remember when Jeremiah was called by God and told, “Oh, by the way, they won’t listen to you Jeremiah.” I thought, that’s a hard mission field to be called into. Knowing that they’re going to reject everything you say could be a little disheartening, but Jeremiah did the best he could because God told him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:7-8). Young, apprehensive Jeremiah needed help, and so “the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me. ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9).
I could have included so many more, like the Apostle Peter, Nehemiah, Joseph. The list goes on, but we can see that God will use everyday, ordinarily people like you and me because He is most glorified by this. I consider myself in the same class of people that Paul wrote about: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no one may boast in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29). That includes me for sure! Just think about this: “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).