Summary: What happens when men come face to face with God? This message introduces us to Gideon. God will do great things through Gideon's life but when we first meet him he is a timid farmer. Gideon seems to be anything but hero material. But God looked beyon
Men of God and the God of Men - Judges 6:11-32 - June 19, 2011
How many of you here this morning are familiar with the cartoon strip, “Calvin and Hobbes”? It’s one of my favourites, mostly I think, because of Calvin’s incredible imagination. Now, for those who are not familiar with it, Calvin is a young boy, about 6 years old, and Hobbes is his toy tiger. Everyone else in his life sees Hobbes as nothing more than a stuffed animal, but in Calvin’s mind, Hobbes comes to life and they share wild adventures together. And Calvin is always imagining himself off somewhere, whether it be battling aliens on a distant planet, flying a fighter jet, or exploring the remote wilderness in search of new adventures. Whatever he is doing, he is always the hero of his own imaginings.
And I think that’s what makes him so appealing to so many of us. We can relate. We have shared the same imaginings. We have dreamed the same dreams. Men, as young boys, have we not pictured ourselves as the heroes of our own stories? Whether it’s scoring the winning goal in overtime, taking down the bad guy with our bare hands, discovering some long lost treasure, or emerging the victor in some forsaken battle as we save the day – we have longed to be the hero.
As young boys, dreams like this sustain us. They nourish our thirst for adventure and excitement. They make the long hours of school bearable as we, through the wonders of our imaginations, leave behind the stale walls of the classroom, and head out into the great unknown – a place where we are the masters of our destiny and the heroes to whom others turn in their time of need.
And this is just what Calvin does. But he also learns something along the way. He learns it’s a lot easier to be the hero of your own story than it is to be a hero in real life. Outside the worlds that he imagines, Calvin is a relatively ordinary 6 year old boy. He doesn’t have any superpowers. He isn’t particularly skilled or gifted at anything. Instead he finds himself stumbling through each day just trying to make sense out of the world in which he lives.
His arch nemesis is one of his classmates, a young girl named Suzie. Calvin is always laying elaborate plans in which he sees himself emerging victorious in the struggle that the two of them have, but, more often than not, it is Suzie who comes out ahead.
And men, as we grow older, we find that life is a lot like that as well, don’t we? That’s it’s easier to be the hero of your own imaginings than it is to be a hero in the course of each day? Real life tends to get in the way of the future we once envisioned for ourselves.
But real life heroes do exist. They don’t tend to think of themselves that way. Most of them seem to see themselves as rather ordinary men who were just doing their jobs, or just doing what needed to be done. Let me tell you about two such heroes …
Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon were both members of that elite unit known as ‘Delta Force.’ On October 3, 1993 they sat in a helicopter in the skies over Mogadishu as part of Task Force Ranger. The mission for the day was to apprehend some of the key advisors to a Somali warlord by the name of Mohamed Aidid.
Things did not go as planned. First one, and then a second, of the Black Hawk helicopters participating in the operation were shot down. The forces on the ground were taking heavy fire from all sides and were having difficulty getting to the crash sites in order to help rescue the downed aircrew. From high above the streets below Randy and Gary could see crowds of armed Somalis converging on the crash sites. It became apparent that the men below, if they still lived, would not be able to defend themselves long enough for ground forces to reach them. Three times Gary requested permission to be inserted into one of the crash sites to help defend that position until other forces could relieve them. Twice he was denied. The third time permission was reluctantly granted.
Gary and Randy fought their way to one of the helicopters, extracted the injured crew members, and set up a defense. Now if you’ve read the book, Black Hawk Down, or seen the movie of the same name, you know what happens next. The crowds moved in. Gary and Randy held them off for some time, but, with ammunition running out, first one, and then the other, is killed. However, they had not given their lives in vain. One of the men they had pulled from the wreckage, a pilot by the name of Mike Durant, survived. Mike has written a book about his experience called, “In The Company of Heroes.” Surely two of his heroes would be Gary and Randy. They stood their ground against impossible odds and defended those who were unable to defend themselves. That’s the stuff of a young boy’s dreams. But it’s also the stuff of real life for Jesus has said, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) And that’s the very things these two men did.