The Long Arm of the Lord

Usually, when you think of Gideon, you either think of the battle won with 300 men, ram’s horns, & lamps under clay jars, or you think of when he prayed & asked God to give him a sign to be sure it was God speaking; the dew & the wool. It isn’t usually told about how he knocked down his father’s idols, thus earning the nickname Jerubaal (“let Baal defend himself”). We’ve been talking about that in Club the last couple of weeks.

Gideon had the courage, although he did it at night, to destroy his father’s idols because God asked him to do it. He was still shakey about the whole taking orders from God thing, but he did it. And soon after, the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon (Judges 6:34). Gideon’s dad, an idol worshiper, ended up defending his son instead of getting upset with Gideon like the rest of the community did.

I told the kids to be so thankful if they were given a home where they are taught God’s ways at home, parents that love the Lord, etc. I reminded them how wise it is to follow their instruction & be grateful for it. To the others who aren’t so blessed, and we have some in our group, I reminded them of Gideon & how his courage & willingness to follow what God asked him to do gave his father courage to rise up against the community & think about his foolish idol worship.

The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Joash, Gideon’s father, turned to the Lord or not after this incident. But my father had a similar testimony. I want to write it out so it is not forgotten by my children. They are being brought up in a Christian home with all Christian grandparents & family. They are one generation removed from the miracle of seeing first hand how God transforms a person & whole family. I don’t want them to forget this story!

My dad grew up with an alcoholic father. His parents stayed together through the years, but were pretty miserable. The four children all dealt with things in different ways. My dad was a perfectionist, always working to be good enough. He was a good kid, teenager, & college guy. He & Mom grew up together & went to the same little school most of the way through. When Dad was a junior, his older sister had gotten pregnant with the band teacher. You can imagine how embarrassing that would be for a teen boy! Especially one who loved music. He was working to be in the OSU Marching Band. So, they transferred him to the big city school the last two years. This gives you just a taste of where he was coming from. This sister & her husband ended up staying together through the years, too, but both ended up dying of aids after years of crazy living. The sister found the Lord about five years before she died. What a change & joy it was to get to know her those last few years! She was a new person, litererally!

Anyway, back to Dad’s story. By the time he & Mom married & had two kids, he was the choir director at their church, yet still didn’t know God personally. They were attending a small group Bible study & found people who actually talked to God like they knew Him! Mom says she remembers looking at one lady’s Bible there & thinking, “She had to have just dragged her Bible through the mud to look like that! She couldn’t possibly have used it to do that!” These people were in love with Jesus & lived out their faith in front of Mom & Dad. One pastor challenged Dad to think about what would happen to him if he were to die that night. He went home, read through the New Testament that night & told Mom that if this was really true, they had to change the way they were living their lives. Dad at the time was selling life insurance & making good money at it. Mom owned & operated a couple beauty salons. They made the choice at that moment not to live their lives simply for money anymore, but rather give their lives completely to God & invest their time here on earth in whatever God called them to do. My grandpa’s quote on it was, “Don, you’re not playing with a full deck of cards!” This coming from a man who was so drunk he couldn’t talk right! But it was his dad! I can’t imagine how that would’ve felt! My dad was always so supportive & loving with me. He never personally got to experience that kind of love from his own dad here on this earth. I think they’re making up for lost time together as I write this.:)

He was the first in his family to give his life to the Lord. That older sister I mentioned earlier? Her firstborn son was the next! He had been on drugs & who knows what else, but he remembered Uncle Don telling the family he was changed. God used that to bring him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then came the baby sister & her husband. Then the older sister & her daughter & son-in-law. Then Dad’s middle sister! Then that sister’s daughter & son-in-law! Now I have several cousins in the ministry full time. There have been several of us in this generation who have helped start churches in several states. In fact, as I think about it, I do believe all of my cousins & their kids have a personal relationship with Jesus!

My Dad had the priviledge of leading my grandpa to his Savior just days before Grandpa died. Dad also got to baptize his mother a few years ago. Wow! God took that (our) family by storm! It went from a hell-bent, sin-shackled, sorry lot of people to a completely changed family! There are sin-scars, of course. Sin has it’s consequences. There have been some heartaches, huge life-altering mistakes, and even death through the years as a direct result of sin. But I do believe God has taken what Satan wanted to destroy & turned it into something beautful. When the Burton clan gathers as we did for Dad’s passing, there is a bond there that only comes through Jesus.

I never would’ve thought as a young girl praying diligently for my grandfather & other unsaved family members that I would see such change. In fact, I remember distinctly telling the Lord that I know in my head He could change Grandpa, but my heart told me he was a hopeless case. I never dreamed I would get to have the relationship with my aunts I have enjoyed. When I was a kid, we had nothing in common. Now we have most in common.

We won’t know this side of heaven what happened in Gideon’s family when God got ahold of him, but I saw firsthand what God did to ours! Never underestimate what God can do through you in your family, I told those kids last night. Keep praying! Keep trusting the Lord that He can reach that lost family member. He came to this earth to bring hope to the hopeless. No one is ever beyond the long arm of God’s love.

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