I recently spent some time studying Gideon with my ladies Bible class. 300 men fought a sea of warriors while we watched from thousands of years away and marveled at God’s preference for the small. We talked a lot about our weakness. And God’s strength.
Last week, I picked up my husband’s study Bible and started in Luke reading the story we tell at Christmas. Right there in chapter one Gabriel appears to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. He looks at her, a young girl in a country town, no wealth or status or pedigree, and he says, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
My study Bible cross referenced a verse in the book of Judges here, Judges 6. Suspicious, I flipped pages and found the verse. This one:
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
The Lord is with you… Gideon.
According to the study Bible, these phrases are practically identical so that the words God spoke to Gideon may have been the very same words spoken to Mary.
Awesome, for one, because Mary may have known those words. Every man in her family would have memorized them as a boy, and it’s not a stretch to suppose she’d heard them repeatedly. She would have known, too, what God did through Gideon (after that most promising introduction)—saving His people in the most unconventional of ways. When the angel said, “O favored one, The Lord is with you,” Mary could only guess at the impossible God was preparing, but impossible it would surely be.
Later, in the angel’s words to Mary we find this powerful truth:
"For nothing will be impossible with God."
God loves impossible. Or rather, God loves upending our expectations about what’s possible.
With Gideon and Mary, both, God chose the unlikeliest of people to deliver a nation. The entire Christmas story seems improbable—a king born in a manger, a heavenly proclamation made to shepherds.
You see, we think the best people will be used by God. We think the most important people will experience His blessing. We think training and education and experience and status and connection and wealth matter—that somehow we’re making ourselves worthy of His attention.
But God doesn’t work with our resources. He has plenty of His own. He doesn’t choose his servants based on their qualifications or what they have to offer. Consistently, God chooses his servants based on their lack of qualifications and what He has to offer through them.
Why? Because, as He told Gideon, God knows we’ll take the credit for possible.
If there’s even a chance we could have done it on our own (as if that’s a thing) we humans will assume that’s what happened.
But when what happens is impossible… that’s when people start looking around.
I say, we ought to expect more impossible. At Christmas I’m reminded that God does impossible things, that He did and He will. I’m reminded that God will surprise me—that He loves surprises—and that I ought to expect Him in the unexpected. I’m reminded, too, that God might be calling me, made-from-dust me, to do something impossible.
When God talks to Mary and Gideon, He says, “The Lord is with you.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that He names His son Emmanuel.
All Christ followers, all of us in the heavenly family, are called like Mary, called like Gideon, to be vehicles of impossible, to have faith and be obedient and watch as God works wonders among us.