Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (HCSB)
It’s a beautiful thing here that God would refer to Gideon as “mighty warrior” even though what we find in the following verses regarding Gideon is almost exclusively contrary to what comes to mind when you hear the expression “mighty warrior”. There is a lot of whining, a lot of indecision, a lot of cowardice, and a lot of doubt on Gideon’s part. But curiously God doesn’t mention any of those traits or qualities, only the previously unseen attribute: “mighty warrior”. In fact, to continue looking at the story of Gideon it’s hard to make a determination as to when we could look at him and really see a point in time that he truly began to embody this description. Was he ever a “mighty warrior”?
There is a quality that is revealed here that far better illuminates God’s character than Gideon’s. God has the uncanny ability to see in us who He is making us to be even before we are that person yet. And if Gideon’s story is any indication, there may be a chance that we may never fully become that person while we are here on earth. But God doesn’t lower the bar because of our slow growth.
I’m not a staunch proponent of the modern stream of thought that says “you can do anything you put your mind to”. That idea reeks of enlightenment thinking and has done much to spread individuals too thin in areas where their talents and gifts are thick. But there is an important principle that can be seen here: you can indeed be anything that God tells you that you can be. In fact, we could take that one step further and say that you can be anything that God has already made you to be.
After the initial act of conversion, Christians live in a curious state that theologians call sanctification. Essentially this means that God sees you in a certain way and He is daily, moment by moment, shaping you to become that thing that He has already created you to be. As in the instance of Gideon, God had made him a mighty warrior, but it was going to take some time to get him there, maybe even the rest of his natural life. Conversion is about far more than just having your sins forgiven, it’s the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of reclamation. We are introduced to a fierce pursuit of the “us” that God recreated us to be through the power of the cross of Christ and we engage the process of reclaiming the fullness of the image of God that was birthed in us at Creation. Os Guiness actually says that the most important job of the church is to “Christianize Christians” (though he was paraphrasing GK Chesterton at the time), which is really just another way of describing discipleship, spiritual maturity, and progressive sanctification.
Our temptation will be to see today’s mistakes and stumbles as a definitive commentary on our condition. And to be honest each moment is meaningful, the sum of our life is made up of nothing but moments. However, the definitive commentary on our condition should be left to the Master Commentator, the Author of our story, and this Author sees us differently than we will be tempted to see ourselves. He says, in Ephesians 2:10, that we are His “masterpieces”, His poetry, His art, His perfect and beautiful creation. And all of those things right now, not once we “get our act together”. He can look at us with all of our mistakes, all of our fears, all of our doubts, and all of our rebellious tendencies and say “Today you are my masterpiece, not tomorrow, not ten years from now, but today I see you as My masterpiece.” He never sees the current version of you without first seeing it through the filter of the future version of who you will become, who He’s created you to be. And that is a beautiful motivation to become what we have already been made to be.