Bob Tamasy: Laid Out Any Fleeces Lately?

Monday, June 27, 2022 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Let’s face it: decisions are hard. Well, some aren’t, like, ‘Should I get out of bed this morning?’ (Actually, given the state of things these days, maybe that’s not such an easy decision either.) But often factors involved in decision-making are complicated.

 

This is why some people use the pro vs. con approach, listing the positives of one option and weighing them against its negatives. It might be, ‘Should we move – or should we stay?’ Or, ‘Is it really a good idea to buy a car right now?’ ‘Which college should I attend?’

 

Another approach to making decisions, but not always reliable, is to look for a sign.

I’m reminded of the guy who was considering leaving his present circumstances behind and starting off fresh somewhere else. He got into his car and determined to keep driving until he received a sign on what to do. Too bad he was so deep in thought that he missed the sign warning, “Bridge Out Ahead!”

 

This “looking for a sign” strategy is hardly new. In fact, we see a classic example in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges. Gideon was a very ordinary fellow, threshing wheat in his father’s winepress. An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Right away, Gideon suspected this day wasn’t going to be business as usual.

 

The angel proceeded to tell Gideon that God had chosen him to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites. His first reaction might have been, “Yeah, right!” He replied, “But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manesseh, and I am the least in my family.”

 

Even with God’s assurance that, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together,” Gideon wasn’t convinced. He answered, “If now I have found favor in Your eyes, give me a sign that it is really You talking to me.” Gideon then boldly decided to choose the specific sign he wanted from the Lord.

 

He stated, “look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You said.” The passage tells us, “And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed and wrung out the dew – a bowlful of water” (Judges 6:37-38).

 

Years ago, a friend who raised sheep for a number of years told me an interesting fact about woolen fleece – it’s water-resistant, because it contains lanolin. So, the fact the fleece was saturated, while the ground surrounding it was dry, was truly a miracle.

 

Despite this “sign,” Gideon couldn’t let go of his skepticism. Maybe he was an ancestor of one of Jesus’ disciples, “doubting Thomas.” So, he cautiously decided to flip the sign on its head: “Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.’ That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew” (Judges 6:39-40).

 

Apparently, Gideon was thinking maybe the fleece was defective – never hurts to check, right? In the following chapter, we’re told God indeed used Gideon to defeat the Midianites, throwing in a couple more signs and miracles along the way for emphasis. The “rest of the story” could be the focus on another post, but clearly this simple guy was one who liked to follow signs.

 

What does this teach us? Are we to respond in similar fashion, insisting that God give us a sign if we sense Him leading us to step far outside our comfort zones?

 

Occasionally this might be appropriate, asking the Lord to confirm what He’s directing us to do. But most of the time He wants us to act in faith, stepping out when we believe He wants us to do so; at other times remaining where we are.

 

Circumstances like this remind me of Psalm 37:3-9, which says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

 

However, lest we act presumptuously and move ahead of Him, God includes this admonition: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”

 

What difficult decisions are you facing right now? Are you considering “laying out a fleece,” asking the Lord to provide a definitive sign? After all, Ecclesiastes 3:1 declares, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” But most of the time, a better plan is to pray fervently; spend time in the Scriptures, asking God to speak to you through them; and when available, seek godly counsel from trusted friends.

 

Using as many resources as possible before making crucial decisions – not just waiting for a sign – is one certain way to avoid getting “fleeced.”


* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.


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