Unusual Ways

Living on a ranch, we have seen our share of unusual events…

But what I am about to share with you today, although it is one of my favorite stories, it can also definitely be counted as…

Bizarre.

That is one word that I can think of to describe the event that transpired on an ordinary, normal visit to the vet.

What we expected to be commonplace, familiar and routine, turned out to be…

Weird.  Peculiar.  Unexpected.  Astonishing.  Bewildering.

Definitely unforeseen and unanticipated…

small-morris

Morris’s first day on our ranch

For we left the vet with a guest…

 

A small, chocolate-colored, furry creature with a very long nose…

An orphan moose:D

Yes, you “heard” me right!  A small, calf moose orphaned by his mother, rode home with us that day in our pickup.  He sat curled up at my feet on the floor…that is, until he proceeded to fill my half of the cab with an aromatic lake!  My feet quickly scrambled to higher ground, and I was thankful we were almost home.

The first few days took a little while to get him settled, as we determined the best way to look after him.

When we have orphan calves on the ranch…either because they have been abandoned by their mother, or the cow that is trying to raise them is having complications…we will try one of two things.

Priority is always to make sure the calf is fed, and while a calf will do alright receiving his nutrition from a bottle, he will do better if we can find another cow to adopt him.  If this doesn’t work, the calf is given a name and becomes affectionately known as…

A bottle baby.

So we decided to do the same for Morris:D

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Morris and the cow

We had a gentle cow that seemed to not mind him…in fact, she was almost mothering him…but, alas, it was not to be…

 

So Morris became good friends with our calf bottle…

And he grew…and grew…and grew…

Morris was quite a character, with a unique personality, which brought us a lot of laughter and joy.  We found out he had an affinity for chocolate and potatoes…

Not together, mind you:D

That little bundle of fur that flooded our truck and interrupted our days and nights with his constant requirements for food, brought a lot of laughter and joy to our lives and the lives of others.  Many people would come over for the opportunity to feed and pet a moose:D

Morris lived on the ranch for almost a year.  As he got older he would take treks out into the bush…sometimes he would be gone for a few days…but he’d always come back.  Then one day he headed off into the bush to be what he was meant to be…

A bottle baby no longer…

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Morris and his first bottle

But a moose, living free, in the forests and swamps of the wilderness.

The story of Morris always brings a smile to my face, and it also reminds me that some of the unexpected events and unasked for circumstances – good or bad, new or difficult – which take place in our lives, are opportunities to grow…to learn…to experience life in a way we never have before…to be a part of something that encourages others, while at the same time making our own lives richer.

THINKING IT THROUGH

This week I have been thinking a lot about the account of Gideon found in Judges 6 and 7 in the Bible.

The events that take place in this story would change the course of Gideon’s life…in a way that he would have never predicted or asked for…

And it all started one day while Gideon was grinding grain.

Unexpected Visitor

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Raging, racing waters

It only takes drops of rain to create a trickle of water.  A few trickles of water combine to make a stream.  Streams turn into rivers which can cut their way through valleys with such force that they change the landscape by uprooting full grown trees and carrying mammoth size rocks in their powerful grip.

 

I wonder if Gideon ever looked back at that day when the angel of the Lord came for a visit under the oak tree in Ophrah and thought of it as the raindrop that began the course change of his life.

For that day, his unexpected visitor revealed to Gideon some unanticipated truth.

Unanticipated Truth

That day, Gideon discovered who he was in the sight of God…and that God’s perspective did not at all line up with Gideon’s perspective.

While Gideon was fearful, hiding from his enemies…God saw him as a valiant warrior.  Gideon saw himself as weak and insignificant…God saw him as one with great strength.  Gideon believed he had been abandoned by God, but the angel of the Lord assured him otherwise.  God was with him…and was going to send him on an unimaginable mission…

Unimaginable Mission

Enemies had been terrorizing Gideon’s homeland for seven years…enemies so oppressive that when they swept through the land, they would leave it plundered and impoverished.  To survive, Gideon’s people would conceal themselves in hideouts until the danger had passed.

Once again, the enemies were advancing…like a horde of locusts that covered the valley…so many that they were unable to be counted.  So powerful, that nothing and no one would be able to stand against them.

It was the face of these circumstances that God revealed Gideon’s mission…

Through the hand of Gideon, God would bring deliverance to his people…

With the most unusual provisions.

Unusual Provision

I can only imagine the trepidation that Gideon must have felt when he sounded the

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Morris waiting for his favorite treat…

trumpet, calling men to come and join him in the battle against their enemies…and the relief that must have been his when 32,000 men showed up!

 

But even with 32,000 men behind him, Gideon was still concerned, so he asked God to affirm His promise…that God would indeed save Israel by Gideon’s hand.  As a test, Gideon placed a fleece on the threshing floor, and asked God to make the fleece wet while the ground stayed dry.  When he awoke the next morning and was able to squeeze a bowl of water out of the fleece that had been laying on dry ground.  Gideon wanted to be double sure of God’s answer, so he asked God to this time keep the fleece dry while the ground was covered with dew…

And that was exactly what happened.  Gideon had his answer.  Armed with the assurance of the promise of God’s plan and with 32,000 men, it was time to begin to make battle plans.

But, the next morning…the provisions with which Gideon thought he had…were drastically reduced…

Instead of a strong powerful army, God reduced the army…

From 32,000 men to 300 men…

That is less than 1% of the original number.

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Morris enjoying a piece of chocolate:D

Then God told that it would be with these 300 men that He would save Israel and give the Midianites into Gideon’s hands.

 

Unusual provisions.

Gideon followed God’s instructions in sending the thousands of men home, but in his heart he was feeling fear.   That night, after the thinning process was completed, God told Gideon it was time to attack.  He said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah, and listen to what they are saying.  Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” (Judges 7:9, 10)

That night Gideon experienced another provision of God…

The courage to do the work that God had given him to do.  Gideon and his servant did go to the camp, and what Gideon heard there did indeed encourage (literally “in courage”) his heart.  He bowed down and worshipped God, and then rallied the troops…the 300 men armed with trumpets, torches and empty jars…to get up and get ready to be a part of the deliverance that God was going to make happen through them…

That very night.

And with that Gideon went from being a fearful man, hiding from his enemies, who believed he was weak in strength and abandoned by God…

To a valiant warrior, equipped with courageous strength, accompanied by God Himself, who would lead the way in delivering his people from their enemies…

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

morris-waiting

As Morris got older, he would climb the stairs and wait outside the door for his bottle:D

Sometimes the path that God sets before us is unusual…unexpected…even unasked for.  Sometimes the work that He has for us to can seem overwhelming in its tediousness or crushing in its magnitude.

 

In fact, sometimes it seems…

Impossible.

From the story of Gideon I have learned some key truths that can enable us to stand firm and move forward with courage while walking on the path that He has set before us and completing the work He has given us to do.

God’s View of Me vs. My View of MeFor we are God’s handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) 

As I read this story I am challenged and comforted by the fact that God’s view of Gideon was vastly different than Gideon’s perspective of himself.  While Gideon saw himself as weak, of little strength and abandoned by God, God saw Gideon as a mighty warrior, equipped with courageous strength, who God Himself was with.  As Gideon was able to lay aside his perspective of who he was, and begin to trust God’s perspective, he became just what God knew he was…a valiant warrior, equipped with courageous strength, who God was with and through whom God brought a mighty deliverance.

In the same way, as I exchange my limited, and often inaccurate view of who I am and who God is…I can begin to trust the truth of who God is, as revealed in His Word, and discover just how God sees me in Christ…

When this transformation happens, I am able to become a little more of who He created me to be, for I am not weakened by the lies of my imagination.  Rather, I am strengthened by the truth of who He is and who I am in Him, and in Him I find courage to move forward with the task He has set before me.

God’s Plan vs. My Plan – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In just a few days Gideon went from a man who was hiding from his enemies to a valiant warrior through whom God brought deliverance with only 300 men.

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Sometimes Morris would come right into the house for a drink!  As he grew, he could reach up to 6 feet with his long neck:D

Now if that is not a course change, I don’t know what is!

Key to being able to follow God’s plans for my life…and to making those course changes that He sets before me is an accurate understanding of who He is, what His promises are to me and who I am in Him.  On my own what He is asking me to do may seem impossible…but equipped with His presence, His promises, His strength and His provisions…that which seems impossible…or unbearable…or too overwhelming…

Becomes possible.

God’s View of What I Need vs. My View of What I Need“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)

So often I think that God’s provision for me will result in “gain” of some type…wisdom, strength, provision…because I am “lacking” in some way.

And this is just how He does provide, for that is what He has promised!  Wisdom when I ask for it (James 1:5)…strength as I need it (Psalm 46:1)…provision for every need (Philippians 4:19).

But as I read the story of Gideon I come face to face with this little nugget of truth…

Sometimes God’s provision means that He will “thin me”…reduce me…in order to get rid of that which is a hindrance in keeping me from trusting Him as I should.

Sometimes this removal…this thinning is of the dross…the sin…the garbage…that entangles me and keeps me from moving forward.

But sometimes it is the removal of the very gifts and provisions that God Himself has given. 

The physical strength…the monetary means…the business savvy…smarts…people…my reputation…my wisdom and understanding…my home…my assets…

Even my very way of life…

And my life itself.

None of these are “safe” from the scope of God’s provision of “thinning”.

Nor should I think or feel that I need to protect these from God…hold them back…shield them from His hand…

And yet when I am going through God’s thinning process that can be exactly what I want to do.

To hold back, instead of placing it into His hands.

You know, I have found that it is all too easy to place my confidence in the very gifts that God has given to me…gifts that I begin to trust instead of God Himself.

That is a dangerous place to be…and not in a good way:(  For when I place my trust in something other than God, I am placing that thing in God’s place…and it becomes an idol.

When God chooses to bring into my life the provision of “thinning”, His purpose is not to harm me, but to refine me.  As this process takes place, He gives me eyes to see…ears to hear…a mind to understand…a heart to believe and trust…

In Him…and Him alone.

CONCLUSION

As God,

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Morris, the Gentle Giant

  • Teaches me unanticipated truths – truths of who He is, His promises to me and who I am in Him
  • Reveals unimaginable missions – massive course changes, unexpected route modification or a “sameness” routine to life
  • Supplies unusual provisions – always what I need…even “thinning”…

I begin to see and believe that His plans are good, His provisions are enough, His promises are unchanging, and His presence is constant…

And I learn to live life in the realm of His promises, His presence, His plans and His provisions.

The result?

A life lived confidently…boldly…without fear…

A life lived to bring Him glory.

A life lived to bless others.

Just like Gideon.  As he discovered the truth of who he was in God’s sight, learned to follow God’s unusual ways and trusted God’s provisions – even when it meant humbling himself under God’s mighty hand and going through the thinning process – God provided him with all that he needed – courage, strength, plan, wisdom, people, provisions – to complete the mission God had set before him…in God’s way.

And the same is true for you and me.  For as we discover the truth of who God is and who we are in His sight, as we learn to follow His unusual ways, trust His provisions, and humble ourselves under His mighty hand – even when it means going through the thinning process – He will lift us up!  He will encourage our hearts and strengthen our minds, granting us His joy and peace so that we can stand firm in Him, move forward with faith as we live life confidently, boldly and without fear…to His glory…and to bless others.

And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

morris-house

One day Morris walked right into the kitchen…linoleum and moose hooves are not a good combination!  No one got hurt, but there was a lot of commotion as Morris skated his way back to the door and outside to where there was more traction for his feet:D