By JPC Allen
I’ve never been very good at finding role models, except in fiction. A few years ago, I became interested in finding a role model in the Bible. Although Jesus is the perfect role model for believers, I wanted to find someone with my weaknesses—worry, self-doubt, timidity—and learn how God helped them overcome those faults.
As I examined people in the Bible, I grew very discouraged. The great heroes in the Bible seemed the complete opposite of me. Their weakness was arrogance, so confident in their own powers that God had to knock their legs out from under them, let them land flat on their backs, and then show them how to pick themselves up by relying on His strength instead of their own. Samson, David, Peter—they all fit this mold.
Eventually, I came across a man who seemed to suffer from my weaknesses—Saul. Not fiery zealot Saul who turned into super-missionary Paul. Nope. I mean crazy, murderous ol’ King Saul.
As bad as he turned out to be, I’ve always felt sorry for King Saul. I understand how he could make one stupid decision after another. He did what I’ve done—panic.
He was not a man of confidence. When Samuel announced he was king, Saul hid. Later, Saul and his army waited for Samuel before engaging the Philistines in battle. Samuel was coming to perform a sacrifice to gain God’s favor. After waiting almost a week, and with his troops scared and scattering, Saul panicked and performed the sacrifice himself, a huge violation of Hebrew law.
After a battle with the Amalekites, Saul didn’t follow God’s command to kill the king and all the sheep and cattle his army had taken. When Samuel confronted him, Saul tried to convince the prophet that the sheep and cattle were spared for sacrifices. Samuel didn’t buy it. So Saul admitted he sinned but fell back on the old stand-by of panicking people, passing the buck. Saul said he was afraid of his own men and gave into their demands of keeping the best of the sheep and cattle alive.
It’s my fault, Samuel, but not really.
So there was my role model, a man who ended up almost insane and got himself killed with three of his sons. I wondered why I couldn’t find anyone in the Bible who overcame their lack of confidence. Maybe God could only use strong people with lion-sized egos for great deeds and leave the more mundane work to scaredy-cats like me. That belief was as discouraging as identifying with King Saul.
And then on a quiet morning walk, a name came to me: Gideon.
When God first called Gideon, he called him a mighty warrior. But Gideon doubted the description. He was hiding in a wine press to thresh wheat before the invading Midianites could take it. Gideon carried out God’s first order, destroying his father’s altar to Baal, at night because he was afraid of his family and neighbors.
When God inspired Gideon to assemble the Israelites to drive out the Midianites, Gideon asked for two signs to make doubly sure he was doing what God wanted. As the Israelites travelled to confront the Midianites, God told Gideon he wanted him to use only three hundred men so the Israelites would recognize that it was God who had beaten their enemy. Gideon was worried about this tiny force because right before the Israelites attacked, so God told Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp and eavesdrop. A conversation between enemy soldiers gave Gideon the encouragement he needed.
When Gideon had doubts, God was right there to support him. In other stories of the Bible, when a person doubted God, he or she often got a harsh response from Him. But I think the difference is Gideon didn’t doubt God and His powers. He doubted himself. I believe God doesn’t mind genuine doubt, if we really have questions that we need answered before we can have confidence in following God’s will.
It’s very comforting to know that God can use me, like Gideon, even when I’m scared. I often feel I should have more confidence if I am doing God’s work as a writer. But Gideon was scared when he destroyed his father’s altar and still got the job done.
God did such a thorough job of building up Gideon’s confidence throughout the story in Judges that eventually he was ready to lead the three hundred men against thousands. He really was the mighty warrior God said he was when He first spoke to Gideon. God knew it all along. Gideon just had to realize it.
Stepping out into the world of publishing has scared me in ways I never anticipated. Since I’ve seriously pursed publishing over the last five years, I’ve had two short stories see the light of print, and a publisher is interested in more of them. If I’d stayed hidden in my personal wine vat, none of this would have happened. But God has gently nudged me out of it, bolstering my courage each step along the way. He knows what I need and what I am capable of doing. I just need to realize it and realize God can use a scaredy-cat just as easily as He can a lion.God can use a scaredy-cat just as easily as He can a lion by JPC Allen #ACFWBlogs #writing #writetips #christianfiction Click To Tweet
JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. A former children’s librarian, she is a member of ACFW and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts to beginning writers. She also leads writing workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. Join the adventure on her Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.