I recently watched a movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (MMWE). 

It is a fantastical story about 26-year old Molly Mahoney, the manager of a magnificent toy store.  The 243-year old eccentric proprietor, Mr. Magorium, announces that he will bequest the store to Molly after he dies.  Molly is reluctant to accept the impending gift because she doesn’t believe in herself and in her ability to run the store.

Have you ever been in a similar situation where you had an opportunity for a change or something new (a job, a different residence, a proposition, a prospective mate) and your response was one of incapability, unworthiness, or disbelief the opportunity would ever work out?

There was a person in the Bible who shared these feelings, Gideon. 

“The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites.  I am sending you!  ‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel?  My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’”
 
— Judg. 6:14-15

On different occasions, I have questioned myself and have not believed in my abilities or experience when presented with a challenge.  During these moments it was difficult to logically understand how something would succeed.  Consequently, I turned away from taking the steps required to achieve it.  Personally, I responded much like Gideon, “But Lord, how …?”  The Lord’s retort to me (and to you) is the same that he gave to Gideon over 3000 years ago.

 “I will be with you….” 

— Judg. 6:16

We fall short of reaching God’s potential for ourselves when we do not take advantage of the opportunities that God puts in front of us, when we do not believe in ourselves and the gifts He has given us, and when we fail to see how we fit into God’s plan.

 ”People need the opportunity to do something more than they were given” 
       
— Mr. Magorium, MMWE

Opportunities

There’s a cable television series called The Big Idea hosted by Donny Deutsch.  The show highlights accomplishments of successful business people who have “made it big” in business with one idea.  Often the “ideas” revealed are those that we have all had, wondered about or shared with friends, but we never took the steps necessary to accomplish it. 

The angel of the Lord appeared to him (Gideon), and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you.”
 
— Judg. 6:12

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress hiding from the Midianites!  Gideon must have looked around in disbelief wondering if the angel was speaking to someone else.  A mighty hero? Maybe in his dreams.  Nevertheless, Gideon was inspired enough at that moment to climb out of the winepress, confront the opportunity and accept the challenge.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of the parable of the talents.  Each servant is given a number of talents to hold while the master is away.  Two of them use their talents to gain more while one buries his talent.

 I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. 

— Matt. 25:25

To this the master took the original talent from the servant and had him thrown “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).  All of us have been given some special talent and purpose.  “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28), we are to use our gift for a greater purpose serving others.

Don’t let fears of failure, embarrassment, other people and the unknown dictate your actions.  Pursue those opportunities that have been presented to you, using the gifts and talents that you have been given and look forward to being surprised by the results.

“Anything can happen” (when you believe)
       
— Mr. Magorium, MMWE

Believe

After years of working the same job and doing the same thing, it’s easy to fall into a stagnant, mind-numbing state of being.  It may be hard to believe that anything will ever change.  You go to work—you see the same people.  You go to church—you see the same people.  You come home—you see the same people (or not), and nothing changes.

In the bowels of the winepress, Gideon spoke like many of us have done or have wanted to, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us (or me)?” (Judg. 6:13).

Gideon may not have believed that the Lord had greater plans to use him and had just resigned to live his days out hiding from the Midianites.  In the movie, Molly shared similar sentiments, “It’s just what it is, nothing more.”  Have you ever had similar thoughts?  I have wondered to myself if there was “anything more.”  At times I have felt as if I am the only Christian on earth that hadn’t been given his “working papers.”

Gideon, like many of us, needed proof before believing, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me” (Judg. 6:17).  And the Lord did.

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way …” (Judg. 6:36).  And the Lord did.

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request.  This time …’” (Judg. 6:39).  And the Lord once again had patience with Gideon and showed him that it was indeed the Lord speaking.

Again, I can see myself in Gideon.  Even though I have seen the Lord work in my life time and time again, I still find myself questioning if it is truly the Lord working.

“Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  Those were the words Jesus asks his disciples in Mark 4:40.  Is He asking you the same questions today?  If your faith in Jesus is real, believe that He has more planned for you and wants more from you, and then live it out.

If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
— Matt. 21:22

‘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.’  

— Jer. 29:11

God’s Plan

Gideon assembled his army of 32,000 men to fight, but the Lord told Gideon “You have too many warriors with you” (Judg. 7:2).  Gideon was faithful in reducing his troop count as the Lord directed, and the Lord responded to Gideon: “With these three hundred men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites” (Judg. 7:7).

Many people often speak of this victory that the Lord gave to Gideon, but prior to it, Gideon had proven his faithfulness to the Lord in many less significant tasks.  Gideon destroyed his father’s altar to Baal, cut down the Asherah pole, built an altar to the Lord, and sacrificed a bull as a burnt offering.  We often see the results of people around us and want the same for ourselves, but what we don’t often know about is the years of faithfulness that preceded the visible result.

Are you faithful in the little things around you that the Lord has called you to do or are you just looking for the one big “moment?”

In the parable of the talents, those servants who utilized their talents well received more.

Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. 

— Matt. 25:21, 23

Where are you in your life?  Are you living it out to the fullest or do you feel it has passed you by? 

We often find ourselves asking and praying for “change,” but when we are faced with the actual possibility, can we handle it?  Do we embrace it?  Or are we just more comfortable living a mediocre life?

  • Don’t just go through the motions of prayer and sharing your “prayer request.”
  • Don’t disregard taking the little steps in your life because you don’t see the bigger picture.
  • Don’t stop believing that God has a wonderful and prosperous plan for your life.

Gideon lifted himself of the bottom of the winepress and decided to lead the fight against the Midianites.  It may be time for you to climb out of the bottom of your winepress and start believing that whatever you ask, you will receive. 

Gideon wanted proof that it was the Lord speaking; the Lord wants trust and obedience from us.  Live each day as a gift from God, not as a sentence for unhappiness.

Your life is an occasion, rise to it.

— Mr. Magorium, MMWE



 Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, He Said-She Said, in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel.  An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.