Friday, November 24, 2006
To Fleece or Not to Fleece
Remember the Old Testament story of Gideon. He is the the guy that put a piece of sheep’s skin (a fleece) on the ground to confirm God’s will. He asked God to do this by making the ground all wet with dew but the fleece dry. It worked. He then tried again asking just the opposite, for the fleece to be wet with dew and the ground around it to be dry. Again, it worked. Some see Gideon’s actions as a lack of faith. I’m not so sure.
I remember a friend of mine telling of a time in his family's life when his daughter had a large goiter on her neck. It wasn’t harmful but it was most defnitely an eyesore. The surgery to remove it, however, had the possibility of damaging her vocal chords. As a family they prayed and prayed but had no real peace about which route was God’s will so they decided to lay down a fleece, using the method similar to casting lots. He gathered the family together and put two items on a plate, one singifying “surgery” and the other signifying “no surgery.” They then prayed, asking God to show His will. He then held the plate up and shook it until one of the items fell off the plate. It was the one that signified “surgery.” As a result, they had the procedure and everything turned out fine.
Laura and I took a similar step of faith when I was an Associate Pastor in West Milton, Ohio and we were trying to discern if it was God’s will for us to take a Senior Pastorate position in Osceola, Indiana. We had prayed and prayed but wanted to be sure that our taking this ministry was really God’s will. We asked God for two things. First, we asked that we would get a unanimous vote from the church. Second, we asked that the Senior Pastor I had worked for in Ohio for the previous 10 years would see this as a good fit for me. After all, he knew my ministry strengths and weaknesses better than anyone.
On the Sunday morning I candidated in Osceola, after the services were over, Laura and I were getting ready to take the 4 hour drive back to Ohio. Before we left, one of the Elders asked me what kind of vote I was looking for that evening at their church business meeting in order to accept this position. I readily replied, “100%!” This Elder laughed. He told me that this church had not had a unanimous vote on anything in 30 years. He assured me that the people loved me but that someone would vote no just to vote no. He asked me to reconsider my thinking. The whole way back to Ohio we debated if we should change our fleece. We ended up deciding that we had specifically been asking God for this unanimous vote for weeks. We would stick to our request. To our awe, the chairman of the Search Committee called me that night to tell me that I had received a unanimous vote.
And if that weren’t enough, when I went into the office the next day and shared the details of the weekend and the results of the vote to my Senior Pastor, he replied by saying, “Scott, you know that I have always desired us to minister together forever, but I really believe that this is God’s will for your life!” Now I’m not advocating that all of you start laying down fleeces for every little decision, but Laura and I had no doubts as we drove the moving truck to Indiana, that we were right in the middle of God’s will.