“If only I were a warrior; I’d grind those Midianites like wheat.” Gideon unwedged himself from the rocks where he was hiding and spit in the direction the marauders had gone. “Maybe I’ll turn their camels into glue, too.”
He kicked a warty gourd and it bumped along the ground til it smashed itself against an ancient oak.
“Hello, mighty warrior.”
Gideon’s heart sank to his navel. He snapped his neck around, ready to duck for cover. No one was behind him.
“I’m talking to you.”
Gideon pointed an index finger at his heart, a question on his face.
“God heard your prayer.”
“I didn’t pray.”
“Yes, you did.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you…oh, never mind. You’re going to fight the Midianites.”
“You’re kidding, right? Maybe you haven’t heard, but we’re the wimpiest tribe of Manassah, and I’m so far down the food chain, well – you know.”
“Doesn’t matter. God picked you; you’re going.” The man rose.
“Okay, Lord, I get the picture. Uh, stay here and I’ll whip up a little offering.”
He scurried off, wishing this was all a bad dream and that he’d wake up.
“I hope he likes goat,” Gideon blubbered, carrying the meat back to the old oak. Broth slooshed out of the pot when he stopped. “He’s gone.” A look of relief flooded his face.
“Over here. Put it on the rock.”
Surprised, he cringed, but did as he was told. The stranger touched it with his staff and fire leapt from the rock, vaporizing everything. He vanished, too.
Gideon swallowed. Hard.
The next attack and a few less squash left him fuming. From behind a tree, he shook his fist at their retreating backs. “You won’t get away with this. Why, I’m mad enough to…”
His eyes darted around him. Why was he always putting his foot in his mouth? “Uh, Lord, what I mean is – if you want me to fight – would you, like, cover this fleece with dew?”
In the morning, he rolled himself off his mat before the sun raised its head. He ran to the threshing floor and lifted the soggy mass of fur. “I knew it – this is just great. Okay, Lord, you know it’s really early and there’s always dew. Mind if I try again? Uh, could you leave this one dry? Oh – and make the ground wet.” He smirked. “That should do it.”
Lowering the fleece, he covered the puddle he’d created. The next day, he padded over to where it lay and squeezed it. It felt as dry as his mouth. He glanced at his feet; there was mud oozing from between his toes.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, he wet his lips and blew his horn, summoning the fighting men to the area, twenty-two thousand of them. Hardly enough. He waved his hand past his nose. “Whew!” Twenty-two thousand unbathed men. It was going to be a long day.
“Not so fast; there are too many.”
“Are you sure, Lord, ‘cause…”
“The men with knocking knees? Send them home.”
“If you say so. I’m sure you know what you’re doing.” He wrinkled his nose as they ploughed past him. “Okay, that only leaves ten thousand. Now what?”
“Still too many. I’ll sift them for you. Send them to the water to drink.”
“Sure.” He waited while they splashed in the stream, knuckling each other for a place on the bank. “Now what?”
“See those three hundred?”
“The ones who drink funny, like dogs?” Gideon allowed himself a little chuckle. “You want them to go?”
“Nooo…I want them to stay.”
Gideon was tempted to go back and check the fleece again. Just to make sure. “Well, I’m gonna trust you on this one. But – three hundred men – sheesh!” He scratched his head.
“Trust me. Now, go down to the Midianite camp.
Gideon surveyed his men, their tunics dripping and their knees grimy with mud. Their mini bath didn’t make them smell any better, either. He sighed and shook his head. “Just let us get our weapons.”
“Sorry. No weapons. You only need three things.”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“Trumpets, empty jars, and – let’s see – torches.” The Lord smiled. “Humor me.”
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