In the recent movie-version of the classic story of Beowulf, we are given a sobering image of how multiple generations of Kings and mighty warriors carry a dark secret that haunts them for their entire lives: They each fall prey to the seduction of Grendel’s mother (played by Angelina Jolie). Grendel’s mother is the last of a monster race and is able to keep her species alive by taking on the form of a beautiful woman and sexually seducing those men who have the power to destroy this evil. As a result, these great warriors – and the people to whom they have sworn their allegiance to protect – must all suffer from the attacks of their demonic offspring. And the Kings, who had the strength and the destiny to heroically save their people, instead live a lie and die with hidden shame.
What must we men today do to avoid an ending to our lives of shame and regret? Much can be learned from the Biblical story of Gideon. This story begins with the Israelites ongoing struggle: “Once again” Gideon and the people of Israel were disobeying God and doing “what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” (Judges 6) They had been worshipping false gods and falling prey to the Baal religious practice of prostitution – again and again. As a result of their addictive sinful behavior, God removes his hand of protection and releases Israel and Gideon to the consequences of their sinful choices – fear and bondage. The Israelites fled to dark caves to hide from the Midianites.
Yet in the midst of Gideon’s sinful compulsions and before he had repented, God gave Gideon a vision for his heroic purpose – if he would turn from his sinful lifestyle and choose to obey God. God could have told him, “Gideon, you are a cockroach and a scumbag and have no more chances!” But we serve a God of redemption – a God of second chances. Instead, God sent an angel to give Gideon a vision for his life: “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you! Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel.” Gideon’s response shows his disbelief that God could have a good plan for his “unworthy” life: “How can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe, and I am the least in my entire family.” (Judges 6:15)
Often, we get caught in sinful addictions and do not fight to get out of them because we believe there is nothing better for our lives and that we are unworthy. In the words of men like CS Lewis, Larry Crabb and Frederick Buechner, we choose to drink from a cesspool instead of choosing to take a glass of the finest wine. We are fooled into believing that there is no good or special purpose for our lives and that God does not have our best interests at heart. When the battle gets fierce, we often just give in to our sinful natures by resigning ourselves to, “this must be as good as it gets.” That is a lie from the pit of hell! There is something better!
Gideon chose to fight for his heroic heritage by seeking forgiveness of his sins and building an alter as a monument of his decision to move forward in obedience to God. He burned the symbols of his pagan and addictive lifestyle – Asherah poles – and he pledged his allegiance to God. Gideon felt immediate peace and freedom when he finally repented and truly committed his life to God. So Gideon named the alter, “The Lord Is Peace.”
An heroic destiny is not only true for Gideon, but it is true for all of us who choose to obey God, repent of our sins, and “burn at the alter” our sinful lifestyles. God’s desire is that we live out His good and glorious purposes for our lives. God’s purpose for us is that we “become like his son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) In this same chapter in Romans, we learn that “since we are God’s children we will share his treasures – for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too.” (Romans 8:17)
From Addictions to Freedom (133 KB)