Sometimes God has to remove in order to reveal.
Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. Occasionally things change and some things just disappear.
A job that you wanted....that somehow slipped through your fingers.
A friendship that you thought was good....that just faded away.
The purchase of something that seemed perfect....that never materialized.
A relationship that you wanted to work....that ended before it even started.
A town that you thought would become your forever home....that you were forced to leave.
An opportunity you wanted ....that never came to fruition. Disappeared.
The removal of something is a hard thing to face....but sometimes it is part of the process. You just have to trust.
Whittling: the process of repeatedly shaving slivers of excess from a piece of wood in order to reveal a shape or design that is imagined to be within.
The shape that hides beneath the surface? Only the whittler can see.
The location of the slivers that obstructs it's view and must be removed? Only the whittler knows.
The tools needed to remove the unnecessary? Only the whittler has.
In order to get to the perfect design...Removal has to take place. And if the wood could talk - I'm sure it would say that the removal of the wood slivers hiding the design held deep inside is painful.
But...I trust the Whittler.
The book of Judges.
Context: Gideon, who struggled with confidence and in his ability to believe that he was actually hearing God, was facing a battle with a huge army: the Midianites. The army overwhelmed him, so Gideon put out a fleece before God to make sure that he was hearing correctly and that God would use him to deliver Israel.
God answered. Yes...I will use you. Go to battle. Do it now. So, Gideon went to battle.
Chapter 7 tells the story.
The Midianite army that the Israelites faced was great, in fact verse 12 tells us that the enemy filled the valley as thick as locusts and their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore. Overwhelming odds.
Now, Gideon had 32,000 fighting men with him. It was his strength. But the Lord had other plans:
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’
There was excess standing in the way of God showing His strength. So, God began the removal process so that He alone could be seen.
Now , if I were facing an army that size and if I had 32,000 soldiers at my disposal, I would have garnered every...single...one.
But God said it was too many men. They would boast in their own strength.
"Why do we need God? We can do it ourselves."
So, God sifted.
He removed the excess and the unnecessary. He took away the obstructions that stood in the way of Him revealing His ability and strength -He eliminated the things that the Israelites could rely on in order to build their faith in Him. In Him alone.
So....twenty-two thousand men left. Gone. But, again....God said it was still too many.
4 ...the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them out for you there.
He sifted again and this time, out of the 32,000 Gideon had planned to take into battle - there were only 300 men left. The odds were even more overwhelming.
This makes God smile...it is how He likes it.
Chapter 7, verse 7:
7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
I will save you.
Not your army...not your force or strength...not your provisions or wisdom...not your courage.
Through the removal process, God created a scenario where there would be no question as to who was in control. All excess was removed in order to reveal the true powerful nature of God. They would have their backs against the wall and when they won the battle, even the ones with the least amount of faith, would believe.
He sifted...and he whittled away the excess that was unnecessary so that they could see God at work.
God is a master creator and we are a creation known best by Him. The creator knows the design that He has in mind before He creates it. He knows what He wants to do with it....how He wants to use it....where He wants to put it...and He knows how get rid of the things that are unnecessary and things that obstruct the shape and its purpose. Things that get in the way. Roadblocks, obstacles, things that confine and sidetrack...things that influence and refocus...things that weaken and things that slow down our God-ordained purpose. The removal even assists in the decision-making process because if the option is not there anymore - it can't be chosen. And sometimes? It's for our own protection.
I've had quite a few slivers removed from my life and looking back? His design is good. His design is perfect.
God seems to take away things in our lives for two reasons, so that:
The design for which we created us can be revealed.
There is a way for God to showcase His strength in order to build our faith in Him alone.
We can't see the perfect design hidden beneath the unnecessary slivers - the things that must be removed in order to reveal.
That takes faith in the whittler.
And just as a whittler does, God uses different tools and different methods for the removal process in order to reveal the perfect design that only He can see hidden underneath the excess.
And the removal is sometimes painful.
Looking back through my own life, God has removed a relationship, a job, a friend, a hobby, a house, a church, an obsession...time fillers, money wasters, etc. Things that were encumbering my progress, my work, my calling, my growth and even my ability to hear God. He has also removed things that were blockades to me moving down the path that he wanted me to go.
He has removed slivers of things that I relied on, I had faith in and took pride in. Things that would cause me to believe that I could do it myself, things I found strength in, and things that I may have turned to instead of turning to Him.
God is a jealous God. He sees the design deep within - the design that brings your life to the fullness that He planned. A life that would be an influence on others. A life that would point others to Jesus.
Lord, whittle and sift my life so that the design that is hidden deep inside can be revealed.
A design that boasts of You.
And You alone.
My prayer today:
Father God, you are my Creator. You know me better than anyone. You know my heart, my history, my future and every thought, motive, emotion, strength and weakness within me. You created me from nothing and know the design that You had when You formed me. Take away things that get in the way of that design. Take away things that get in the way of pointing others to Jesus through me. Take away things that I hold higher than You. I want to live a life that boasts only in You and Your love and power. Give me strength and wisdom as You whittle and sift me. I trust you fully.