"Mom, you know Gabe, that speaker, we had an assembly with all girls today. He had this 8th grader come on stage and asked her to say "fact" or "opinion." So Gabe would say, "the sky is blue" and she answered "fact." After several of those, he said, "You are beautiful," and she laughed and said, "opinion!" And then he said, "You are talented," and she said, "opinion." He said, "You are smart," and she got real quiet and said, "opinion." And then he looked at her and repeated those three things and before he even said, "All of those are facts," she just lost it. And then her friends went up and all hugged her, everyone was crying."
Gabe = Gabe Salazar. A nationally-known motivational speaker for middle school and high school students. And evidently because he has spoken at their school for several years now, Esther feels like she is on a first-name basis with him
I came home and looked through Salazar's website. I felt a profound gratitude for this man who is working and offering his life to be used by God in public schools and secular environments to encourage and build up teens. What more could we parents ask for, what more do we need than people to come alongside our kiddos, sharing truth and pointing them to make smart choices?
I asked Esther in the car that day, "Do you think Gabe is a Believer?" She responded, "I don't know, he doesn't talk about God at school, but I can tell you God is talking through him."
Earlier that very morning I had been impressed by Paul Tripp's description of Gideon in Judges 6.
As the Biblical account opens, because of Israel's disobedience to God, they've spent seven years oppressed by their neighbors, the Midianites. Israel lost their homes, their crops and their livestock as Midianites invaded Israel's land to ravage it. Finally, finally, Israel cried out to God for help.
We find Gideon on a normal day, engaged with a normal chore, beating wheat in a winepress. He's at the winepress, not out in the open, because like the rest of the Israelites, he's hiding from enemies. He likely felt fearful, probably discouraged, and possibly even angry of having to be constantly aware of attackers who might steal and ruin all his family owned.
Little did Gideon know that God had already sent his angel who happened to be sitting nearby under an oak tree. Scripture says that the angel of the Lord approached Gideon (in his shame and fear), and says two very important things: "The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior."
I imagine in that moment Gideon did not feel like a Mighty Warrior.
Even before the angel instructed him to lead Israel in an important battle, Gideon starts whining:
"But sir! If this Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" Gideon complains that the God of wonders his fathers described is not the God he's seen evidence of in Israel. I love this - the Angel then replies to Gideon, "Am I not sending you? Go in the strength you have."
God calls Gideon in the midst of his weakness, his fear, his discouragement and names him a Mighty Warrior - not because of Gideon's natural strength and courage, but because of what Gideon will be able to do in the power that God will give him.
You may be familiar with the rest of the story, that Gideon started out with 32,000 men in his army but at the Lord's command pared it down (those who trembled, those who lapped water), ultimately defeating those Midianites with only 300 men. A few hundred instead of tens of thousands - so that the power of the Lord would be shown. All under the leadership of a discouraged, scared man who claimed that he was the weakest family member from the weakest clan.
According to Tripp, Gideon essentially says that God has the wrong address, the wrong man:
Gideon both misunderstands who he is and who God is. If you forget who God is in his power, glory and grace, and you forget who you are as a child in his family, you will always mismeasure your potential to do what God has called you to do. You will measure your capability based on your natural gifts and on the size of the task God has called you to face. Thankfully, since God is with you, you have been blessed with wisdom and power beyond your own that give you potential you would not have on your own. (March 19, New Morning Mercies)The best news - while Gideon's call to leadership is a powerful message from thousands of years ago, God still does this today! He sees his children when they feel broken, incapable, exhausted, discouraged. And then he shows up on a normal day, during a normal chore, and calls us out to a new life, new purpose, new vision. This ability to take on God's purpose, as with Gideon, is never measured on our natural potential and even experience, but on God's solid, sure, immeasurable power.
In my opinion, Gabe Salazar is a modern-day Gideon. Watch his six-minute "I am Second" video, where he describes God plucking him out of hopelessness. Born to a teen mother, abandoned by his father, he felt like his birth was an accident. This once-broken kid now travels the country - and world - encouraging kids that they have a purpose and can make great choices. And best - he carries this weighty message with humor and a light heart.
My mindset these past few months represent pre-angel Gideon. In the face of discouragement and disappointment, the reminder of Gideon stopped me in my tracks that my measuring stick has been my own strength and courage. And for my loved ones who are muddling through hard things, I've been measuring the future by their strength, their courage.
God, give us the grace to be done with that! You call us Mighty Warriors, and You are with us.
Go in the strength you have.
I can do that. You can do that.