Laying Out a Fleece (and other bad ideas)

January 24, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership, Teaching

Have you ever heard of someone laying out a fleece?  It is perhaps the most insider church jargon of all time (well, maybe something about the balm in Gilead might beat it).  People often use that expression as if it is a common expression.  The expression comes from the story of Gideon. (Read here)  In the story, God clearly speaks to Gideon and tells him that Gideon will lead Israel in a victorious battle.  When I say speaks, what I mean is God speaks, you know like with talking and hearing.  This was no inner-prompting or assurance, like we deal with.

God clearly speaks but Gideon is not convinced that God will give him victory, so he puts out a fleece (think piece of wool, not light jacket) on the ground and asks God if God “really” wants him to do it, then only the fleece will be wet with dew the next morning, and not the ground around it.  God does it, graciously.  Then the next day, Gideon does it again but in reverse.  This time the fleece has to be dry but there is dew everywhere else.  God again meets the request, graciously.

So in Christian Jargonese, laying out a fleece has become a way of confirming God’s will.  However, that story should be thought of as a story of fear and a lack of trust in God.  God said it, with words, out loud.  What further confirmation was needed.

Compare this with our man, Nehemiah.  He believed that God wanted him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, with no audible voice.  He prayed and then by faith seized the opportunity when it came.  Too often we are gripped with fear, not because we are not sure about what God wants, but because we are not sure we want what God wants.  “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I look stupid trying to do this?”  “I need to KNOW that God is going to make this work.”

We need to stop kidding ourselves, it’s not confirmation that we need, it is trust to follow after God.

Am I being too tough?  Fine, we can start laying fleeces.  But do it in the opposite way of Gideon.  Don’t do it where God has to do a miracle if he wants you to take a risk, but he has to do the miracle if he doesn’t.

Here is the “fleece” you can use.  “God if you DON’T want me to do (crazy, faith-filled scheme) then bring a monkey to my front door carrying a rubber chicken, and have him tell me in Pig-Latin that you don’t want me to do it.  Otherwise I am going to (crazy, life-changing, fulfilling, best thing you’ve ever done faith-filled scheme).”

Or you can just trust God and go do it.


4 Responses to “Laying Out a Fleece (and other bad ideas)”
  1. Aaron Gonzalez says:

    Thanks for mentioning this. The “fleece” thing is a pet peeve of mine because it is used all the time and you’re right… it’s not having faith, it’s having a lack of faith!

  2. Carolyn Loften says:

    Way to suck all “faith believing” statements we have relied on for years.

  3. Gennie H. says:

    Good post. Enjoyed reading this.

  4. Scott Sutton says:

    Good stuff!

    Sidenote: I’ve actually never heard this phrase used before! It sounds more like basketball jargon to me…”setting the pick”, “alley-oop”, “laying out a fleece”

    …maybe it’s just me…

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!