Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1435: The power of faith

  Senator Vivian Davis Figures, Alabama Senate Minority Leader, asked each of the eight Democratic senators to say whatever was on their hearts and minds. I did not congratulate anyone. I did not say I was glad to be re-elected. I did not say what I intended to do. I did not say what others should do. Because we are so few, just eight out of 35, I shared my version of the biblical story of Gideon. I want to share the same with you.

  Gideon was a great general. He had some 32,000 troops. God told him to go forth and fight the Midianites. Gideon’s response was that he was willing to fight but he did not have enough troops. The Midianites had far more, “a whole host of troops.” Instead, God directed Gideon to reduce his troops. He had too many troops to fight effectively.

  Gideon reluctantly began to reduce his troops, eagerly watching for God to say, “That’s enough.” When he got down to 10,000 troops, he stopped. Gideon could not even conceive of fighting the mighty Midianites with less than 10,000 troops. Indeed, he could not conceive of fighting them with 32,000 troops. God directed him to further reduce his troops. Gideon eventually got down to just 300.

  With just 300 soldiers and the Midianites having maybe as many as 100,000 troops, Gideon knew that he had to fight differently; that he had to depend completely on God; that he had to obey God; that he had to follow God’s directions; that he had to take what he had to make what he needed.

  Following God’s directions, Gideon had his 300 soldiers surround the Midianites when the enemy was fast asleep. Each soldier took three items with him; a horn; a torch; and a vase. On a signal they were to blow the horn. On a signal they were to break the vases. On a signal, they were to light and wave their torches and shout.

  When the first signal came, the soldiers blew their horns in unison. The Midianites awakened in a panic because the sound was blasting from every direction. When the second signal came, the soldiers broke their vases in unison. The Midianites grew even more panicky for the breaking sound came from every direction. When the third signal came, the soldiers lit and waved their torches. In every direction the Midianites soldiers looked, they could see moving lights. It was a fearful moment coming on the heels of the two previous moments. The fear of the unknown, both of sources and dimensions, took over.

  Then Gideon’s 300 soldiers began to shout, “The sword of Gideon! The sword of Gideon! The sword of Gideon!” The Midianites soldiers were greatly panicked and began to run wildly in every direction. Gideon’s 32,000 soldiers then chased the Midianites soldiers. A great victory was achieved.

  The story of Gideon tells us that we can accomplish great things with a few people if: we act in unity; we take what we have and make what we need; we follow God’s directions; we fight creatively; we trust completely in God.

  The story of Gideon tells us that sometimes we have just enough resources to cause us to think that we can do it ourselves; that we can do it like those who went before us; that we can use the traditional tools of struggle; that we don’t need God; that we don’t need to use our creativity.

  I must confess that I don’t know how to fight when the other side has more than three times as many troops; more than three times the weapons; many times the resources; the overwhelming advantages in every way. However, I am willing to trust that right makes might; that we have enough troops; that we have enough resources; that we will be guided if we are open to direction.

  I wish I had also said this to my fellow senators. I believe that the capacity to overcome great odds with a few people and limited resources did not cease in biblical times. I recall that in 1965 in Selma, Alabama, a few people overcame great odds. One side had virtually everything: all the laws and lawmen; all the guns and gunmen; all the banks and money; all the businesses and jobs; all the offices and officials; all the state newspapers and televisions and radio stations; and all the state troopers and sheriff deputies.

  The other side had virtually nothing. There were just 550 persons, many of them children, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. However, they took marching feet, singing songs and praying prayers and overcame great odds. The battles were later called Bloody Sunday, Turn Around Tuesday and the Selma-to-Montgomery March. Bloody Sunday was a really low point. However, subsequent events proved that it was a beginning rather than an ending. The result was the 1965 Voting Rights Act which provided the right to vote to African Americans and others left out for so many years, for so many decades, for so many centuries.

  The strugglers for voting rights took a little and did a lot. They were creative in using songs, marching and praying as tools of struggle. They acted in unison for marching, singing and praying forges unity. They trusted in God because the odds were so great against them.

  The odds are now greatly against we eight Democrats in a state without a single statewide Democratic elected official and only a few in the legislative branch. We must take what we have and make what we need. We must be righteous, not self- righteous. We must be open to the highest direction.

EPILOGUE – Faith is a very powerful thing. Hope is powerful, but it only allows us to move when we might not otherwise move. Belief is powerful, but it only causes us to move consistent with our perceptions. Faith is very powerful because it forces us to move in spite of what we perceive. Faith is very, very powerful.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

No comments:

Post a Comment