In our case, the army was very little indeed.
Picture the scene: four children up at the front of the room, playing the part of Gideon and his army of 32,000 men. Between them, one Roman helmet (artistic licence), one plastic Viking sword (likewise) and one Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers™ water pistol (sword shaped). For trumpets, they had a set of hand bells (and believe me, they made more noise than any vuvuzela).
Getting the children to sit down one by one, by way of illustrating God’s instructions that Gideon should reduce the size of his army, was of course quite difficult. Well, who would want to miss out on ambushing the church music group (a.k.a the Midianites) with hand bells and plastic novelties?
After some persuasion, a little compromise and a lot of noise, we all learned – or at least, I hope we all learned – that Gideon’s lesson was this: when you face a challenge, it’s more important to trust and obey God as he guides you through it than to spend time marshalling your own skills, strength and resources. When the task is complete, he wants us to understand that ultimately it is he who brings us through. Gideon faced down the mighty Midianite army with just 300 of his own men. But they were 300 men who were determined not to fear an enemy God had sent them to face and who believed that their God would ensure that they won the day.