To Fleece or Not to Fleece…

A Different Kind of Fleece

A Different Kind of Fleece

My dad was a minister. Since he was multi-talented, Dad often had other professions: college professor, consortium director, nonprofit executive director, and Navy chaplain. When employed elsewhere, Dad often filled in as a guest preacher for ministers taking vacations, for churches in between ministers, or to promote Christian charitable organizations.

Since he seldom preached in the same church twice in one month, Dad recycled one particular sermon repeatedly. And since my brothers and I often accompanied him on this “preaching circuit,” we heard this particular sermon so often that we practically had it memorized. Thus, the following name was a dirty word to us, growing up as the PKs, or Preacher’s Kids.


Gideon was a rough and tumble “judge” in ancient Israel. Since God didn’t like the idea of the Hebrews having a king, but understood the need for an day-to-day leader, He created the position of judge to help lead those wayward Israelites. These judges didn’t sit in courtrooms; they were often leading the Hebrews into battle and spoke for God in foreign lands.

Gideon was no different. At one point in Gideon’s judging career God asked Gideon to lead the Hebrews into battle against a mighty people, the Midianites. Naturally, Gideon was filled with trepidation at the thought of having to go into battle against an army of “Goliaths” for his day.

So, Gideon laid out a piece of fleece from a sheep and asked God to make it damp by the next morning and yet keep all of the dusty middle eastern ground dry all around this piece of sheep fur to indicate whether He would protect Gideon and the Israelites from harm. God did.

Gideon reversed the fleece and asked God for a sign twice. Both times God did as Gideon requested just so Gideon would know that battle was God’s will.

Today many people ask God for certain unusual conditions to be met in order to indicate whether the path they think God wants them to take is truly the right path. I am no different.

There are a myriad of reasons why one probably shouldn’t do this on a regular basis. Many theologians argue against it. But, since this is a part of the Bible and God at least was willing to “play along” with Gideon’s very human requests, I think there are times in our lives, when faced with making a big decision, that “laying out a fleece” is not such a bad idea.

Sure…God will be with us no matter what, but if God “paves the way” for the big decisions of life, it’s a little easier to stick with a course of action, when difficulties arise while pursuing it, if we truly know God wants to to do that persevering thing.

When I felt like God was asking me to complete a master’s in counseling psychology midway through my life, I knew it would be no easy feat. I would have to work very hard to achieve that.

My family would have to make sacrifices because of it. It would be costly. It would be tiring and I’d probably feel stressed beyond stress. Thus, I laid out a series of “fleeces” (modern-day style) to discern if it was a good idea.

God met those fleeces time after time, even when the odds of some fleece happening was unlikely. And I was right–that master’s cost me a lot and it cost my family even more. But, I persevered and graduated in December 2011.

When I felt God asking me to create Compassion Counseling Center, I again asked God to “pave the way” and make certain things easy that should have been difficult. It basically created itself. And good things are happening every day because of God directing that little enterprise.

Thus, when God asks me to change directions yet again (particularly since I’m now past my prime), I feel it’s important to really seek God’s will through prayer and make sure that it isn’t just MaryAnn wanting to do something different. I feel this way even more when I know changing directions is either not going to be accepted by most and/or it’s going to be costly again.

I’m now at that uncomfortable crossroads again.

What is interesting this time is that God seems to be pulling me in two directions–the path I’ve taken and the path that would be a new direction. So, I’m almost forced into the fleece thing.

I believe that God often uses other people’s comments to point the way, especially when we ask God to use other people to confirm what we think He may be telling us to do. That has happened several times in this case and it’s been pretty “out of the norm” for the usual conversation fare from people who wouldn’t normally comment on things in this way.

On the other hand other “fleeces” I’ve requested don’t seem to be “materializing.” So, I’m left with trying to discern if only more time is needed, a “third path” is actually possible that might be a blend of the two, or if I’m hallucinating.

Let’s hope the latter is not true.

Monday’s Post: How’s your vocabulary these days?

You Might Also Like: Jesus is a Nomad and Lessons Learned from 9 Weeks at a Nonprofit Counseling Center

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015 at 11:31 pm and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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