But we need to take this question––“are you drinking?”––one step further. It should be joined together with “how are you drinking?” How they drank was the determining factor in selecting Gideon’s army. It is also one of the essential elements in God’s last days army, the army we are called to be.
“But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.” (Judges 7:4-8, NIV)
Here we see the God who sifts. His separating is based on their manner of drinking. God is not interested in size but desires to assemble an elite army, and his choice of who makes it is based on what would seem a small and incidental thing. But that which is minute often issues from a man’s core and is a sign of something far greater.
My father was a paratrooper in America’s Special Forces. When I was young he taught me how a soldier drinks water. After brushing my teeth I used to put my whole head under the faucet to rinse my mouth. “No, no, no,” my dad said, “I will teach you what I learned in the army. A soldier cups his hand and raises the water to his mouth rather than putting his mouth straight to the water. Then he sips the water in his hands.” This was exactly what the Lord was looking for: “Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouth. All the rest got down on their knees to drink…With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you.”
These three hundred were prepared and trained soldiers. They maintained a posture of alertness and readiness as they drank; they were prepared to spring straight into battle. The others drank in a selfish sought of way, getting on their knees and plunging their heads into the water. They would not be ready if an enemy was approaching; they were too focused on indulging themselves rather than what was to come.
Prayer: Father, I want to drink in your Spirit in the right way––not to indulge, but with the intention of doing battle. Make me disciplined. Let me recognize that the small things are not really small in your eyes, in Jesus’ name.