Saturday, November 15, 2014

Putting Out The Fleece

I want to post a little something about a news story I just read and found interesting. It calls to mind something from my youth, from my childhood in Pentecostal Christianity.

Pentecostals do not believe the age of miracles ended with the age of the Apostles, as do many branches of Christianity.

It was common for us to seek God's guidance in our daily lives, especially when we were uncertain about possible courses of action. We took inspiration from the story of Gideon's fleece in the Old Testament book of Judges.

Gideon was a Judge of Israel and was being called upon to deliver the once again oppressed Israelites, this time from the hands of the Midianites and Amalekites. But he wanted assurance from God. Here I will take up the story directly from the Bible:

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.

And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.

And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. (Judges 6:36-40, KJV)

Whenever someone said they were "putting out a fleece," we understood they were seeking a sign from God.

Here's a link to a story about a mechanic in San Antonio, Texas, a man named John Casey, who "put out a fleece" or asked God for a sign.

He asked God for a sign - "if I'm doing the right thing in my life, give me a sign" - and feels he got it. A mere two days after asking he and his son were working on a car in his garage. A car part laid on a cloth rag formed a Jesus-shaped grease spot.

Mr. Casey says, "The little hair I have left stood on end and just really... I don't know if you've ever got a deep feeling when you know that God is here with you. I got that feeling."

And Father Eddie Bernal of Saint Benedict Catholic Church weighed in:

It's quite possible that this is a very significant event, a very real event, and possible could have been done by him, just to let the person know, I'm with you and you're not alone and do not be afraid.

Such things are easy to make fun of and laugh off. I used to do it during my more skeptical days (not so long ago, I confess). Yet I recall many incidents from my earlier life that - if I am to be honest with myself - seem more than "mere coincidence." Some that almost, as Casey said, made my hair stand on end.

I suppose some people feel "connected to" or "in tune with" the divine, and some don't. Some don't seek such connections because they don't allow that such connection is even possible - that there is no divine and thus nothing to connect to. I'm not criticizing these folks. They may very well be correct and the rest of us a bit too much the dreamer.

But more people seem to find such a connection than not. Is it possible that is because the "connectors" look for it? Are the skeptics just crying "Bah, humbug!" or are they correct? Whatever the truth, I do enjoy seeking connection. 


  1. I am open to these sorts of things, and think it would be foolish of me to ignore them. But a "Jesus-shaped grease spot" is possibly a little "out there". I wonder how detailed the image was, and how we know it looked like Jesus (since we don't know what he looked like)? But then again, God could accommodate his "revelations" to the expectations of the recipient.

    I'm enjoying your posts on these unusual events.

    1. Yes, a skeptic would bog down on "we don't know what Jesus really looked like." But that mechanic knew what his idea of Jesus looked like. I agree with your "accommodation" hypothesis. The atheists' purported "which God?" trump always leaves me flat for that same reason. I think of there being one divine reality; however, humans and their cultures are diverse and that divine reality is grasped at in a plethora of ways. If so, might not that also explain why divine occurrences like near-death experiences tend to be interpreted along religious cultural lines?

  2. Yes, I agree about NDEs. I'm not sure what I think about them - whether some are "real" or all are only in the mind, but your explanation of being interpreted along religious cultural lines fits both explanations.