Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Samuel Chapter 14

The story of Jonathan and his armor bearer is I Samuel chapter 14 is one of my favorite Old Testament stories. Jonathan just cannot stand the fact that the enemies of God are in the Promised Land of God’s people. He is offended by the presence of the Philistines because their strongholds in Israel are a reminder of the Hebrews failure to faithfully follow God. God’s great name is being disrespected by heathens and Jonathan feels compelled to do something about it. He doesn’t want to sit around idly like his dad (lounging under a pomegranate tree), so he grabs his armor bearer and they march over to the nearest Philistine garrison which sits at the top of a cliff. When they get there, this is where you would figure that human self-preservation would kick in. They are looking up at a garrison full of enemy soldiers on top of a cliff. Jonathan and his armor bearer are all alone, outnumbered, and in a bad position. This is a “no win” situation. This is where most of us would say, “Hey, we tried. We came over here and made a show of our displeasure…now we’re gonna go back to the safety of our camp.” That’s what most sane people would do. But Jonathan is a man of faith…he is a man who loves God with every fiber of his being and cannot stand the way God’s chosen people in their chosen land have been corrupted by outside influence. He says to his friend, “Come let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. Perhaps the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” They don’t even try to sneak into the Philistine garrison. They show themselves to the enemy. They climb up the cliff hand over hand. They get to the top, probably exhausted from the climb…hands shaking…surrounded by foes…and they unleash a whirlwind of pain on the Philistines. Jonathan and his armor bearer strike down 20 men in hand t hand combat and the entire garrison flees in terror before them.

Interestingly enough, we actually talked about this passage when we were on our mission trip in Haiti a few weeks ago. The trip leader, Mike – the founder of CORELUV Intl., gave our group a challenge one evening based on story from I Samuel 14. I want to share his challenge with you. Go back in your bible and read what Jonathan said to his armor bearer in verse 6 (I also wrote it out in my paragraph above). Does anything stand out to you are particularly strange there (Besides the fact that two men want to take on an army by themselves)? One word really stands out to me – “perhaps.” Jonathan says, “Perhaps the Lord will work for us.” This simple statement is an incredible testament to the faith of Jonathan. He does not know for sure that God is going to bring him victory. He does not know what is going to happen when he gets to the top of that cliff. There is a good chance that he and his armor bearer are going to die, but regardless Jonathan knows that something needs to be done about the evil presence in Israel. No matter how this battle turns out…no matter what the outcome…Jonathan knows that he will stand for the Lord.

I meet people all the time who want to know God’s will for their lives. The answer is pretty simple. Love God. Love people. Make disciples. You do those things; you are definitely staying within God’s will! But that answer isn’t good enough for most – they want to know exactly what they are supposed to be doing. They want to know what it looks like specifically for them to love others…to love God…to serve in this world. They want details. They want dates. They want options. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that on this crazy journey we call faith. There are times when God will speak very specifically to us - through prayers, into our minds, through other people, etc. There will most likely be times in your life when what you are supposed to be doing with your life is crystal clear to you. Yet that is not always the case. Sometimes we don’t know what the next step in our journey looks like. Sometimes we are not told exactly how we are supposed to be serving the Lord. There is a beauty to that unknown future. There is this fearful wonder that spreads over us when we have to trust God without having all the answers…we have to move forward in faith without understanding the end game. That is what Jonathan was experiencing at the foot of that cliff. As he looked up at the overwhelming odds, I can imagine a crazy smile spreading across his face as he turns to his good friend and gives the comforting words, “Hey, let’s head on up and fight – maybe God will be with us!” He knew that if God wasn’t in that endeavor, it was doomed…and he still stepped out in faith.

Can you do the same? There are things in this world that are wrong – plain and simple. I was surrounded by wrongness for 11 days last month in Haiti…surrounded by beautiful children who were starving…surrounded by unique and amazing kids who have no families…surrounded by poverty, pain, struggle and helplessness. There are all kinds of things that exist in this world that need to be fought against. There are all kinds of things that should make us angry…that should drive us toward loving action as followers of Christ. Yet so many of us sit in neutral, because we feel like God has not told us specifically to do something. You don’t always get a memo from God on what you are supposed to be doing. Sometimes you just need to act. Sometimes you just need to say, “This is wrong…I am going to do something about it…and PERHAPS God will be with me.” Can you trust God like Jonathan did? Can you step out without knowing where the journey is going to end? Can you step out in faith knowing that you could fail? Knowing that if you fail, you will still trust that God is in control and you will move on to the next mission faithfully? Too many times, we sit back in fear and do not step out in faith and we wonder why God never does amazing things in our lives. It’s time to get upset about the twisted and wrong things that exist in this world. It’s time for us to get our hands dirty and to stand for the honor of God’s name in this world. PERHAPS the Lord will work through us…

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