Defeated & Discouraged. Outnumbered & Overwhelmed. Can you relate? I can.
Lots of times I feel like I’m losing the battle of life. Even at its best, it’s like what Chuck Swindoll calls ‘three steps forward and two steps back.’ It sometimes seems more is against me than with me. Most of the time it’s just my negative emotions, but it often leads me to slow down or just stahl in my journey.
Lonnie Lehman challenged some pastors at the 2017 Fall meeting of Baptist Bible Fellowship International at Friendship Baptist Church in Owasso, Oklahoma. He told the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer. I think you will be challenged as well. You can read the story in 1 Samuel 14:1-21
The Israelite army was outnumbered and surrounded by the Philistine army. King Saul had 600 of his best men hidden in fear. They felt defeated and discouraged. But his son, Jonathan, rose to the challenge. He would not sit still.
We are not told why, but something triggered him to approach the enemy. So he challenged his armor bearer to join him in the quest. He would go to the enemy and see if God would give them a victory. The armor bearer jumped at the chance and the two of them took off. No one even knew they were gone.
They took an unusual route between some rocks and up a steep hill. They determined that as they called out to the Philistines if they were challenged, they would accept. Well, the Philistines challenged them and the battle ensued.
Though outnumbered, Jonathan and his armor bearer, killed 20 enemy soldiers within a half acre of area. This encouraged the rest of the Israelite army. Even those who hard turned away came out to fight. Jonathan’s decision to not sit still was contagious.
As Lonnie shared his passionate message, I realized a few principles. I often feel discouraged and defeated. Sometimes it’s easy to cower down and not do anything, like the Israelites. But real leadership will get up and make a move. So I hope these thoughts will encourage to do something when you when you feel like taking the easy route.
It’s easy to be discouraged when you’re not noticed. Have you ever been unappreciated for all the things you do for friends, family, or at work? Sometimes you think, it really doesn’t matter what I do. But in this story, we don’t even know the name of the armor bearer. Talk about not being noticed. And no one in the Israelite camp missed Jonathan either. Both were overlooked.
But Jonathan issued the challenge and the armor bearer accepted and a great victory was won. Sometimes it just takes one person who is willing to step out and be courageous. Then others will join in. No one likes to be first. But somebody needs to take the first step.
I love the end of the story. As the Israelites witnessed the great victory of Jonathan and his armor bearer, they were encouraged and got into the battle. People that hadn’t even been in the fight, joined. Courage is contagious, but so is fear. Choose to be courageous.
Jonathan didn’t know what would happen. But He was sure God could get a great victory if they just tried. But if they did nothing, God didn’t have a chance. I love what he said, “Come, and let us go over … it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6).
When you feel outnumbered by the obstacles of life, sometimes you just have to get up and move forward and see what God will do. Maybe God will do something BIG.
Jonathan and his armor bearer didn’t go up the usual route to the top of the hill. I’m guessing it was well-guarded. They went up a more difficult path, crawling as they went between two giant, sharp rocks.
Sometimes God has a strange journey to victory. Your path may not be like anybody else’s. Lonnie shared that he suffered as a child with dyslexia and ADD. He had been called names and had difficulty learning. But as he stepped out for God, God blessed and he is now a pastor of a large church in Texas that is starting several new churches. He allowed his challenges to challenge him to see what God could do. Will you?
A lot of people don’t think God will use them. Well, he might not use you like others think. He may not use you like you think. But as you step out and challenge your self in a new arena, you will be amazed at the unique victories God will give you. Charge your hill.
Your path may be more difficult that you realized. It surely could be more difficult than someone else’s path. But imagine if you don’t accept the challenge. You can’t have victory unless you’re willing to get in the battle.
Jonathan’s battle was on only a half acre of land. But he took care of the enemy in this small space.
You may not know what the far future hold for you. Each decision will open new opportunities and new challenges. So don’t worry about it. Just make sure you take care of the opportunities God has put in front of you right now. Take your life one day, one challenge, and one victory at a time.
Lonnie Lehman is pastor of Granbury Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas.