Heard a good story recently? Let me tell you a story from one of my favourite Biblical events. In the Old Testament book of Samuel, the Jewish tribes are facing a larger and more technologically advanced enemy in the Philistines. Whereas the Philistines have perfected iron weapons and have chariots at their disposal, the Israelites are country bumpkins with little going for them. As the two enemies faced each other preparing for battle, the King's son, Jonathan, slips out of the camp unnoticed with only his young armour bearer for company. As he approaches the Philistine lines he spots a group of enemy soldiers high up on a plateau with only a steep cliff between them. What Jonathan does next would rank at the top of anybody's "foolishness" meter. He turns to his young companion and says "let's go over closer so they can see us-perhaps God will act on our behalf for he can save us whether by many or a few."
Sure enough, as they get closer they are spotted, and, as enemy soldiers often do, they began to call out insults-questioning the other's lineage, I'm sure, besmirching each others' mothers' character-you know the type.
Then Jonathan asks God for a sign-if they say "come up here and fight" then it will be a sign that our "perhaps God" is on. Sure enough, they call Jonathan to come and fight and so he climbs up the cliff, does his ninja thing, and in the process, God intervenes with a series of events that leads to a rout of the enemy. (With stories like this, you really should read the Bible sometime.) So here's my question: Was Jonathan foolish? Sure, he did give God a chance to say "not this time" but, forgive me Jonathan, I always thought your test was kind of leading. It seems pretty likely to me that they would challenge you to come up and "rumble." Yes, I realize we are told not to test God, yet Jonathan is a great reminder that this does not mean we should be unwilling to step out and take risks to live out our faith.
John Wimber used to say that the way he spelled the word faith was R-I-S-K. For example, a couple of weeks ago I spoke about being willing to risk praying for healing for someone (and no, this doesn't mean I visit or subscribe to the practices of "faith healers" or keep my children from doctors as one reader charged).
The key is this: are we willing to live like Jonathan, believing and stepping out with a bias that "perhaps God is going to act on our behalf." Today, what is your "perhaps God?" Live like God will be willing and ready to act on your behalf and then give him a chance to do exactly that!.
Vern Tompke is the lead pastor of the Vineyard Community Church and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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