by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman
Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. 1 Samuel 14:6 NIV
When my kids were teenagers, autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coleman house revolved around one thing: NFL football. Our favorite game commentator was John Madden. He was an expert on the game: first as an NFL player, then as a Superbowl Champion NFL coach.
Madden’s players would occasionally question him on what he ordered them to do. They didn’t see the logic in his instruction. They wanted to know his reasons why.
Madden’s response to a questioning player was always the same: “It doesn’t matter if the horse is blind; keep loading the wagon.”
I love this quote. It may have been meant for football players, but it contains a nugget of wisdom for Christians as well. Sometimes God calls us to something that just doesn’t make sense. To us.
I’m pretty sure the soldiers in King Saul’s army had some questions about their particular situation. They faced a fight that looked like they could not win. Philistine raiders had spread out across the land. This enemy was far better equipped for war than the Israelites, years ahead in the manufacture of metals. They carried iron swords and spears and knew how to use them. In contrast, the Israelite troops carried pickaxes, hoes, and winnowing forks, fashioned with inferior materials. The situation was grim.
Saul’s son, Jonathan, camped with an army of about six hundred men. Only he and his father had adequate weaponry. I imagine that night as they waited on Saul to order their move on the enemy, Jonathan began to wonder. Was his father going to remain immobile forever? How would this standoff ever end?
Someone had to do something. Jonathan decided to risk a secret mission into enemy territory. He turned to his armor-bearer. “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men,” he told him. “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6 NIV).
They passed between two cliffs and approached the enemy garrison on watch. A skirmish ensued. In a few minutes, twenty Philistines assigned to the post had fallen to Jonathan and his armor-bearer. The Philistine camp was shaken. They began a hasty retreat.
Saul and his soldiers watched the confusion from a distance in disbelief. They didn’t understand what was happening. But obviously, God was on the move. The army sprang into action and pursued the fleeing soldiers. And the Lord delivered Israel from a powerful enemy that very day.
There are other stories in which biblical heroes chose to trust God in the face of insurmountable odds. David, too small in stature to even wear Saul’s armor, faced down the fierce warrior Goliath with a hand-full of stones. Gideon and an army of three hundred surrounded a Midianite camp of thousands. What would possess any of them to take such risks?
They went, but not because of confidence in their warrior prowess. They trusted that while their perspective might be limited, the Lord’s was not. They knew that God’s ways were higher than theirs. And what God wanted was the only thing that mattered.
They chose to trust in the Lord. Even when they couldn’t see what would happen next.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about “blind faith.” They placed their trust in a God they knew to be faithful, powerful, and good.
We can trust in a God who sees the big picture. We can have confidence in His plan. There will be times when He asks us to do what does not make sense to us. Times when we would rather hole up and remain immobile than risk defeat.
Sometimes He wants us to just keep loading the wagon. Trusting obedience to our God makes perfect sense when we understand just how great He really is. There’s nothing blind about it.
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
Join the conversation: When has God asked you to step out in faith?