When the Horse is Blind

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.

When the Horse is Blind – insight on following God when we don’t understand from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 Womenwas 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?




Not Exactly a Team Effort

by Julie Zine Coleman

Mention professional basketball, and the name that inevitably comes to mind is Michael Jordan. His illustrious career included being named “Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century” by ESPN and leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA national championships. There has never been another player like Michael Jordan.

One of his teammates, Bill Wennington, played alongside Jordon against the NY Knickerbockers in 1995. Jordan stacked up 55 points that night. The game was tied with 14 seconds left to play. Jordan drove the ball down the court but could not make a clear shot. He passed the ball to Wennington, who dunked it. As the players later celebrated their victory, Wennington was heard to remark: “How about that? Michael and I combined for 57 points.”

The remark was made tongue in cheek, of course. But it does amaze me how often I irrationally possess the same faulty logic when it comes to serving the Lord.

Sometimes I worry that God needs me to do things just right in order for His will to be accomplished. That my contribution is somehow critical to the cause. But Scripture has always been clear about the power source in any victory accomplished in His name.

While traveling in the desert, the Israelites were confronted with a hostile enemy. As the battle ensued, Moses positioned himself high on the hillside. When his hands were held high in supplication for God’s intervention, Israel prevailed. When he tired and lowered his arms, they would begin to lose. So Aaron and Hur stood on either side of him, holding them up. Israel won the victory, and not one person doubted it was by the power of God.

Years later, Joshua reminded his people of God’s intention to win their battles for them. “For the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you; as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you” (Joshua 23:9-10 NASB).

Jonathan, son of King Saul, knew of God’s power as well. While his father and the rest of the Israelite army hid, Jonathan decided to approach the Philistines accompanied only by his armor-bearer. “Come,” he told his companion, “let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6 NASB). The Lord empowered Jonathan to slay twenty Philistines upon his arrival. Word spread quickly through the enemy camp. The Philistines turned tail and ran.

Over and over in Scripture, God rescues His people from seemingly overwhelming circumstances. He wants to fight our battles for us. He works in hopeless situations to display His power, not through our strength, but through our weakness.

As to my concern that I am so essential to the fight? Ironically, we are actually the most usable when we understand it is not up to us. He wants us at His feet, acknowledging our need for Him in every situation. His desire is that we fix our gaze on Him, not on our abilities. Our most effective contribution is not our strength. Rather it is in our determination to rely on Him. The battle belongs to the Lord.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. . . for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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 Womenwas 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: What battles has God won for you? Encourage us with your experience!