1 Samuel 13:15-23 – Either Play It Safe or Step Out in Faith: Sometimes We Have A Choice to Make

Posted: January 9, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel
Tags: , , ,

1 Samuel 13:15-23
Israel’s Military Disadvantage

Have you ever had to step out in complete and total faith in the Lord? Or did you hide in the rocks and let the opportunity pass and then forever kick yourself for not acting in faith? That may be the choice that I am faced with very soon. This coming weekend, my wife and I will travel to western central Illinois to interview for an opportunity for me to replace a retiring executive pastor at a non-denominational church there. Already, I know that the job will be for significantly less money than I am making now in my equivalent position in the secular world as the chief financial executive for Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI).

We knew that from Day 1 when God called me and my wife to ministry. We knew that we had to prepare. We have been shedding ourselves of debts and selling our first house together to downsize both in space and in the monthly mortgage. We have maxed out my 401k contributions and we have been setting aside money in savings wherever we can. I am completely and utterly thankful to the Lord in how he has blessed us through my current job. The way FAI has taken care of us has given us financial stability and it has, because of our willingness to live simply, allowed us to be generous to our church, to family, to friends, and to complete strangers. Without my job at FAI, my life over the past 10 years might have looked completely different. I will be eternally grateful to the Lord and to my bosses over the past decade at FAI for the opportunity that they provided me and the wonderful financial blessings that this job has provided. I cannot stress that enough. And with my passion for excellence and just wanting to do my best at whatever I do, I could work at this job at FAI for another 10 years and retire at age 65 after what would be then 20 years in this job. Although the job is now more of maintaining a certain level of expected excellence, it has provided many challenges over the years that has kept the job interesting. I am not yet at the point where I am bored with this job. I have now as of December 2017 month-end gone through 111 month-end closings with FAI but yet it is still an interesting job. I love the fact that I am a big frog in a little pond at FAI but yet part of this global organization of our ultimate parent company in Japan. Although FAI is a small part of the bigger whole, there are people in positions at the top of the global company that know who I am and like me a lot. So, it is a great job in so many respects. I could not ask for anything better. My current boss, the third president I have served under at FAI, is an openly Christian man and we discuss faith matters often when we are together (he works on the west coast and I on the east). So, for a Christian guy like me, what else could you ask for? A great place to work with great benefits and an awesome compensation package. A great boss who thinks the world of me and who is a fellow follower of Jesus Christ. Why then would I want to change anything?

That will be the challenge this weekend or shortly after the visit to west central Illinois if they offer me the job as their executive or administrative pastor. Knowing what I have in the bag at FAI that is real and tangible. It is in my hands and it is a known commodity. It is safe. It is known. It is what I have done for a decade. But God has called me to ministry. Full-time ministry. That is what is unique about this particular job interview cycle with this particular church is that they sought me out instead of me going through the typical job post response and selection process. They contacted me. And the phone interviews have been like old friends talking to one another. It has been so comfortable as if it is meant to be. We shall see but I would not be surprised if there is a job offer within a few days of our return from Illinois. I might be wrong about that. I guess the difference too in me this year is that I will not be shattered if the job is not offered. Based on my experience last year with coming so close with that church in Ohio last year and then being severely disappointed when we did not get the job, I am trying to think of every reason in the world not to take this job so that I will not be disappointed if a job offer is not made.

But what if this is it? What if a job offer is made? There are a million reasons for me not to take the job. My daughters, my stepdaughter, and my little 17 ½ month old granddaughter all live within an hour and half max of me and my wife right now. How can I leave them? The job offer if it comes will most likely be for half or less of what I make now. How are we going to make it? Did I mention my granddaughter lives within an hour? My youngest daughter is estranged from me by her own choosing and because of her lifestyle choices that are so far below her potential. How can I leave her when I know she is going to hit rock bottom one day and really need me? How can I leave her? Did I mention I have a great job that pays me well?

These are the caves that I live in. They are safe. They are warm. They are secure. But sometimes God calls us out of the safe and secure so that we can learn that the source of our strength, the source of our provision is Him. Sometimes, we have to step out in faith so that we can realize just how amazing God is? Will I be able to step out the safe cave?

That’s the thing I thought of this morning when I read this passage – how the Israelites were playing it safe in the caves and in the hills rather than having faith in their God and stepping to face their enemies. Sometimes, radical faith is required. Are you in a similar position? Are you going to stay in the cave because it seems impossible or even crazy to do what God is asking you to do? Let’s read the passage now, 1 Samuel 13:15-23:

15 Samuel then left Gilgal and went on his way, but the rest of the troops went with Saul to meet the army. They went up from Gilgal to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin.[a] When Saul counted the men who were still with him, he found only 600 were left! 16 Saul and Jonathan and the troops with them were staying at Geba in the land of Benjamin. The Philistines set up their camp at Micmash. 17 Three raiding parties soon left the camp of the Philistines. One went north toward Ophrah in the land of Shual, 18 another went west to Beth-horon, and the third moved toward the border above the valley of Zeboim near the wilderness.

19 There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews. 20 So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles,[b] they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith. 21 The charges were as follows: a quarter of an ounce[c] of silver for sharpening a plowshare or a pick, and an eighth of an ounce[d] for sharpening an ax or making the point of an ox goad. 22 So on the day of the battle none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul and Jonathan.

23 The pass at Micmash had meanwhile been secured by a contingent of the Philistine army.

In this passage, we see that Israel was in no position to conquer anyone. The army had no iron weapons, and there were no facilities for turning their tools into weapons. In fact, if an Israelite wanted to sharpen his tools, he had to pay a Philistine blacksmith to do it because the Philistines had a carefully guarded monopoly on iron and blacksmithing. They charged high prices for sharpening farm implements. With their tight control over the ironworks technology, along with their continuous surprise raids, they demoralized the Israelites and kept them oppressed. Against such superiority, the Israelites were at a serious disadvantage. As a result, they hid in caves when the Philistines would raid into their territory. How could they hope to have victory over a technologically superior oppressor? Only with God’s help! God wanted to give Israel victory without swords so they would realize the true source of their strength. It would require faith in the power of God to do that, however!

The thing that I request prayer from each of you who read this blog is that you pray for my wife and I to be able to hear the voice of God this weekend. Please pray for us to know if this moment is the right one for us to step out of the safety of the cocoon of FAI/Lifesong Church/Lyman/friends we have known for nearly a decade/family close by world in which we live and into complete and utter faith in God. It is crazy for us to do this if it offered. It makes no sense at all. It will be a crazy thing if we are offered the job and we take it. The only reason to take is that we have heard from God that this is what we are supposed to do with our lives. It will be a huge faith step. Just as the Israelites needed complete and utter faith in God to defeat a far superior opponent in the Philistines, we will have to have complete faith in God that He will take care of us, take care of our families, and all that. We will have to have complete faith that we are being called to this new place with less money, great fear of the unknown, but maybe just maybe in the process we will see the awesome power of God in our lives when we demonstrate complete and utter faith against all that seems right, sane, and safe.

Amen and Amen.

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