Calculating the odds

One of my favorite Bible stories is in 1st Samuel 14. The Israelites were surrounded by the dreaded Philistines. The Philistines were technologically advanced, while the Israelites had a total of two swords, one belonging to King Saul and the other to his son Jonathan. Saul was paralyzed with fear, but Jonathan came up with an audacious plan: Jonathan said to the young man bearing his armor, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”

Perhaps the Lord will act?”

Jonathan’s plan was to expose himself and his armor bearer to the enemy. Then, the two of them would climb a steep hill, hand-over-hand, up to the enemy position. Remember, they only had one sword between them, but even that didn’t matter, because they needed both hands just to climb. Unless God fought for them, it was suicide.

If you were the armor bearer, wouldn’t you rather have better odds than “perhaps?” Nevertheless, he told Jonathan, “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

I don’t know who I admire more, Jonathan, who took the initiative, or the armor bearer who stayed by his side. The odds didn’t matter to them as long as they were fighting for God. The bold plan paid off. The attack threw the entire enemy army into confusion, and Israel was saved.

Most of us say to God, “I’ll follow you if you can prove to me this is going to work.” When the odds seem against us, we’re paralyzed.

Not these guys.

Unless you follow God unconditionally; unless you move forward in faith despite the odds, you’ll never experience the power of God to save you.

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