Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “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.” “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” – 1 Samuel 14:6-7
Rev. Dr. Cynthia James closed out the 2010 Christian Women Connection Conference with another powerful message encouraging participants to leave this place transformed. It is not enough to come to a conference, worship service, or retreat and be blessed to just take in what you learn but it is what you DO afterward that makes the difference.
Before delving into the scripture text, Dr. James made three points for reflection:
1) Be strategic: Think and plan ahead, rehearse, and get others involved in your vision or goal.
2) Be disciplined: Undergo personal scrutiny, calculate the risks, and be careful but not overly analytical.
3) Just do it! Have courage and make your move.
With these thoughts undergirding the text, she presented the story of Jonathan before the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14. Israel had been conquered by the Philistines, most of their weapons confiscated and the blacksmiths taken away.
In this account, Saul and his soldiers were waiting under the pomegranate tree tired, discouraged, confused, and disheartened. But Jonathan didn’t wait for his father to do some thing, he made a plan and set out to accomplish it. He didn’t complain, or put Saul down (as some will do to leadership), he just did what he thought God wanted him to do.
He looked at the narrow pass up the hill to the Philistines camp which had sharp cliffs on either side. One side was named “thorny” and the other “shiny.” Isn’t that just like the paths we have before us? As we travel the narrow way, some days are good and easy as God’s light seems to shine on us and our paths, but some days are thorny indeed, filled with pain and fear and trouble. Like Jonathan, we still have to take the pass to reach the goal, and being so narrow, we can’t take everything with us. We’ll have to leave behind everything that isnt essential the baggage, the negative attitudes, the bad habits. Unburden yourself to take the path laid before you.
Jonathan didn’t have an army to take with him. He turned to his armor bearer not the king, not a commander, no one of equal status but just someone who could help him even if he was different from himself. And this servant didn’t look around and decide the odds were pretty bad for this undertaking, but just said, “Do what you think is best Im with you!” This unlikely duo, with one sword between them, would be all that would go before the Philistines and do battle. Jonathan’s observation was poignant as we apply it to today: “God can save by many or by few” He is God! It doesn’t take a mega church to do the most good, God can work through churches of 20 or 50 or 100 just as powerfully. Small churches can connect together, pool resources, and work strategically to be successful. We need to be able to say “Let’s do it!”
It was just Jonathan and his armor bearer now standing before the Philistines at the top of the hill. When the soldiers called to them mockingly to come on up where they would teach them a lesson, the two men did not hesitate, but started up the hill on their hands and feet we are strongest when we are humble. Jonathan led the way and the armor bearer followed they didn’t go side by side, but the leader led. The armor bearer stepped aside and submitted to Jonathan’s plan. God is ordered, and those in leadership should be allowed to lead the charge don’t forget this may also put them in the way of the first bullet, but leaders accept ALL the responsibility of leadership, both good and bad.
Once reaching the top of the hill, the two Hebrews began fighting the 20 Philistine soldiers. Dr. James shared a vision of Jonathan handing the sword to his companion so that, as he fought to put the soldiers off balance, the armor bearer was able to slay them. All 20 fell and the rest of the story is one of complete victory. They worked together, used their strengths most effectively, even when it meant Jonathan did not hold the weapon and finish off the opponents. We must be flexible in our churches, using everyone’s strengths to our best advantage, regardless of position or status.
Christian women, each of us, are important in defeating the enemy. We must think strategically, joining in the vision and supporting our leaders (if it is not us!). We must be disciplined to follow the plan, calculate the risks and be prepared with a response to any issue, obstacle or objection.
And finally, we must just do it. Follow through, regardless of how it appears ahead. God will go before us and win the victory!