Obedience Does Not Guarantee Victory

man prayingDuring a battle recorded in Judges 20, two times the Israelites prayed and asked God if they should fight the Tribe of Benjamin. Both times God said, yes. Both times they were defeated, proving obedience does not guarantee victory.

The Israelites couldn’t figure out the loses. They asked. God said fight. They fought. They were defeated.

God didn’t guarantee victory. He just told them what to do.

As the Israelites discovered through this battle, obedience does not guarantee victory. Nor does it guarantee our desired outcome. Sometimes the purpose of obedience is to teach us faithfulness to God’s directions.

After suffering severe losses both days of battle, the Israelites once again asked God if they should fight the next day. God said, yes, adding, “I will see to it that you defeat the men of Benjamin.”

Often, I believe, our default is to expect our desired outcome because we are obedient. Have you ever felt that way? As we see with the Israelites, although they prayed for direction and did what God said, victory was not granted until the third time they went to battle.

While writing this post I thought of Elisabeth and Jim Elliot, missionaries in the jungles of Ecuador. For Elisabeth, after nine months of developing a written language for the Ecuadorans in the jungle, her suitcase full of handwritten materials translating the language was stolen as she prepared to leave. Everything she worked tirelessly on so the people living in the remote jungle could have the Gospel in their own language was gone. Elisabeth’s obedience did not guarantee victory.

Then there is Jim. For nine months he repaired three dilapidated buildings, and constructed two new ones at the Shandia mission station in the eastern jungle of Ecuador. In addition to all that, he had five hundred hand-planed boards for future buildings on hand. Those boards represented five hundred day’s work. Regardless of his obedience to spread the Gospel to the people of Ecuador, the entire station of Shandia was demolished in a flood. It literally washed away. Not long after, Jim died at the hands of the Auca Indians at the age of 29. Jim’s obedience did not guarantee victory.

There are many more stories where the obedience of God’s people did not guarantee victory, both in Scripture and in the lives of those around us. The important thing, I believe, is to be obedient. And in that obedience, God brings victory.

Victory may not look as we imagine, or happen in our timing. Who knows? Victory may not come until we hear Christ say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

How do you handle times when your obedience does not bring the victory you expected?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

The men of Israel asked the Lord, “Shall we go out again and fight against our brother Benjamin, or shall we stop?”

And the Lord said, “Go, for tomorrow I will see to it that you defeat the men of Benjamin.” Judges 20:28b

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Joyful Surrender Book Review

In Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Joyful Surrender, previously published under the title Discipline, she states, “Disciple is not my claim on Christ, but the evidence of his claim on me.”

With this quote the author set the stage for her discussion of seven disciplines she felt important in the Christian life. These are the disciple of the body, mind, place-as in place of honor, time, possessions, work, and feelings.

Several things I felt important to highlight from this book follow.

In the chapter on discipline of the mind, one thought Ms. Elliot discussed is when we find ourselves wondering why we continue to do a thing we despise, the enemy has made use of an area of weakness as his power base, and he hits us again and again in the same area. She notes the only weapons adequate to deal with such strongholds are those that are mighty through God. The same Spiritual Weapons Paul mentions in the sixth chapter of Ephesians.

In discussing the discipline of the use of our time spent alone with God, the author suggests we :

  • Let it be a regular time.
  • Have a special place.
  • Let your prayer include worship, thanksgiving, confession of sin, petition, and intercession.
  • Keep a spiritual journal, noting lessons learned, Scriptures applied to a particular need, and prayers answered.
  • Read a portion of the Bible in some ordered sequence three chapters a day and five on Sunday.

As I read Joyful Surrender, it seemed the author’s purpose was to lecture the reader more than it was to inspire the reader. Others may feel differently about the style of this book, however.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Made for the Journey Book Review

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Made for the Journey One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador by Elisabeth Elliot, first published as These Strange Ashes, tells the story of the beginning of her life as a missionary.

The thing that impressed me most with Elisabeth’s vivid retelling of her first year as a young missionary in the jungles of Ecuador, is the honesty in which she tells her story. Nothing is sugar-coated or made to look glamorous. She details the struggles, the questions, making do with the barest of necessities, balancing necessary physical needs of life with pursuing God’s calling, and acceptance of God’s sovereignty when things don’t turn out as hoped and planned.

Near the conclusion of her book Elisabeth makes several statements which, to me, were powerful. One such statement was a story told about Jesus, the disciples, and stones. As Elisabeth tells it, the story goes like this.

As Jesus and his disciples walked along a stony road, Jesus asked each of them to choose a stone to carry for him. John chose a large one while Peter chose the smaller. Jesus led them then to the top of a mountain and commanded that the stones be made bread. Each disciple, by this time tired and hungry, was allowed to eat the bread he held in his hand, but of course Peter’s was not sufficient to satisfy his hunger. John gave him some of his.

Some time later Jesus again asked the disciples to pick up a stone to carry. This time Peter chose the largest of all. Taking them to a river, Jesus told them to cast the stones into the water. They did so, but looked at one another in bewilderment.

“For whom,” Jesus asked, “did you carry the stone?”

Whatever we feel the Lord has called us to do for him, perhaps the question we need ask ourselves is the one asked in Elisabeth’s story.

For whom did we carry the stones?

Reading Elisabeth Elliot’s story made me look at my life and evaluate it in a new way. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

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