October 15, 2018

Pastoral Nuggets: Exhausted But Still in Pursuit

Brother-Aaron-236x300In the Book of Judges we find the story of Gideon. Most likely you are familiar with this story.

God called Gideon, a farmer, to organize and lead the Children of Israel into battle against their tormentors, the Midianites. However, the problem was that Gideon considered himself to be the most unlikely and unqualified leader God ever called.

Gideon balked at the idea. To support his view of himself as an inadequate leader, he made the argument that he was the least in his family, his family was the least in the Tribe of Benjamin, and Benjamin was the least of all the tribes.

Yet, the Angel of God referred to him as: “A mighty man of valour!” Isn’t it amazing that we often see ourselves vastly different than God and others?

Anyway, Gideon finally accepted the leadership task God had assigned him and began to raise an army. Initially this army consisted of thirty-two thousand men, which God promptly whittled down to ten thousand, and eventually all the way down to three hundred. So, with only three hundred men, Gideon went to battle against the Midianites.  Of course, God intervened on Gideon’s behalf and the Midianites were defeated.

As Gideon and his men pursued the Midianites, the Bible records a very interesting phrase. In Judges 8: 4(KJV) it says, “And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.” In Aaron English that would read, “Exhausted but still in pursuit!”

In life, especially the Christian life, some of our greatest defeats come hard on the heels of our greatest victories. Why is that?

There are many reasons. But I think the most obvious would be that after the initial victory, with all its glitz and glamor, we lose sight of the importance of pursuing the enemy until total victory has been achieved. This means that partial victory is really no victory at all. This means total victory cannot occur until we have pursued the enemy to the farthest realms that he has fled and have defeated him.

This is not for the faint of heart. It requires great commitment, great stamina, and singleness of heart. It means that without regard to self, we pursue to total victory. Herein is the rub. All too often we pursue the enemy to a point of personal fatigue.

At that point, fatigue causes us to surrender our pursuit of the enemy to another enemy: “Good enough.” Consequently, total victory is not achieved, the enemy regroups, and tragically a great failure follows our great victory!

The truth of the lesson today is that Gideon and his men, even when exhausted, stayed engaged in the battle. This insured total victory. My encouragement to you today, regardless of what battle you may be engaged in, and how exhausted you are, is to stay engaged in the pursuit of your enemy until you have totally defeated him or God says it’s enough.

There is another phrase from an Old Testament story that caught my attention. In 2 Kings we find where King Benhadad had besieged Samaria.

The siege was so severe that the Samaritans ate the heads of donkeys, the waste from doves, and boiled and ate their young sons. In 2 Kings 7:1 Elisha tells them that “by this time tomorrow” the siege will be over. In just twenty-four short hours everything would be back to normal.

The lesson today is simple – don’t quit even when exhausted or besieged. In a moment in time, whether it is with an army of three hundred men facing a vastly superior force, or through a prophet speaking a word from God, everything can change.

So do not stop fighting the good fight of faith. I know you’re exhausted! But who knows what will transpire in your world by this time tomorrow, if you just keep on keeping on for Jesus? No surrender. No retreat. No stopping. No turning back. Exhausted? Yes! But still in pursuit!

Brother Aaron

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