The title of my blog is “The End in Sight.” It carries a double meaning. The first is a self-reminder to keep the Eschaton (the end of time) at the forefront of my mind, knowing that everything that happens in this life has bearing on my experience of that day. The second is a self-challenge to walk by faith, not by sight (which, you may well imagine, does not come naturally).
I was reading some this morning in 1 Samuel and came through chapter 14, where Jonathan and his armor bearer do something really dumb, at least through the lens of sight-walking. Jonathan proposes to his faithful armor bearer that they undertake a frontal assault on their enemies, 2 Israelites against at least dozens of Philistines. In Hollywood that may come across as a good idea (especially in a 1980s action flick), but in reality let’s call it what it is: suicidal. But Jonathan explains his rationale, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).” Wow! Wow.
Sight-walking will not take you where Jonathan went. Whether we’re talking about combat, sports, family finances, church growth, or whatever, it is simply unwise to ignore every quantifiable measurement and press forward in defiance. If the car you want costs $30,000, but your financial situation really only allows for you to purchase a $15,000 car, it is a bad idea to buy the more expensive car. It would be even more foolish to buy the car you cannot afford and then celebrate it with a spontaneous Caribbean cruise. Jesus doesn’t deny the prudence of simple math either:
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
Jesus is not naive about human limitations. As our Creator, He knows the cans/cannots of mankind better than anyone. But as the Son of God, He also knows the limitless power of God better than anyone. He multiplied a boy’s lunch into a feast for thousands. He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God (Luke 18:27).” He also said that faith the size of a mustard seed would move a mountain (Matthew 17:20). In military terms that would be a child’s paper sailboat sinking an aircraft carrier. In sports that would be my 18-month-old daughter Anna outrunning Usain Bolt. In the financial world that would be my wife and I using our savings to pay off the U.S. National Debt. Folks, all of these things are impossible–all of them, in the real world of sight-living.
Wow! I long to walk by faith like Jonathan, like his friend David, “With your help I can advance against a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall (Psalm 18:29).” Jonathan knew that he served the Unrestrained God. Not merely the unlikely but the impossible lie within the realm of the commonplace with Him. What Jonathan did in advancing against a garrison of troops with only one companion was by no means foolish, though a sight-walker like me might think so. Jonathan the faith-walker knew that that battle along with every other one he would ever fight was ultimately in God’s hands. He would not achieve victory through strength of arms on that day but through faith in God. And so he prevailed. Again, as Jonathan’s friend David told Goliath before slaying Him, “…the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and He will give you into our hands (1 Samuel 18:47).”
If you are anything like I am, we walk by sight. We are sight-walkers. God calls us to be faith-walkers. “Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).” Without faith it is impossible to walk with God. Without faith our lives are empty of the power of Spirit and Word of God. We must walk by faith. And as we do so, even as we walk through the darkness of this world, maybe we will be like Elisha and see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them (2 Kings 6:16).”