Devotional May 6
There is a scene from the movie “Sahara” at the end where the main characters are trapped and facing an army of their enemies. They come up with a last ditch plan to take out the leader of the enemy forces by taking out the helicopter that he is flying in. Their rationale is that if you cut the head off of the snake, the body will die. So they execute this plan and they are able to take out the helicopter. At that very moment, every one of the members of the enemy lay down their weapons and put up their hands in surrender. The protagonists look at each other and realize that their plan never should have worked. It is at this moment that they hear a noise on the ridge above them and look up to see that one of their friends who left them partway through the movie has returned and brought the cavalry with him. The enemy forces weren’t surrendering because of the well-executed, last-ditch plan, they surrendered because someone more powerful than them, even though they were unseen by the protagonists, had come to their rescue.
There are many times in our lives where we may have had a similar experience. We were overwhelmed by the size or weight of an obstacle or circumstance and then we were able to get through it in a way that never should have worked. It isn’t until later, when we are able to take a step back, that we see it was God who was delivering us and not whatever last-ditch plan we tried to throw together to deal with our situation. If that is true, and we know that God is there with us during all of our struggles and trials, then why do many of us find ourselves going right back to putting together our own plans to deal with our overwhelming circumstances and trying to go it alone instead of bringing it and laying at the foot of the God’s throne first? The problem lies in our memories. The difficulties of the moment often overshadow our memory of how God stood by our side in other difficult circumstances in the past. We become focused only on the present and when we don’t feel God with us, we buy into the lie that He has abandoned or forsaken us in our time of need. So how do we fight this? By remembering.
In 1 Samuel 7 we see the Israelites dealing with a similar problem. In the previous chapters of 1 Samuel, the Lord had miraculously dealt with the Philistines and returned the Ark of the Covenant to the Israelites possession without the Israelites having to lift a finger. In chapter 7, Samuel has gathered all the Israelites together to repent of their idolatry and turn back to the Lord. When the Philistines heard of this they put together a fighting force to go up and ambush the Israelites. As Samuel was offering a burnt offering to the Lord, the Philistines drew near to the camp. Just then, the Lord intervened and caused the Philistines to be thrown into confusion and fear and Israel easily defeated them.
What did Samuel do when this victory was won? We see in verse 12 “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer, for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12 Samuel wanted to make sure that the next time Israel faced an invading army, or a difficult circumstance, or an uncertain future, that they would remember that moment, the moment when the Lord delivered them completely from an enemy that they weren’t even aware was about to attack. He knew the propensity of the Israelites at that time to forget what the Lord had done for them and how He had delivered them. So Samuel set up the Ebenezer so that the Israelites would remember that “till now the Lord has helped us” and also that He was faithful to continue to be Israel’s help.
Maybe you aren’t going to build piles of rocks around your yard and give them names, but there are other ways you can remember what God has done for you and when He has delivered you in the face of overwhelming circumstances. At the very least, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, still your heart and recall the times in the past where God has been there for you. Remember those times where He has been your help, your refuge, your guide, your deliverer. Then allow your heart to be strengthened by the truth that God doesn’t change. He is still the same God who saw you through those times, so you can trust that even when you feel alone, He hasn’t left you and He never will.
Those times when we feel like we are backed into a corner, instead of coming up with some hair-brained scheme as a last-ditch effort, maybe, just maybe we should try falling on our knees and trusting that the army of God is behind us watching our backs.