Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Guest Post

    Ryan, a good friend and fellow blogger over at A Message for the Messenger, has agreed to write a guest post for me today! He's a brother in Christ who I have shared many great memories over our several year friendship. I hope you all enjoy!


     So many times in the Bible and all throughout history, there are countless examples of courage being displayed. There are great men who stood up to and sometimes withstood seemingly impossible scenarios. I would like to touch on two people from history who displayed amazing amounts of courage. 

    The first can be found in 1 Samuel 14, verses 1-15: “Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Mikmash. One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.’ But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six-hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phineas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left. 

    On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba. Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. 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.’ Jonathan said, ‘Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, “Wait there until we come to you,” we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, “Come up to us,” we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.’

    So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. ‘Look!’ said the Philistines. ‘The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.’ The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, ‘Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.’ So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, ‘Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.’ Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre. Then panic struck the whole army – those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties – and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.”
    Now, notice how when the soldiers in the outpost saw Jonathan and his armor bearer, they said: “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in”. This gives me the impression that the Philistines suspected that Jonathan and his armor-bearer were bait for an ambush set by the Israelites, hiding behind Bozez and Seneh. That is why I think they said ‘Come to us’. They didn’t want to be in the ambush. But they were wrong.
    You see, God used these two young men to bring Him glory in the battle. It says later in chapter 14 that all the Hebrews, the prisoners of the Philistines, Saul’s army, and the ones hiding nearby pursued the fleeing Philistines. Jonathan had to start the fight. It wasn’t easy though. I don’t doubt that he struggled with fear or anxiety. I bet that he was anxious to get to the outpost. But he knew that God would deliver the Philistines into his hands. He had a renewed strength, and because he overcame his fear of the Philistine army, he was able to successfully believe in Christ and take the outposts and raiding parties. God won a major victory there, one that would be completed upon the coming of David.
    Now I have my historic, non-Bible story that I want to share. It is about a man named Ernest Shackleton. I quote from 2011 World Book: “In 1914, he led an expedition into the Weddell Sea, where ice crushed his ship, the Endurance. His party escaped in boats to Elephant Island. Shackleton and five companions then made a daring journey by boat to South Georgia Island and crossed the island’s glacier-covered mountainous ridge to summon rescuers. As a result, his entire party was saved.”
    This was a huge amount of courage on Ernest Shackleton and his men’s part. They braved twenty foot waves in their lifeboat to reach shore, where they crossed the mountains which had never been done before and sledded down the entire mountain to reach a British arctic station. They saved the men who were remaining on the island.
    Do you see a similarity between the two stories? The one I see is this: each one of those men exhibited their courage because there was a cause that had be done. There was something that needed to happen, and either no one else could or would, but they were the only ones with the courage to do it. Why were they the only ones who could? Because they experienced fear. Fear is not what makes a man. It’s overcoming that fear that makes a man.

    But how can we overcome fear? Obviously fear is something that weakens us; that makes us afraid to face it. How can we confront something that is frightening to us?

    I am naturally afraid of heights. It’s just something that I’ve always been afraid of. Even as a baby I would scream in terror when placed upon a changing table.  When I was old enough to walk, I was afraid to go up a flight of stairs.  There was one particularly set of stairs in our post office that was particularly scary to me then. Over the years, though, I’ve conquered that fear little by little, until I’m not so afraid of heights anymore. And you know what? We have a picture of me at the top of those stairs, having conquered my fear. Am I still afraid of heights? Yes, some. Was it easy to overcome my fear? No. 
    But the necessity to be up in high places made me have to conquer those fears. If going onto a high area was the only way for me to successfully get out of a situation, I would have to do that. And I had to conquer my fear in order to be able to go out onto a high place if I ever needed to. And the lessening of that fear has been a huge benefit for me in some areas. 
    So, to wrap this up, the act of conquering your fears can help build your courage. And you will need that courage in your youth and adulthood to stand tall and firm in your convictions and to answer God’s call on your life.

                          -Ryan S., from A Message for the Messenger