John Paul Jones, the naval commander who earned his fame in the American Revolution, once found himself in a battle that appeared hopeless to everyone - that is, everyone but him. His ship was in an engagement against two British vessels - each more heavily armed than his own. After four hours of battling, Jones' ship was shattered, on fire, and taking on water. The British commander shouted to Jones to surrender, and Jones' famous reply was, "I have not yet begun to fight!" Jones' crew then went on to lash the two ships together, thus nullifying their superior firepower and mobility, and the British commander surrendered shortly thereafter. So did Jones' boat - it sank from all the damage inflicted on it by the British!
John Paul Jones was afterward quoted as saying, "It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win." As Christians, we have much in common with Captain Jones. Jesus calls us, in Matthew 28:19-20, to "Go and make disciples of all the nations" and He assures us that, in our going, He is with us always. This directive to "Go!" requires us to move from a place where we feel safe and secure with where we are to a place where we can often feel scared, insecure, and unstable - but this is exactly where God most powerfully reveals Himself!
If we are unwilling to take faith-filled risks for Jesus Christ, then we most certainly cannot "win" the battle against the darkness in this world. Hebrews 11 is known as the "Hall of Faith" for its listing of the great giants of faith found in Scripture: Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Moses, and so on. What made these men such giants in the faith? It was their willingness to trust in the Lord to provide for them and guide them as they simply obeyed and followed His commands. It is there in that chapter, in verse six, that we find these words: "without faith it is impossible to please Him."
How are you trying to please the Lord? Is it by the wonderful deeds you perform? Is it by the words you say? Or, is it through faith in Jesus Christ? If it is through faith in Christ, how is that evident in your life? Are you constantly putting yourself in places that are "uncomfortable" or that feel a little awkward? Perhaps you feel that the Lord has laid it on your heart to reach out to a particular person - do you? Perhaps you feel that He is leading you to give more financially to Him in some way - are you? Perhaps you feel that He is leading you to repent and apologize to someone for something you did or said - have you? All of these things can certainly be uncomfortable, but it is a tangible demonstration of your faith in Him, without which it is impossible to please Him.
If you are not taking faith-filled risks for Jesus and His Kingdom, let me strongly encourage you to do so. The Lord works most powerfully when we take the next step without seeing the stairs. Noah built his ark without any rain falling from above, Abraham walked with Isaac up to the top of the mountain without knowing the Lord would provide a ram, and Moses marched the Israelites to the Red Sea without any inclination that the Lord would part the waters for them. The Lord is most evident in our lives when it is most evident that we are following Him.
If the Lord is prompting you to action, then GO! He is with you always and without this faith it is impossible to please Him. Talk to people around you, help those in need, apologize to those you have hurt, and do everything in the name of Jesus Christ. Through your faith in Christ, risk much and win big!
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.