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Weary Yet Pursuing

March 22, 2014

As a former history teacher, I loved the study of battle and war strategy. My favorite two units to teach were the ones on the American Revolution Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.39.23 AMand the Civil War. One lesson learned in these wars is that although an army is weary they should continue pursuing the enemy. You probably have heard the military axiom “win the battle but lose the war”.  When you have the enemy on the run, continue the pursuit to attain complete victory.

This was the case in the battle to expel the Midianites out of Israel as told in Judges 6-8. The Midianites were desert dwellers who invaded Israel at harvest time. The Midianites terrorized Israel for seven years. During this time, the Israelites hid in caves in order to avoid the invasion of the Midianites. These attacks were devastating. Judges 6:4b indicates that the Midianites would

.. leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey.”

God brought up Gideon to defeat the Midianites. He’s an unlikely warrior. God often chooses the least likely to work through, so that in the end, it is obvious that God brought the victory.

But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:16 (NASB)

After a series of “signs” that demonstrated to Gideon that he really was listening to the LORD, Gideon did exactly as God said. He winnowed his army down to only 300 men. Using a battle strategy that only God could design (Judges 7:16-25), this rag-tag group of soldiers defeated the Midianites near the hill of Moreh. Some biblical scholars estimate that there were between 135,000 – 200,000 Midianites involved in this battle. After the initial battle, the Midianites were on the run. Gideon knew that just driving them out of Israel would not rid them of the threat of future invasions. They had to pursue the Midianites and completely destroy them. Judges 8:4 describes their strategy:

Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing. Judges 8:4 (NASB)

Though it would have been tempting to stop and celebrate the victory after the battle was won, Gideon and his army of 300 knew that they must press on to win the war.

This is true when fighting for spiritual victories. Some come easy, some require a long persistence and perseverance. In the battles that are tough to win, we must remain on our knees and not get weary but continue the pursuit.

I’m working through Mark Batterson’s 40 day prayer challenge described in his book, Draw the Circle. He calls these types of pursuits as ALAT prayers. ASAP prayers are what we desire. We want an immediate response. Sometimes that happens, but often it doesn’t. Mark Batterson admits that he too wanted immediate answers to his prayers. But over time, God taught him instead to pray as long as it takes prayers.

I don’t want easy or quick answers because I have a tendency to mishandle the blessings that come too easily or too quickly. I take the credit for them, or I take them for granted. So now I pray it will take long enough and be hard enough for God to receive all the glory. (Page 101-102 in Draw the Circle)

This changes the focus. Instead of achieving my comfort quickly, the prayer becomes about my need for God. Jesus desires a relationship with us. He desires the type of relation that is only forged in the midst of a battle. Foxhole friendships are forever friendships. Although weary, the soldiers keep pursuing the enemy knowing that their lives depend upon it. Their dependence upon each other intensifies during the battle.

Weary yet pursuing. Prayer that last as long as it takes. Forever friendships. That’s a victory worth pursuing.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephane permalink
    March 22, 2014 11:15 AM

    What an inspirational and deliberate message on prayer and perseverance.

    Love you,

    Stephane

  2. Dick permalink
    March 22, 2014 7:46 PM

    I’m so glad to be married to a spiritual and spirit-filled blogger.

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