What’s Your Formula for Overcoming Obstacles?
There are moments in our lives as leaders when circumstances are completely out of our control and there is literally nothing we can do to alter or affect them. In those moments, praying and waiting on the Lord are the only things we can and should do.
But have you ever faced a challenge that was at least partially your responsibility to resolve, yet all you could muster was a rather anemic, “I guess I should pray and wait for the Lord”? You see, many of us can get so caught up in the “paralysis of analysis” that we literally become unable to make a decision, and we find “praying and waiting” convenient excuses for our inaction.
Of course, God’s Word is very clear that we should pray in all circumstances and that our prayer life should not be reduced only to the “help me; I’m drowning” moments. His Word is also very clear that we should not fall into lazy habits of thinking and working. He tells us to work wholeheartedly as unto Him. He gives us instructions to wake up early and not to be idle, to “not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27 NIV).
Yet often when faced with tough circumstances, many of us resort to self-sufficiency and self-propelled action or we default only to prayer, convincing ourselves that somehow our actions might actually prevent prayer from being effective. We conveniently forget that, depending on the circumstances, we can pray and act at the same time!
Not too long ago Pastor Kevin Myers made this statement: “We [wrongly] think that the more God is in something, the less we have to do.”
He used the story of Joshua and Moses to illustrate that there are times when God’s power will only manifest itself if we decide to act in obedience.
There was a moment in the lives of Moses and Joshua when both leaders demonstrated a valuable lesson about the power of prayer accompanied by action. It’s a story that, in most accounts and commentaries, focuses on Moses and the power of intercessory prayer. Today, I’d like to shift the focus to Joshua, who was in the heat of battle while Moses prayed.
In Exodus 17, Amalek attacks Israel. As soon as the attack happens Moses asks Joshua to “choose men, go out and fight.”
As I read this story I wonder if Joshua thought for a second: If we serve a God who rains manna from heaven, who singlehandedly destroyed Egypt through a series of plagues, who can part the seas, and who can bring water out of least likely places, why then do we need to pick up a sword and risk our lives by going into battle? Shouldn’t we all just help Moses pray and watch a miraculous destruction of Amalek?
We’ll never know what actually went through Joshua’s mind, but what we do know is that he picked up his sword, chose his men, and went into battle. He knew that his action, combined with Moses’ intercessory prayer would bring God’s favor and victory.
What would have happened if Joshua had refused to act? Would Israel have witnessed a powerful “God moment”? Or would they instead have lost a valuable opportunity to see men’s obedience and God’s power in action?
We all know how the story ends: Joshua and his men claim victory, but ultimately the one who is given all the glory is the Lord.
This quick illustration can serve as a challenge to us as leaders while we face our own battles.
Do we look for man-made solutions, trying to rush into action, thinking that we have to solve it all? Or do we remove ourselves from the “battlefield,” hoping that through prayer the Lord will “fix” whatever needs to be fixed? Or are we so close to God’s Word and His heart that we recognize the moments when it’s up to us to pick up the proverbial sword, go into the battle and fight all the while praying earnestly for God’s favor, wisdom, and ultimate deliverance?
He is the one who always delivers, but we must faithfully carry out the assignment He has given us to do.