Friday, August 3, 2007

The call to an 'again'

In Judges 20, Israel goes out against the wickedness of the men of Gibeah. (Read Judges 19 to obtain further background on this story). Israel seeks to purge the evil out of the tribe of the Benjamites by killing only the men of Gibeah. "Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows of Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel. But the sons of Benjamite would not listen...(20:13)." This marks opportunity number one that Israel seeks to remove the wickedness.

Because the Benjamites refuse to give their men over, the LORD calls the rest of the Israelites to battle against their brother tribe. On battle number one, the men of Gibeah kill 22,000 Israelites.

"But ... the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day".

The Israelites inquired of the LORD, wept before Him, and then followed His command to return to battle. The second day of battle, the men of Gibeah kill 18,000 men of Israel (20:25). The result? The men of Israel return back to the LORD, with weeping, fasting, and offerings only to follow His command to return to battle once more; this would be their 3rd time in battle.

The Israelites have followed the LORD's command to join this fight three different times and have nothing to show for it at this point but a loss of 40,000 men. Sounds like defeat to me. Looks like defeat to me too.

What has grasped my heart and brought me to my knees in this story is the fact that each time the Israelites lose men, they return to the Lord, only to follow His command to return to battle again.

How often have I not returned to the battle? How often do we walk in the practice of what psychology would call 'learned helplessness?' Learned helplessness is essentially the effect of inescapable negative reinforcement. We participate in a conversation we shouldn't have, but we think we had no choice over our involvement. We maintain an unhealthy relationship because we have (wrongfully) accepted it, seeing that there is no way out. We choose to believe lies about ourselves or the way we view our Merciful God because we do not destroy the self-destructive thoughts that have molded us far too long. We sit back denying our sin. All the while, we are participating in the sin of omission. We do nothing. We say nothing. So we accept. We are blinded by the fact that our acceptance is keeping us bound to a life of defeat because we have chosen not to return to battle again.

Sister, simply because you may have lost on the first try, second try, or even third try does not mean the LORD has released you from that battle, nor the victory. Simply because your losing is more than your current gain does not mean that He has turned in His title as Conqueror and Redeemer. Simply because the 'wickedness' or 'sin' in your life has you in defeat right now does not mean that God has politely regarded your weary state and no longer asked you to remove the evil from your life.

It took 3 battles and the death of 40,000 Israelites until the LORD gave them victory. Why should it necessarily be any different for us? We need to cease dropping our swords and accepting the lie that things 'can't,' 'won't,' or 'don't.' Cease practicing helplessness sister, and return to your battle post. Next time there is defeat, follow the example of the Israelites: inquire of the LORD, weep, fast, and bring to Him the pleasing offering of your surrendered heart and will. But do not accept the status quo - your life is meant to be one of victory. You are meant to be complete in Christ, whole, holy, and free. I have worn the chains of a helpless victim so long that I made them spiritual necklace accessories. Newsflash: They're really not in style anymore! We are not called to be a victim, but we are called to be victors. Greater is He that is living in you than He that is in this world. Go, and walk in your 'again'.

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith." 1 John 5:4

In what area does unbelief keep you practicing in an area of defeat, rather than rising up to an 'again' battle with the Lord? I love you all so dearly. I cannot let you miss the blessing of the again, because it may very well be the last one before He delivers you from it. So I leave you with the question that He has stooped down to ask me countless times during my own paralytic defined times of life: "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6).


Anonymous said...

I loved this post! What a blessing you are! When I feel defeated, my hope is that I will cry out to the Lord, fast, pray and Trust that He will deliver me. He is the victory I will not accept defeat! Praise the Lord! Thanks for sharing!

The Preacher's Wife said...

Okay, that was usual.

But the picture at the end leads me to ask, exactly how many friends do you have anyway? Cause I'm thinking I've lost count of all you cute thangs :))


ang baylis said...

Loved this one, too! You are so amazing for such a young girl! I have missed you!

And yes, I want to be well & victorious!
Love you,

Jen the Newlywed said...

We've missed you!

Debra said...

Glad that you are back...

Brittani's Holding Little Hands said...

What a great post. You are just the most precious thing and I can't wait 'til I have a spare minute to curl up with your blog and catch up on all I've missed by not knowing you sooner!

RealEstateGirl said...

hey siesta friend! Love the pic! Looks like a place on Peachtree... am I right? Are you a Georgia girl?

connorcolesmom said...

How obedient!! So often we get defeated and give up. This is a great reminder to continue to seek God's plan in everything.
We are victorious in Christ - we are not helpless!!
Thank you and I am so glad you are back!
God bless,

Boy & Girl said...

yeah we missed you. loved the post.

jennyhope said...

if you get this tonight please pray for me. I am sick and I have the shower for my sis tomorrow. then i have cooked all the food for the shower so i have to get it all there by 1 and i am teaching Sunday school tomorrow so i was going to ask mainly about that. I know you will pray! I am going to be up all night. I take it way to serious! love ya siesta and i am in for the dancing on the 10th!

Little Steps Of Faith said...

Yea, I tried to leave a comment earlier, but computer went crazy..:)

Anyways, I really enjoyed the post it was so rich:) It was like I read it as if I was eating a New York cheesecake...

UGH I am so full with knowledge now:)


:) Angie

Linda said...

Oh Shelly, I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing the scripture. I never quit thought of it this way. Girl you are wise beyond your years and I have been abundantly blessed by our Father to have met you. (even if it is in blogsville, one day we will meet for sure in Heaven.

LeRay said...

Great post! Also in response to your comment on my blog, i too have a soft spot for TECH, that is Ga. Tech, We lived in Atlanta for three years while my husband was on staff at a church there.
Glad you are back.

MelanieJoy said...

Seems our thoughts are on the same page. (I am a Psych. major :) I would constantly fall down over and over again. Each time I wanted so bad to give up but knew I couldn't. Once you replace the old with the new it gets a lot easier. Your words are wise.

Teri said...

Hey Shelly girl! You are anointed. Praise God for you Siesta!

Welcome back and I loved the post!

jennyhope said...

feeling the love...
i got it all done and the Lord taught me so much re Israel and Assyria! I love my commentary! Please do pray! love jen

Jenna said...

What a great post!

Thanks so much for sharing and for all of your other encouraging posts. I have really enjoyed reading them! (I have been reading for a while now, but haven't commented). This post was wonderful and really spoke to me.

Hope you are having a great weekend.

BTW. I think we have a lot of mutual friends (in real life that is!)

With Love, Jenna

Lindsee said...

You are so wise! :)

Thank you for your precious words of encouragement.


Lyndy said...

What a blessing you are to me and your posts are so right on target.

Thanks for sharing.

Hugs, Lyndy

Lisa said...

Did you write this post for me? I think maybe you did. Not only does it encourage me - but it encourages me for my sister-in-law who is desperate need for victory. Praise God for you!

Sacchiel said...

Thanks for capturing those moments when everything is like an uphill struggle. Keep teaching the Word!

Sharon said...

I was over at MelanieJoy's and I saw your comment about a new post and I had to pop on over for a read.
Can I just tell you that this post was just for me?
I am in the middle of the battle right now.
The first battle was a real dud.
The second not quite so bad.
Now I am going in for the third.
I loved this...
"Simply because the 'wickedness' or 'sin' in your life has you in defeat right now does not mean that God has politely regarded your weary state and no longer asked you to remove the evil from your life."
I'm not thinking my toes are going to fit in any shoes for a while. It is a good thing it is sandal season. :)
I had a few weepy moments reading this. I will be back to let you know how the battle is going.
Got my sword and shield...going to battle.

Deedra said...

Fantastic post, Shelly! As always!

jennyhope said...

Today went great so thanks for the prayers!! I cant wait for Beth on Fri!!

Toknowhim said...


I loved your answers on my post. You hit the nail on the head with all of your answers. I think you should do a posting of your own on your blog. I know you have many readers that would be blessed and challenged by what you said. Your insight is truly God given, and will be a tool that God will use to change others to be more like Him.

I am so glad that you have those Koininia (I know I spelled this word wrong-I do know what it means though) Friends. I have a few friends that fall into that category, but my best friend is the perfect example of your description. Our friendship is a gift from God...we both know it. (she is at the CookeFamilyJourney Blog)

Blessings to you Shelly!!!

THE SMITHS said...

I can so testify to your post. I am on the mountain right now because God has given me the strength to "again" myself to graduation. Graduating and finishing this season of my life symbolizes so much more than academic success. I have fought the hardest battles during this season of my life... I'm sure you understand. By God's grace I kept fighting and despite tears, pain and multi-faceted exhaustion pressed on... and here I am on the mountain top. Praising Him and soaking in all of His beauty. Remembering His faithfulness in the past and letting it strengthen my faith for the future. My meditation for the last few months has been Joshua 1:1-9... He truly has given me the wilderness, the river, the sea and the mountain... and I will have them in the future. But these victories would be nothing without my relationship with Him along the way, and that is my focus! Love you lady... thanks for the Word!

The Cooke Family said...

I loved what you wrote on the "other" TOKNOWHIM'S post. You are so wise. I love to hear your heart and how the Lord teaches you.

Linda said...

I know our true rewards are in heaven but you've been given an award. Stop by and see.

Kelly S. said...

Thank you so much. This has given me so much to "ponder" on. Hope you are well.

Joni said...

I enjoyed reading this. And it's all so true. We need to take our spiritual battles more seriously. Sometimes we just don't realize what's at stake.

jennyhope said...

what is so funny is the conference is all that i have been worried about this whole time. then a few minutes ago i told rod that maybe i could get a seat up close in the handicapped section and that all this would work to my advantage Romans 8:28...then it would look kind of bad if girl with the crutches got her groove on in the handicap section.

Kristen said...

If we didn't get the "agains" I wouldn't be posting here today!

Praising God for His redemption!

Liz said...

Beautiful thoughts! Praise God we do not have to live defeated lives!

Thank you for sharing.