God Takes Suggestions (So Offer One)

There’s this great story in I Samuel sandwiched between the high profile adventures of the conquering, charming, soon-to-be-king David. It’s about Jonathan, Saul’s son, David’s best friend, a faithful follower of Jehovah and mighty warrior of Israel. He’s with his father’s army waiting for a coming battle between his people and the ever-annoying Philistines. Geographically, the two armies are separated by twin cliffs, only a narrow, boulder-strewn passageway between them. To take the pass would be suicide, like funneling victory into the waiting Philistines’ open mouths. 

So Saul’s men relax under a pomegranate tree, waiting for an order.

Jonathan tires of waiting. 

"One day 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.’”

If you’re like me, maybe you think Jonathan’s assembled a team or received instructions from his dad. Not the case. What Jonathan’s suggesting is a two-man mission to overtake the hoard of Philistia, a mission he undertakes and, get this, completes.

The Philistines see Jonathan and his servant coming from a mile away—they have time to taunt him—but that doesn’t matter. In minutes, Jonathan (plus one) has killed twenty men and thrown the entire Philistine army into a panic. Philistines begin fighting with one another; men flee. It’s chaos, chaos that culminates in a rout.

Two men conquer an army.

But, of course it wasn’t just two men. 

When Jonathan first sets out on this mission he says to his servant, 

"Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

Today, this is my life verse. Because today (tomorrow and a week from now, too) I need to be reminded that the Lord is going to save. And I need to be reminded that God will use the one (or the many) who’ll step out and act, using him or her (or them) to rout armies. 

What’s so cool about this whole story is that it isn’t prompted by God. Jonathan doesn’t get a message or a prophecy, a vision or a calling. He’s a guy who knows God and has a pretty good idea of God’s big picture mission. He looks at the task, considers his gifts, and makes a suggestion. God likes it and takes him up on it. 

I don’t usually think of God putting out the Heavenly suggestion box, thoughtfully considering our ideas—but when I flip through my mental rolodex of Bible stories, I see it happening a lot. Adam naming the animals. Moses advocating for the Israelites. The Israelites begging for a king. David making plans for a temple. 

It’s all over scripture—men and women living without a script, doing the best they can with what they know, finding the Lord at their sides, eager to work in their work.

If you’re anything like me, you might be waiting for a script, the pre-determined screenplay of your life. For years I’ve felt like God made me to do something singular and precise, and so I’ve flown in circles, a holding pattern, waiting for God to reveal it.

Lately I wonder if I’ve been waiting for something that’s never going to come. And even if it does, why sit around waiting?

So, for example, I blog—not because it’s the thing but because it’s something. Because it’s good, God-honoring work. Because when I’m writing I’m not waiting; I’m doing. Because every day I get to sit in front of my computer, consider my God, and offer a holy suggestion. Some days He takes me up on it, speaking into the hearts of His children through my words (despite my small voice and small talent). 

          “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

Maybe the Lord wants to do some saving through you. Offer a suggestion. He just might take you up on it.