It is important to preface my thoughts today with an acknowledgment: God reserves the right to move His people from one place to another, from one set of priorities to another and/or from one ministry to another. Some of the closest friends I have ever had were called away by God from my side as He sovereignly opened up other doors to them as they followed Him in life. My post today has none of those people in mind and I am grateful to God that, though our temporary environments are always subject to change, He remains the same no matter our geography or sphere of labors for Him. Today’s post focuses on a different type of person: a quitter. We are all tempted at times to prematurely evacuate when circumstances become tense but, for some, this becomes a way of life. Let’s focus on people who quit without cause and commit to never become one.
“Eleazar…was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day…” – 2 Samuel 23:9-10
Last night I was blessed to share with the people of Meadow some observations from the little-known life of Eleazar. This brother was a fighter who was famous in his own day for being one of King David’s three mightiest warriors. The particular passage we looked at last night revealed a specific aspect of his character that has held my attention for the better part of two weeks. Seeking to digest anything I could read about Eleazar, I have concluded that I desire to be like him as I discern that you and I live in similar times as he did. The above passage tells us that his loyalty to King David secured his position at a place of intense battle with the Philistines. It appears that all of the other soldiers in Israel’s army abandoned this battle site, presumably in fear of their enemy, and fled to some other place when the heat was turned up. Eleazar watched his brothers in arms run away yet he himself remained to continue the fight for his king’s glory. Few things can be as disheartening as witnessing defections and fear-driven fleeing from the battle. Many can stand in the ranks when the odds are seen to be in their favor but the spirit of fear is highly contagious, and it seems that Israel’s army had all been infected. All but Eleazar, that is. He stood his ground by himself and continued to raise his sword against a determined enemy. The bible does not leave us with any illusions concerning the difficulty of the fight – the Philistines were bringing the heat and Eleazar was fighting alone. He had his sword and his shield and a continual onslaught of opposition. He killed one, then two, then perhaps a dozen more Philistine warriors. We are not given the final body count of that day of combat in Ephes-dammim but it is clear that Eleazar fought until he had nothing left. Note this: he fought hard and he fought alone. You will eventually do the same in some of God’s ordained battles during your life. The passage tells us that he had no remaining strength but his fighting hand seemed to have a mind of its own as the last enemy dropped dead and Eleazar’s “hand clung to the sword.” The man never turned loose of his weapon. The fight eventually ended and sapped him of his very last resource but, in the final reckoning, “the Lord brought about a great victory that day”.
Some of you reading this have witnessed others who quit prematurely. These did not get reassigned by God. They quit. The cost became too much and they walked away, looking for shadier groves and milder hills. Some of those who bailed out did so in the heat of battle which you remained committed to fight. Now your hands are weary and you have little time to ponder why they left before the conflict was resolved. You, like Eleazar, have been blessed by God with the courage to stay, to stand your ground, to weather the opposition and hold on to your sword, weary-handed though you are. It is you who will have the joy of knowing that you gave it your best and endured the heat of battle. Your scars from the war are your badges of honor, your beauty marks and the evidence that you are not some Mimi Manicure but, rather, a modern day Enduring Eleazar. I write to encourage you to continue to be that type of person. Do not let your eyes rest on defectors who are more attracted to the fragrance of rosebuds than the stink of battle sweat. You were made for this and what is being forged inside of you through today’s battles is what will equip you to stand victorious tomorrow. Easier is almost never better – it’s just easier. When opposition comes against them, many people will abandon the place of future blessing for an anesthetizing season on the shores of immediate relief. They avoid the battle but they lose the territory. History records their quitting and their names fall into the big bowl of lukewarm soup with those who crumbled before them. Consecration is exchanged for comfort, sacrifice is replaced by shallowness and maturity is replaced by mirth. It’s more fun away from the battles but the laughter there is hollow. You were made for something more. You are cut from Eleazar’s mold and that is why you will never quit. If your hand is tired and you don’t know how much of the battle you can endure then call upon your God right now. When it came to him and his sword, Eleazar lost his strength to sling but God gave him the strength to cling. That’s why we are talking about him to this very day.