Do you ever feel you have more checks in the lose column than the winning one? Although we face defeat for a number of reasons one of the less appreciated causes lies in a lack of discernment-we don’t pick the right battles. We fight when we should be standing still in faith. We retreat when we should be advancing in confidence.
Israel was no stranger to this. After the fledgling nation left Egypt, they sent spies to check out the land God was giving them. When ten of the spies returned with terrifying reports about giants they would come up against-they cowered in fear. Rather than listening to the two faithful spies (Joshua and Caleb) who assured them of God’s help, they rebelled (Numbers 13). Their lack of trust to go into battle resulted in a forty year delay of God’s plan.
Years of wandering in the desert taught them a few things about strategy. They learned about the only stratagem that worked: reliance on God. From the food they ate to the shoes they wore, to the very water they drank, they discovered God could be trusted. When time came to take the land, God told them to stand down as they approached Seir, Moab and the Ammonites. They obeyed. But concerning the Amorites, he instructed Israel to completely destroy them. The results of their obedience are recorded in Deuteronomy 2:36: “not one town was too strong for us. The Lord our God gave us all of them.”
When God directs, he also supplies strength for the battle. Sometimes I think we exhaust ourselves by skirmishing in areas where God has not directed us to fight. Then when it’s time to engage in the real conflicts, we’re torn, worn and depleted. This plays out in areas from parenting to the national stage. We have to know when God says, “That’s worth fighting for.” But we also need to discern when he says, “Entrust this one completely to me” or even “Shake the dust from your feet.”
If we hope to experience more wins than losses in life, it may well begin with increased discernment-discernment based on the fact that we are called to fight for God’s glory; God is not called to fight for ours. Victory comes as we embrace the truth:
The battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47).