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Obstinate Hesitation

“I will not,” can be one of the most useful or most harmful phrases in our lives. When it comes to moral decisions, the phrase “I will not,” can be quite useful. “I will not lie to improve my situation,” “I will not compromise myself sexually,” “I will not take credit for what others have accomplished,” are all statements of virtue and strong character. When it comes to following the clear guidance of our God, however, the phrase “I will not,” is a stubborn announcement that we lack confidence in His leadership.
I encountered an example of this in Judges 4. “Sisera, the commander of his [Jabin king of Canaan] army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.” (v. 2-3) “Now Deborah . . . was leading Israel at that time.” (v. 4) She said to Barak, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” (v. 6-7)
I think you will agree that these are clear instructions. Barak doesn’t need to interpret the words or try to decipher the meaning. That is important to keep in mind because there are many times in life when we need wisdom to figure out what course we need to take. This is not one of those. God is clearly laying out what He wants Barak to do.
I fully understand Barak’s hesitation. Sisera is a skilled, well-equipped and brilliant military strategist. Israel has been losing battles to him for twenty years. I even think it would have been okay if he had vulnerably said to Deborah, “I am hoping you will go with us because God’s hand of favor is obviously upon you. It would help my confidence.” Instead, Barak was stubborn in his response, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” (v. 8 ) His hesitation is not the problem. It is his stubborn attitude toward what God has asked him to do.
We all recognize that many challenges in life appear to be impossible, or at least intensely unattractive, so we naturally ask ourselves, “Am I really willing to do this?” I almost always encounter this when I teach on forgiveness. From a human point of view, there are many people who do not deserve forgiveness for the things they have done. Hesitation is understandable as we wrestle with the pain and disappointments created in our hearts from the actions of others, even though we know God has called us to “forgive whatever grievances you may have” in Colossians 3:13. Saying, “I am having a hard time forgiving, will you help me figure this out?” is commendable. Stubbornly saying, “I will never forgive that!” sets us up to have a bitter heart.
As a result of Barak’s stubborn hesitation, Deborah responded, “Certainly I will go with you. But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” (v. 9) Barak was going to see God’s victory but the credit would go to another.
Jesus, next time I am faced with a big challenge, give me the grace to willingly follow despite my hesitation.

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One Response

  1. It is a hard thing to do—follow God’s instructions, overcoming our self-doubt.

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