Book Review: In A Pit With A Lion

Earlier this month I was invited to join a group of men running the Tough Mudder Challenge here in WNY. Actually, to be more accurate I ran the Half Mudder which is only half as tough as the tough mudder, because I am only half as tough as those tough guys who run the tough mudder. Did you get that?

I had an absolute blast completing the course. We tackled obstacle after obstacle, we saw mud pit after mud pit come and go one by one, and before you knew it, our squad sloshed through the final inflatable arch hands in the air, cached in the gooey brown mushy stuff.  I had mud all over my body, hardened in my hair, in my ear canals, up my nostrils, and somehow between my toes inside of my socks, even while inside of my shoes. We were victorious!

A few years back, Mark Batterson wrote an insightful book by the title In a Pit With a Lion On A Snowy Day, which details the account of one of David's mighty men Benaiah and his encounter with a lion in 2 Samuel 23. Batterson writes: "Encountering a lion in the wild is typically a bad thing. A really bad thing! Finding yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day generally qualifies as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I don't think anyone would have bet on Beniah winning this fight - not even the riskiest of gamblers. Yet. when the snow settled, the lion was dead and Benaiah was alive. There was one set of paw prints, and two sets of footprints."

People generally blame their circumstances for what they are. It is much easier to look at the hand you have been dealt and see it as an excuse for not going further, or accomplishing more. In fact, in an attempt to show others empathy and encouragement we will often offer them additional excuses for why things haven't worked out for them as they hoped. However when we look at Scripture, the individuals that are highlighted, the heroes of the faith that are recognized, are not the ones who found the path of least resistance.

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. [Hebrews 11:32-34]

When will the church realize that spiritual opposition is actually spiritual opportunity? When will we embrace that playing it safe is risky, and pursuing hard after Gospel-centric living should be the internal engine that motivates all we do? When you feel like your eyes just locked in with a lion, will you advance because you know that God has always defied the odds? I believe God has created us to pursue. Created us to endure. Created us for more. 

I believe that if you are in the pit today, just like he did in 1 Samuel with Benaiah, just like he did in Genesis 27 with Joseph, God will use it in your life for good. What some people see as a bad break, God turns into a big break. These are the moments that will change lives forever. 

It's time for the church to "grab opportunity by the mane." It's time for the church to advance. The time for excuses and comfortable nominal Christianity has long passed its due. It's time we see the Gospel transform our living. The time is now.

Pastor Milo


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