1 Samuel 14 1; 4-6
One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armour-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.’ But he did not tell his father.
Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.
On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north towards Michmash, the other to the south towards Geba.
Jonathan said to his young armour-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.’
Jonathan and his armour bearer have cliffs at either side of them. ‘Bozez’ means ‘slippery’ and ‘Senah’ means ‘thorny.’ That’s what they’re in the middle of: thorny and slippery. Compare this with Saul and his 600 men who are sitting having their prayer meeting in the shade under a tree.
We might all want safe places and an easy life, but doing God’s will often leads us through uncomfortable places which are thorny and slippery.
As Christians we say some silly things. For example: “I knew it was God’s will because everything just fell into place.”
Sometimes it’s great and everything does fall into place. And sometimes, when doing God’s will, it feels like everything is coming against us.
Jonathan isn’t put off by the obstacles in his way. Look again at what he says to his armour-bearer:
“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.’”
I love that. ‘Let’s go pick a fight. I know there’s more of them than there is of us, I know they’ve got the high ground. But PERHAPS God will come through. I haven’t prayed about it, I’ve had no angel show up to tell me what to do, but let’s just try it. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen. We might die a horrible death.’
And yet within the uncertainty, Jonathan also has a massive certainty.
“Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”
In other words, I know that God CAN do it. I just don’t know if He WILL.
Do you ever feel like that? I know I do sometimes. I know God is able to do whatever it is I need – I just don’t know if He will do it.
It’s like, on one hand you have this PROMISE – God can do it.
On the other hand is the PERHAPS – will He do it this time for me?
The life of faith is lived in that tension of the PROMISE and the PERHAPS.
Between knowing God can but not knowing if He will.
That place between certainty and uncertainty.
If we never do anything until we are 100% certain God will come through – we’ll never do anything.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been 100% certain about any of the decisions I’ve made as a leader. Probably at best I’ve been 75% sure. I’ll go with that. Because what I am certain of is God’s promise that He is with me, that He will never leave me, that nothing can separate me from His love – and so based on those promises, I’ll move forward on this ‘perhaps’.
If there was no ‘perhaps’ there’d be no need for faith.
Faith is believing that God’s promises are bigger than your ‘perhaps’.
It’s faith in Him, His character, His goodness, His love, His power and strength.
The miracle is often in the maybe.
Sometimes, like Jonathan here, all you have is a 'perhaps'.