The Bare Soul - February 15, 2009
Run Toward the Roar

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "Run Toward the Roar" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on February 12, 2009.

Run Toward the Roar - February 12, 2009

II Samuel 23:20-21 - Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day. He killed an Egyptian, an impressive man. Now the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear.

Fear can both immobilize and paralyze in a place of indecision. To honestly look at fear, we see that at its bare root is the fear of loss. When we fear something and we react in a less than courageous way, we are generally thinking (either consciously or sub-consciously) that we might lose something -- anything from a position of power or maybe even the loss of our own life. While there is something to be said for not rushing ahead with impudent abandon, there also comes a time to act. Unfortunately, many a man or woman's potential is paralyzed by a deferred decision that would have ultimately given them the advantage in a given situation. Throughout scripture, we are given role models that personify those who dare not to defer but to act with conviction. While there are many bible characters that typify a strong sense of decisiveness there are only a few that stand out with an air of "chutzpah" like Benaiah the son Jehoiada. The scripture points out that this Israeli warrior was a mighty man of David's army. Indeed, he was one of David's "thirty" which consisted of a group of 30 specially trained commandos that were undoubtedly the equivalent of any of today's most elite special operations teams. Men such as Benaiah were trained to make split-second decisions that would ultimately mean life or death for either them or their foe. These were fearless men who had developed a keen sense of themselves, including their abilities and their limitations. However, to think that they had always possessed this type of warring aptitude and character would be a stretch. As in the case of ALL strengths, whether mental or physical, they must grow and be nurtured until they are keen and sharp. The bible is quick to point out someone like Benaiah's heroic exploits, however there is nothing stated on how he became the mighty warrior we read about in II Samuel.

As we see in the opening scripture, the passage highlights Benaiah's résumé with three extraordinary feats. While all three are remarkable, the second exploit is the subject of this discussion. What would motivate a man to jump down into a pit with a lion in order to slay it? After all, isn't the beast confined with no worries of its escape? So, why not just leave it be? Or, if Benaiah did want to kill it, why not heave stones or arrows down on it until it was dead? We need to look at the heart of this warrior to understand why he did what he did. Benaiah had undoubtedly learned how to face down his foes since he was a lad in training. He invariably knew that the expedient thing to do in any battle was to meet his enemy head on. He knew no other way from his early training. Regarding the captive lion, there was no doubt what he needed to do in that situation. He must meet this adversary head on and with fearlessness. II Samuel is careful to point out another important dynamic in this honor struggle; It was a snowy day! Once Benaiah had entered the pit with the lion, there would be no escape for either him or the lion. If the sides of the pit had provided any hand (or paw) holds before the snow, there was certainly nothing to grasp on the slick, moisture-laden clumps of earth that encircled their enclosure. There may have been a way to climb out of the pit before the snow, but not after! In addition, the bottom of the pit would be slick, offering little surety of footholds for either man or beast. In truth, these were not ideal conditions to battle this lion, yet Benaiah faced and defeated his enemy on his own terms.

Benaiah knew neither the paralysis of fear nor the over-analysis that often robs us of a victory. The only difference between us and Benaiah is the giving of our hearts to PRACTICE faith with a spirit of wisdom. As stated, Benaiah's exploits are wonderful and awe-inspiring. However, we don't hear about his learning and struggling, his falling and failings to become the man of faith that typifies him in the Word of God. This warrior undoubtedly heard the roar of the lion and ran toward the pit, leapt in, engaged his prey, thereby defeating it. This was a calculated "wisdom-decision" in the heart of Benaiah.  He knew no fear in this regard so therefore he could not suffer loss. The only thing that he risked losing was the advantage of meeting and defeating this fearsome foe. For if he didn't defeat it now when he could do it on his terms, a future encounter might be even less to his advantage. The fear of the Lord and the love of what is right and expeditious can oftentimes be the impetus to keep us all from lapsing into that place of trepidation where we lose a  sense of ourselves and what is right. Daily, we hear the "roar" of our troubles and predicaments in what we determine to be our "pits of despair". How can we face them? How can we deal with them in a demonstrative way like heroic Benaiah? The key is to summon up courage that is born out of wisdom. If we have never wielded the Sword of the Holy Spirit before in the face of our problems, it is unrealistic to think that we can be "lion-killers" without previous faith-building challenges. (Even David had killed the bear and the lion before he went after Goliath [I Samuel 17:34-36].) If we stand up to our smaller fears, not calculating the loss that might incur, then one day we will be ready to run toward the roar when we hear our adversary challenging us from the pit of our own circumstances.

Once we have been thoroughly trained to battle against all the schemes of him that ... prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8), then we will know when we hear his roar we must engage him. In everyone's life, including Benaiah's circumstance, there will be a time when the snow has melted and the ground has dried up and the lion within the pit is ravenous. Then, he will find a "paw up" the sides of that deep pit and once again be free. He will then come looking for his next victim. Benaiah knew this, and that's why he couldn't just let the beast live with the chance of escape. The learned warrior knew that it would be criminal against his honor and the honor of the Lord to do otherwise. In the same manner, beloved, we must equip ourselves NOW for the battles ahead. There will be a day when we too must meet our lion in a pit on a snowy day. Until that day, may we fortify ourselves with courage in the small victories that the Lord Jesus Christ is affording us through our varied circumstances. He only wants us to be wise in the power of His might to run toward the roar with a holy resolution. May God give us all the wisdom and the strength for that battle ahead!

Holy Father, equip us with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Give us the heart of a warrior with both courage and insight to meet and defeat our daily enemies. Prepare us for those momentous days ahead that will define us as we all run toward the roar of the opportunities you provide for us to be victors in You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,


Run Toward the Roar - February 12, 2009


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