Monday, January 28, 2013

Jonathan's very dumb plan

In 1 Samuel 14 we find a good man making what seems to be a very dumb plan.

The situation can be summarized like this: the Philistines (the bad guys) came up against Israel (the good guys) with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops such that they numbered "like the sand on the seashore in multitude." (13:5) Israel, on the other hand, had a whopping 600 guys, none of whom were armed except Saul and Jonathan (the good guys' bad commander and his son). Needless to say, this situation wasn't looking so good for the good guys.

Thankfully, Jonathan seems to be a good man who has faith in God. So in 1 Samuel 14 he has a short conversation with his armor-bearer that goes something like this:

Jonathan: "Let's go get the Philistines cause God might do something awesome!"
Armor-Bearer: "Yeah! Follow your heart! I'm in!"
Jonathan: "Okay, here's the plan: we'll go stand out in the open. We'll then do whatever they say - and if they tell us come over so they can hurt us, we'll know God will defeat them!"

Riiiiiight. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a really a dumb plan?

Please understand that I mean no disrespect to Jonathan. He's one of the bright shining lights in the Scriptures and you'd be hard-pressed not to like him. Besides, I can't argue with the results: it happens just like he suspected it would. He and his armor-bearer kill a bunch of guys, God causes an earthquake that completely freaks the Philistines out, and all of Israel (even the really scared ones) rush after the Philistines to finish them off. Oh, and in the midst of the confusion the Philistines even start killing one another. Bonus.

Still, can you imagine someone running Jonathan's plan by a military general? They'd laugh you out of the room, if not lock you up in an institution. (Perhaps that's why Jonathan didn't even tell anyone besides his armor-bearer until afterwards!) And honestly, what would YOU have thought of that plan? Would you have agreed to it as his armor-bearer did?

On the surface, Jonathan's plan seems ridiculous. It sounds naive, short-sighted, unwise and possibly insane. This is a hopeless mission. Shouldn't he let Israel's military experts handle this one? Why would he throw away his life? Besides, the people he's trying to rescue with this mission sure won't help him - they're terrified and ill-equipped. They may even turn on him in the end.

If we peek below the surface, however, we see a tremendous heart of faith. Perhaps he didn't have all the details worked out, but he was absolutely confident that God did. He wasn't exactly sure how God would provide, but he knew with certainty that He would. This is what inspires his armor-bearer back then and us still today.

Now, you might be wondering why I'm talking so much about Jonathan in a blog about fundraising. Here's why: your fundraising looks a lot like Jonathan's battle plan.

On the surface, your plan seems ridiculous. It sounds naive, short-sighted, unwise and possibly insane. Fundraising is a hopeless mission. Shouldn't you let the fundraising experts handle this one? Why would you throw away your life? Besides, the people you're trying to rescue with your mission sure won't help you - they're terrified and ill-equipped. They may even turn on you in the end.

If we peek below the surface, however, we see a tremendous heart of faith. You don't have all the details of fundraising worked out, but you're absolutely confident that God does. You're not exactly sure how God will provide, but you know with certainty that He will. This is what inspires your donors today and those you'll be reaching with the gospel in the days to come.

But maybe that last paragraph doesn't quite describe you. Maybe your confidence in God waivers. Maybe you feel scared more than you feel faithful. You needn't worry, and here's why: your fundraising looks a lot like Jesus's battle plan.

On the surface, Jesus's plan seemed ridiculous. It sounded naive, short-sighted, unwise and possibly insane. It was a hopeless mission. Shouldn't He have let the religious experts handle this one? Why would He throw away His life? Besides, the people He's trying to rescue with this mission sure won't help Him - they're terrified and ill-equipped. They even turned on Him in the end.

If we peek below the surface, however, we see a tremendous heart of faith. Perhaps He didn't have all the details worked out, but He was absolutely confident that His Father did (Mt 24:36). He wasn't exactly sure how God would provide, but He knew with certainty that He would (Mt 26:39). In His case, however, His mission did far more than inspire us. His mission is what saved us, His mission is what continues to save us and His mission is what will one day save us.

That's the gospel, and that's your hope in fundraising. It's okay if you don't have the best fundraising plan ever. Trust God and make a plan to do something.

Then go stand out in the open.