When you don’t know what to do

I love the story in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat is king of Judah, and he receives word that a huge and brutal army is coming to get him, and is not far away. His response: he is afraid, and so he sets his face to seek the Lord. (Right!) He proclaims a fast in all Judah. Everyone in Judah assembles in order to seek help from God.

Then Jehoshaphat stands in the assembly of all his people and prays. He affirms God’s sovereignty and power. He reminds God that He Himself was the one who brought Israel/Judah to this place, that God’s actions and plan have brought them to this pass. God is Judah’s God. And now all these enemies are coming against them, and they are powerless. He ends with “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

And as the people of Judah stand there–men, women, babies, grandmas–the Spirit of the Lord speaks through Jahaziel, who belongs to the company of worship-leaders. He says, “Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid..at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Go down against them. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”

Jehoshaphat and all the people fall on their faces and worship the Lord. The worship-leaders stand up and begin to praise God in a very loud voice.

And early the next morning, they all go out into the wilderness. Jehoshaphat tells them to believe in the Lord, and sends out the worship leaders, singing, in FRONT of the army.

And here’s the part that gives me chills. “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, so that they were routed. For they rose up against [each other] and helped to destroy one another.”

And so, as Judah’s worshippers and army come over the rise and look down into the wilderness, they see a horde of dead bodies–not one escaped. It takes Judah three whole days to bring back all the plunder from the camp. And they return to Jerusalem with great joy, praising God. And the fear of God falls on all the surrounding nations.

Whenever I am in a situation where I don’t know what to do, because I face an insurmountable obstacle, I think back on Jehoshaphat and his response, and I am moved to do this:

•Acknowledge my fear and set my face to seek God.

•Bring the people who are involved in the situation with me into it, and pray with them.

•As we pray, acknowledge God’s sovereignty and power over all situations, including this one.

•Remind God and ourselves of how God’s work has brought us to this particular place. (And if my own sin has played a part in the situation, acknowledge that.)

•Admit that I don’t know what to do, and am powerless, but set my eyes on the Lord. And then wait for Him to act.

•Proceed with worship, trust, and obedience.

I am seeing this play out these last few weeks in the Bible study I direct. We were in dire need of workers for our childcare program, and for small-group leaders. I have confessed to God that I have not been as diligent in recruiting and training leaders this year as I could have been. But I have also had at least 16 people turn me down. SIXTEEN! And for good, godly reasons. And so, I had to sit down and acknowledge that the hand of God was in this situation, in our need. I laid the whole thing out before Him and confessed my powerlessness, and our need. I prayed II Chron. 20:12: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
Those of us on the leadership team began to talk about what God was wanting to happen, that He was preventing us from proceeding as usual. We came to the conclusion that our Bible study morning needs to be restructured for the fall Bible study, to include a time of large-group teaching. We got excited about the idea of teaching people to do their own study, not merely zipping through the canned questions in a fill-in-the-blank study. We are proceeding with that plan. This does not negate the need for more small-group leaders, but we would not have thought to do it if we’d had enough leaders.

And 2 days after that meeting, I got a phone call from the first woman who had turned me down. “Laura, God keeps putting this back in front of my face. I’ve talked with my husband, and I think I need to say yes.”

As I have called several of the Titus 2 women from the group, none of them have been available to lead, but they have all gladly agreed to pray for the situation. One of them spent an hour on the phone with me, suggesting more names of people to ask.

One of those people stopped by our Bible study sign-up table this morning. I asked her quite directly if she’d consider leading. She responded with a delighted, “I’d LOVE to. I will pray about it, and get back to you soon.”

And a woman in church this morning leaned over to me and said, “I want to help you with childcare on Tuesdays.”

And so, I am worshipping God. I am praising Him because He is powerful and mighty. He raises up people to pray and to worship. He raises up armies and leaders, and even childcare workers. He fights our battles. He it is Who has brought us to this place. He is good. He is the great God.


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