Of the many intriguing people you read about in scripture, Benaiah is one of my favorites. He was a famous warrior, one of King David’s “mighty men.” He fought and defeated powerful enemies of Israel. And while there were other great warriors in that day, Benaiah performed something unique, described in 1 Chronicles 11, which fascinates me to no end.
We are told that he “climbed down into a pit and killed a lion on a snowy day.” Wait, what? It seems that there are three unusual aspects to this story. One, snowy days were rare in this part of the world. Two, a lion in a pit was also uncommon. And three, a guy that would choose to climb down into that pit and fight that lion was one of a kind.
Was this a trap of some kind? Was the lion defending something valuable? Or when coming upon the lion in the pit did Benaiah’s buddies say, “I bet you can’t kill that lion,” and Ben said, “watch me,” and then hopped into the pit. I suspect it’s reason #3. That’s how guys role sometimes.
I don’t know why this story is included in the Bible, except that Benaiah is so badass that the author just couldn’t leave it out. You can’t make this stuff up. Regardless of the circumstances, all I know is that if there’s one guy from the Bible I’d want on my side in a fight, it would be Benaiah.
We find the story in 1 Kings 19. As Elijah stands outside his cave and waits for the Lord to speak, he first experiences a mighty rushing wind, near hurricane force. So powerful, this must be the Lord!
But the Lord was not in the wind.
Then, a massive earthquake. Surely, this is how the Lord sets foot on the earth.
But the Lord was not in the earthquake.
Next, a wildfire consuming the countryside. Of course, the Lord is like fire and everything He touches is lit ablaze.
But the Lord was not in the fire.
Then Elijah hears something soft. He turns his head in that direction. It’s an almost imperceptible brush against his ear, a quiet passing, merely a whisper.
It is the Lord. God is found in the whisper.
I love the way the Lord is so counter-intuitive. We think that when the Lord speaks He does so by smashing his way into our lives. God finds it better to whisper. We must listen, pay attention, cock our ear away from the noise of our culture and towards quiet places. Why do so many people find that they feel closer to God when out in the nature? Because it’s quiet. Learn to cultivate times and places of quiet, for it is there that we find the Lord.
This week I’m at Cru’s World Stint Briefing in Chicago. We’re training and preparing close to 500 missionaries who will leave here in a few days to go throughout the world to reach students this next year. Many will go to difficult, hard-to-reach places. Most will be challenged by living in a foreign culture and being away from home this next year. All will return with fresh eyes for how God works and how God is moving among young people the world over.
We often hear in our world about something “changing everything,” which many times is no more than an advertising slogan. However, when one of these young people brings the message of the gospel to another young person who’s never heard the good news, then truly everything in their life begins to change. Hope replaces despair. Meaning replaces loss. God enters a life. The world changes, one person at a time.
Would you take a minute a pray for these fresh missionaries? Our prayers help pave the way for the conversations they will be having this year and, through our prayers, we get to join with them in changing the world.
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
So goes this prayer found in Psalm 119:18, the longest psalm and chapter in the Bible, written in praise of scripture and its benefits on our lives. The Holy Scriptures are worth reading, discussing, pondering, memorizing, praying over, listening to and generally spending any amount of time taking in. No moment in scripture is a waste of time.
The scriptures at our fingertips really are amazing. I don’t think about their life-changing qualities nearly enough. The prayer by the psalmist, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law,” reminds us of the profundity of the Bible. The scriptures are a conduit to the ways of the Lord, a power cord connecting us to wisdom and insight. Wonderful things lie before us if we will allow God to open our eyes.