By SHERYE S. GREEN
We can always choose God’s way
One of my favorite characters from the Old Testament is King Jehoshaphat, the fourth ruler of the southern kingdom of Judah. His life is detailed in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Jehoshaphat’s father, Asa, had been king before him. In a time when many rulers did what was right in their own eyes, both of these men were “good” leaders and sought to honor God. Although the backdrop of this story dates back to 890 B.C., it has great relevance for today.
Three nations have allied with one another and have come to wage war against Judah —the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites. Messengers bring word that the invaders are close and that their number is strong — described as a “great multitude” (2 Chronicles 20:2). The enemies, getting closer by the second, have almost paralyzed not only the people, but more importantly, King Jehoshaphat. The fate of Judah hangs in the balance.
Jehoshaphat calls out in desperation to God in the midst of this great crisis facing his country. A national day of fasting and prayer is declared. The king prays on behalf of his countrymen and reminded God of how He saved the lives of His people in earlier times, and imploring Him to do the same for the citizens of Judah. At the end of the prayer, you can hear the anguish in this monarch’s soul: “…We have no strength to face this vast multitude that has come against us, nor do we know what to do, except that our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
After making this public declaration, King Jehoshaphat is given a word from God through a man named Jahaziel, who tells Judah’s leader, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
King Jehoshaphat had a choice. He possibly had several choices that day. He could have sent word to a nearby, friendly kingdom and begged for their army to join his. He could have cowered in surrender, appealing to the mercy of the opposing armies. He could have relied on pride, bowed up his back, and led his military into a battle they probably would have lost. He could have thrown off his crown and run for the hills.
History, His story, tells us that Jehoshaphat made the choice to encounter this very difficult trial according to what God would tell him to do, and not based on his human faculties. Jehoshaphat is brutally honest in his plea: We have no strength to face these enemies, and we have no idea what to do in this situation. Does any of this sound familiar based on the current state of affairs in our nation?
Free will is one of the greatest gifts God gives to mankind. Each and every day, we get to choose how we will live our lives: for ourselves or for God. Because Jehoshaphat made the choice to align his heart, his mind and his actions with the Almighty, God chose to defend and protect not only him but an entire nation. The kingdom of Judah was saved as a result of that one simple choice.
The difficulties you face today may have taken on the appearance of an advancing army — trying to make a mortgage payment when you’ve lost your job; coping with a difficult marital situation; struggling through chemotherapy; grappling with the loss of a loved one; facing an invisible virus that has killed hundreds of thousands. Don’t let seemingly insurmountable odds back you into a corner.
Making important life decisions can be scary. Courage is required. No matter the complexity of the ordeal, you always have a choice: your way or God’s. Choices do have consequences. Make sure you’ve made the right one. Step out in faith toward the One who loves you more than any other. Then watch to see His mighty, amazing power unleashed in your life.
Sherye S. Green is a Jacksonian and a wife, mother and grandmother. Sherye and her husband, Mark, are members of First Baptist Jackson. She is also the author of Abandon Not My Soul and Tending the Garden of My Heart.