How many times have I (or you for that matter) said “I would like to do that but…” We seem to be stuck something is making it hard to do what we want to do. It seems as if whatever we want to do. There seems to be some kind of barrier. Some kind of opposing force that is stopping doing what we would like to do.
There is a story in ancient literature, the book of Judges to be exact, that explains this scenario really well. The background to the story is that a group of people have escaped from slavery they then make their way across a wilderness area but when they have the option of entering into a land flowing with milk and honey they sent in a reconnaissance mission. They listened to the stories those who had a look around told them. All twelve said it would not be easy but only two thought that they could succeed.
The people decided that the task of going into that land was too much for them. They shrank back but after a little while some of them have a go at entering this land but they did not succeed because they didn’t have the full backing of the group. They were then destined to journey round and round the wilderness for 40 years, by which time all of those who had said no were dead. They then made a second wholehearted attempt to enter the land. This time they succeeded and they overcame the resistance that they once so feared. That in itself is a story that we could learn a lot from but that is only the background.
Why we need resistance
The story in Judges chapter 3 goes on to explain that some of those from these opposing people groups were allowed to stay in the land so that the incomers would have to learn to fight. They would need to learn to develop resistance muscles to stop the ideas spread by their opposition overwhelming them. They had overcome great odds to get where they were but they could not just sit back and do nothing they had to keep on fighting. They had to keep on resisting so they continued to succeed.
The writer of Judges explains that they did not resist them they befriended them and even worse they intermarried. Oops they were supposed to be resisting them and yet they brought them into their homes and families. How on earth can you resist a group of people who have ideas that are in opposition to your own when your son or daughter has married someone from that group?
And if you don’t resist then what
When you allow values from an opposing value system to take root then there is conflict with your original value system and if that gets overtaken then you have problems. These incomers knew that they had a particularly successful value system and way of life but they did not guard it. It was a value system that their ancestors had fought to maintain and that had stood them in good stead even when they were wandering around the wilderness. Following generations had watered it down and accepted new ideas that did not have such a well-proven background.
The further they retreated from the old successful ways the worse their situation became. It was as if they were being overpowered yet again. They were stuck. It was then that they made a decision. They were going to go back to doing the things that had made them successful in the past. They recognized that they were successful when they had followed God’s advice and sought his help so they tried calling out for God’s help. We see in Judges chapter 3 God that God did send them someone who helped them get free, a man called Othniel.
Even those who know that ancient literature well might not have heard of him. They will have heard of some of the other characters in the book of Judges like Samson and Gideon but Othniel, who was he? He was related to one of the men who had been part of that reconnaissance mission who came back and said yes it would not be an easy thing to go into the land but it was possible. He led the resistance against their enemies and pushed the opposing forces back so that they could have the freedom they desired.
They kept this freedom while Othniel was alive but they went into another downward spiral when he died. Then they cried out again and another deliverer appeared this time it was Ehud. Another man who stepped forwards and dealt a heavy blow to their enemies. This cycle did not just happen once but again and again.
Lessons we can learn from this old story
One thing is that progress does not always go smoothly. I for one am thankful to know that it is not unusual to have cycles of struggling to go forwards. When the forces against me seem to have overpowered me because I have forgotten to resist them. It is even better to know that even when I think that they have taken over it is still possible to stand up and resist the forces stopping me going forwards and succeeding in making progress.
If you had not guessed these ideas tie in very nicely with those expressed in the 12 Essentials to Progress booklet we have produced. For your FREE copy type your name and email in the box on the right hand side. You will also start to receive notifications of future blog posts on this site.
Do you agree about this concept of old and new ideas being part of tug of war? What is your experience of this? Please add a comment to the box below and have your say.