Winning Lost Battles: An Unexpected Lesson from Israel & Selma

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I hate to loose, but I’m often times a quitter.

Quitters never win, I know, but hear me out.

We’re about to go on a tad bit of a journey here so follow me…

A friend of mine posted a picture on Instagram quoting an older man at his church who said, “Black folk let stuff die too easily. We have to be committed to our cause.”
I read it, immediately thought of myself, and agreed, “Yep, I let stuff die quite quickly…always have.”

I moved on through the day thinking nothing of my proud self-looser declaration until I went to the movies to see “Selma.”

First let me say, I very rarely cry in life, let alone in movies. I think I’ve cried in one movie ever. However, at the very end as the credits were rolling, I found myself crying.

I won’t share all of my sentiments, but a few of the thoughts that led me to tears were:

    1. This was not that long ago at all. My parents were alive for this.
    2. These people were beaten and some even died for black people to have basic rights; rights that many choose to not even use today.
    3. I somehow won an EMMY a couple years ago for a package I put together about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What an honor to win that award. Not because it’s an EMMY, but because I wouldn’t have been able to win if it weren’t for the movement he led that I ended up doing a package about, decades later. I could go on a tailspin with this one so I’ll stop here.
    4. Ferguson and other recent racial stories flooded my mind as well

I’m finishing up this book called “The Kneeling Warrior,” and as I read today, I found a SUPER interesting correlation between Selma and a story found in Judges 19 and 20.

I’ll share abbreviated versions of both stories and then end this thing with some pretty dope present-day application.

Story 1: Marches from Selma to Montgomery

There were three marches down a 54-mile highway from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 that were all a part of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign. These marches eventually led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act, which allowed blacks to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The Marches were as follows:

March #1 – March 7, 1965: Resulted in what’s called “Bloody Sunday.” 600 protestors were attacked with billy clubs and tear gas.

This is about the time I would’ve quit. But they didn’t.

March #2 – March 9, 1965: Two days later they march again, got to the county line; the opposing troops decide to let the marchers through. Martin Luther King takes a moment to pray then decides to head back to Selma. He wanted federal protection for the march. That night, a white group murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a minister from Boston who came to Selma to participate in the 2nd march.

March #3 – March 21, 1965: With Federal approval, they successfully completed the march to the capital of Montgomery. Which led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act.

Story #2 – Israel – Judges 19 and 20:

(you have to read the Bible to get all the details, I’m gonna skip a lot to shorten this)

A Levite and his wife are staying in Gibeah where some Benjamites ended up raping and abusing the Levite’s wife to the point of death. The Levite gets home, cuts his dead wife into 12 pieces and sends a piece of her body to each of the tribes of Israel to show them what was done to his wife.

This starts a war against the Benjamites, but peep how it’s done.

Battle #1 – Judges 20:18-21:

The Israelites arose and went to the house of God and asked God “Which of us shall take the lead to battle against the Benjamites?” The Lord said Judah.

The Israelites go with Judah leading and 22,000 of their men died in that battle.

Battle #2 – the next day – Judges 20:23-25:

The Israelites go back to the Lord and ask “Shall we go up again to battle?” And the Lord tells them to go. This time, 18,000 of the Israelite men died.

Battle #3 – Judges 20:26-35:

They ask “Shall we yet again go out to battle against our brethren the Benjamites or shall we quit?” And once again, the Lord said, go. Only this time He adds, “I will deliver them into your hand.”

Peep the parallels between Selma and Israel in the chart below.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 12.00.26 AM

I know you’re thinking cool, but what does this have to do with me in 2015?

I’m glad you asked. There are three great and important things we need to do when we’re facing discouragement or are in need of direction/breakthrough:

(Note: These 3 points are from “The Kneeling Warrior” by Dr. David Ireland and based on Matthew 7:7)

#1: Ask

The Israelites asked God if they should go to battle. He answered yes. They went and were defeated.

Not cool God, not cool.

This is the point where most of us, including myself, would give up and move on to the next new venture, calling this dream dead. Or we’d get angry with God because he told us to do something then seemingly went against His own instructions. But consider this:

“When the revealed will of God is thwarted, we must stay in spiritual warfare mode.” – Dr. David Ireland

I love the verse that comes after their first round of defeat:

Judges 20: 22, “But the people, the men of Israel, took courage and strengthened themselves and again set their battle line in the same place where they formed it the first day.”

They were defeated, but they took courage, strengthened themselves and got back in position.

#2 Seek

One of the most powerful scenes in Selma was when Matthew 6:26 was quoted. I got super excited because just a few hours before I was in church and Pastor Evans shared from the exact same passage! How dope is that?

Pastor Evans’s message was from Matthew 6:25-34 which reminds us that if God can watch over the birds and such, we need not worry about our tomorrow.

Verse 33 of Matthew 6 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

It is an undeniable fact that without the guidance and hand of the Lord in both the Alabama Marches and the story in Judges, these outcomes would have been completely different.

This also leads me to believe that if we live our lives worrying, we too will have completely different outcomes than if we choose to walk hand-in-hand with him, day-by-day, trusting Him with all the details along the way.

It is absolutely tough to let go of all the little things we deal with day in and day out. Our futures, our plans, all the things we freak out about when they don’t go the way we’d hoped or planned…I totally know how easy it is to get discouraged in those moments, but today, be reminded of the power of seeking God.

He will do more than we can ask or think when we don’t worry and seek Him first, wholeheartedly. Joyce Meyer put it this way, “When we put Him first, keep Him there and seek to do things His way, we are showing that we delight in Him. Then He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).”

Sounds simple enough right? But what if like the Levites, you do this and experience defeat again?

I’m glad you asked.

#3 Knock

“The victory must be secured in the prayer closet before it is experienced on the battlefield.” – Dr. David Ireland

Knocking in prayer entails the deepest, most intense form of praying.

In Judges 20:26 we see that the Israelites wept, they fasted from morning until evening and they offered burnt and peace offerings before the Lord.

They thoroughly searched their hearts for sin or spiritual roadblocks…they got SERIOUS.

This is some meaty stuff. I could elaborate in so many areas, but I’ll wrap this up here. May you be strengthened and encouraged by this powerful passage from David Ireland’s book, The Kneeling Warrior:

You must know how to approach God and stay in His presence until you receive the needed strategy to secure His blessings…Determine where you may have gone wrong in your last skirmish with the enemy. Armed with the truth of Scripture, take your spiritual warfare to a new dimension by fighting for the promises of God. They are worth every second of every fight you must undergo. You are a warrior. Fight for the purpose of God for your life and this generation!

  • Marsha Sherrill
    January 21, 2015

    Excellent post Kandis! I truly enjoy your insights, encouragement & wisdom. Ask, Seek, Knock!! Of course! I see it like this, I ask for direction, then using direction I seek destination, once there I knock on the door. I love it. I also love love the last quote. Especially “fighting for the promises of God”. That answered a question I didn’t know I had.

    Now, of course, I have to read the book!! Lol. Thanks for posting & imparting wisdom!!
    Marsha Sherrill

    • Kandis7
      March 2, 2015

      Thanks for reading and commenting!! :) I hope you read the book, it is definitely greatness through and through. This book along with Lisa Bevere’s “Girls with Swords” totally changed my perspective on how I process God’s promises and my role in this life as His daughter. I’d recommend you read them both!

  • Notes Hardin
    January 13, 2015

    Thank you so much for these encouraging words. I appreciate how you broke down that story in Judges in a way I’ve never heard before. It gave me so much insight into the heart of a persistent and consistent child of God, despite setbacks. Thank you again miss Davis.|

    • Kandis7
      January 13, 2015

      That’s dope to hear! I know, I was blown away by the revelation on that one. Really different perspective. If you’d like to go deeper on the matter, I’d suggest you pick up the book! Thanks for reading and commenting!