From the chair and the desk:
“When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the best men of Israel and arrayed them against the Syrians. The rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and they were arrayed against the Ammonites. And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”
-1 Chronicles 19:10-13
We read this in our Bible reading plan this morning, and every time I come across this verse my heart stirs within me. Like the 1 Corinthians 16 verse, this is a passage that ran through my head often in my college years and shaped who I am today. John Piper first introduced me to this verse in a very worthwhile sermon on taking risks for God, in which he tells of Esther and Paul and Daniel’s companions; he starts with this short declaration from Joab:
“What does that mean? It means that Joab had made a strategic decision for the cities of God and he did not know how it would turn out. He had no special revelation from God on this issue. He had to make a decision on the basis of sanctified wisdom. He had to risk or run. He did not know how it would turn out. So he made his decision and he handed the results over to God. And this was right. It is right to risk for the cause of God.”
-John Piper, “Risk and the Cause of God”
Piper’s point–more importantly, the implication of these stories–is that it is right to risk for God. It will not always turn out the way we hope. Sometimes, in the short term, it will appear that we have failed. To those who do not know Christ and the hope of his appearing, it will appear as if we have made a mistake.
Piper goes on to say, “There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least not in the short run. John the Baptist risked calling a spade a spade when Herod divorced his wife to take his bother’s wife, Herodias. And John got his head chopped off for it. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God.”
We still have the opportunity to risk today, because we do not know what will become of our decisions. In this, we can give great glory to God. Yet, our risks only cost what they appear to and no more, because we know what will become of this world. “For while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:4-5).
“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.