Have you read, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson? It’s based on one of the most courageous acts recorded in Scripture. Using this amazing story, Batterson challenges readers on surviving and thriving when opportunity roars. The scene comes from the Old Testament and I am sure most people are unfamiliar with it.
“Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty men. He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard” (II Samuel 23:20-23).
What a gutsy guy Benaiah was! I’ve never met a lion chaser before but I agree with Batterson that, “Usually when the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: Run away.” Yes, “Normal people run away from lions… lion chasers are wired differently.”
Applying the story, Batterson suggests that, “When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith and chase lions, then God is robbed of the glory that rightly belongs to him.” His message challenges readers to leave spiritual complacency behind as they move forward in the adventuresome walk of faith. He raises the question: “What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest fear?”
Early in the book, Batterson notes “a fascinating distinction” made by Dr. Neal Roese in his book, If only. Roese distinguishes two types of regret: Regrets of action and regrets of inaction. “A regret of action is ‘wishing you hadn’t done something.’ In theological terms, its called a sin of commission. A regret of inaction is ‘wishing you had done something.’ In theological terms, it’s a sin of omission.”
Picking up on this, I agree with Batterson that, “…the Church has fixated on sins of commission for far too long. We have long lists of don’ts. Think of it as holiness by subtraction. We think holiness is the by-product of subtracting something from our lives that shouldn’t be there. And holiness certainly involves subtraction. But I think God is more concerned about sins of omission—those things we could have and should have done. It’s holiness by multiplication. Goodness is not the absence of badness. You can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right. Those who simply run away from sin are half-Christians. Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what’s wrong. We’re called to chase lions.”
Batterson’s book is thought provoking. Although it’s not the kind of book I typically read, I found it to be a needed challenge! Like most books, I don’t agree with everything, but I admit that his theme is a good one for middle-aged guys like myself. It’s also good for leaders who have grown weary in the work.
I promoted the book at the end of a leadership conference where our theme was “How to protect yourself and your ministry from burnout.” Those who have gone through burnout or who have been burned, often tend to “play it safe with God.” This can easily lead to spiritual complacency or unwillingness to step out in faith.
Batterson suggests that, “Spiritual maturity is seeing and seizing God-ordained opportunities. Think of every opportunity as God’s gift to you. What you do with those opportunities is your gift to God. I am absolutely convinced our greatest regrets in life will be the missed opportunities.”
A few more thoughts:
“Lion chasers thrive in the toughest of circumstances because they know that impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles. The more we grow, the bigger God should get. And the bigger God gets, the smaller our lions become. The reality is that nothing is too difficult for God.”
Unlike some of the positive thinking hype we hear from others, Batterson connects these themes with many passages from Scripture.