Whenever I hear the words “fight or flight,” an image like this usually pops into my head:
In the unfortunate situation that we ever encounter a bear, we will have two options: we can fight our way out, or we can take flight and flee.
(Insert “well, you just have to run faster than the people you’re with” joke.)
What about the situations that aren’t as dramatic as boxing a full-grown Kodiak bear, but still cause our hearts to start racing?
Maybe there was a time when God placed a burden on your heart. Regardless of whether it was to serve on the mission field, to volunteer in your church, to have a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store, or any other task that He called you to, you felt like a deer in the headlights when He shared it with you.
In these moments, we have the fight or flight instinct: either we will fight whatever opposition and fears we may encounter in order to do God’s will, or we will allow our fear to keep us from following His will.
Today we’ll look at three examples in the Bible where God tasked men with large jobs, with each man having a different response.
One of the best-known stories about hiding from God comes from the book of Jonah. The book of Jonah begins with God assigning the following task to Jonah:
“Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” – Jonah 1:2-3
Jonah didn’t hesitate to resist God. He immediately determined that God’s task for him was not going to be added to his weekly planner, and he made a run for it. It was only after he was swallowed by a large fish in the ocean (and was left to sit in its stomach for three days) that he finally repented and promised that he would go to Ninevah.
Granted, none of us will probably be consumed by a large fish during our lifetime, but it doesn’t mean that God won’t try to lead us back to pursuing His goals and desires for us by using uncomfortable situations.
Then there’s Moses, the man who God used to deliver His people from the hands of their captors in Egypt. Moses wasn’t a fan of God’s game plan when He gave him the initial instructions through the burning bush. After wrestling with God on the matter and much hesitancy, Moses eventually says the following:
But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” – Exodus 4:13
The next verses explain that God became angry with Moses. Although God promised Moses that He would give him the strength he needed, Moses still doubted God. Moses eventually submitted to God’s will, but in the process it caused unnecessary conflict. Have you ever questioned whether God was choosing the right person when He gave you a task that seemed too overwhelming? I know I’ve definitely doubted Him multiple times.
The final man who we’ll look at is Isaiah, who was sent as a prophet to the people of Judah and Israel. The appointment of this task can be found in Isaiah 6, with the following verse being one of my favorites in the Bible:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
Without hesitation, Isaiah fully subjected himself to God’s plan. Despite his feelings of inadequacy and any other fears he may have experienced, he did not allow this to hinder his willingness to serve God.
Just like Isaiah, we can be quick to take action when God calls us to do something scary. As I wrote in “A spirit of fear,” we can avoid having a spirit of fear even when we feel the emotion of fear. Not only do we have the countless examples of God’s faithfulness to people in the Bible, but we have our own personal experiences to remind us that God will never abandon us. When He calls us to a task, He will be with us 100% of the way.
I pray that when He does call us, both you and me, that our response will be “Here am I. Send me!” We don’t have to take flight in these situations; rather, He will give us the strength to fight.