Back in high school, (some years ago) my husband was on the wrestling team. He won more than he lost, placing in States his junior and senior year, winning many championships along the way. But every now and then, while I watched (yes, we’re high school sweethearts), as he was wrestling his opponent, the referee would blow his whistle, make a motion hitting his fist together and the two would have to go back to the starting position. They were locked in stalemate. The position they’d been in, allowed no advancement or improvement for either wrestler. They were stuck. No advance. No retreat.
Ever feel like that? Maybe you feel like that now thanks to our current lock-in. You can’t advance and there’s nowhere to retreat. You’re stuck. Forward movement has been impeded. I would venture to say there have been and will be seasons in your life when you encounter stalemate. Maybe you, like my youngest daughter, are a high school senior and because of our current health crisis, all your plans for this year came to a screeching halt. Stalemate. Maybe you just launched your small business and you had to close your doors. Stalemate. Or your wedding was cancelled. Stalemate. No going forward and no retreat.
Whenever my husband (and later our son) would lock in stalemate, I’d watch as he would assess his situation, searching for any way to advance his position. He’d move an arm here or there, use his feet in hopes to trip up the opponent or gain ground, whatever he could do. Every fiber of his being was invested in finding a way out. His thoughts were solely focused on advancement. He refused to stay there, locked in stalemate. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes not. The referee would only allow it to go on for so long before blowing the whistle and sending the competitors back to the starting position. Do you need the whistle blown? To get back to your starting position, breathe, regroup, and go again? Staying in stalemate is not an option and is no good for anyone.
I’m reminded of one of the most (considerably) famous stories in the Bible. David and Goliath. Even if you’re unfamiliar with scripture, you’ve most likely heard a reference to this story at some time in your life. The Israelite army was at a stalemate with the Philistine army. Each army stood on its side of the valley waiting. Neither advanced. Neither retreated. For forty days Goliath, a Philistine giant at 9’9” tall, taunted the Israelites every single day, slandering the name of their God. Can you relate to how the Israelites must have been feeling during this? Taunted by circumstances and unable to move? Stuck in stalemate. Then one day, David, a young, shepherd boy showed up to bring his older warrior brothers’ food and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. After some negotiations with King Saul, David grabbed five stones and his slingshot and agreed to face off with the giant. Enough of the stalemate.
“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV). And as the story plays out, David slung the stone, struck Goliath right in the middle of the forehead (thanks to all his training saving his sheep from lions and bears) and defeated him, thereby defeating the Philistine army who ran away once their champion fell. Stalemate gave way to victory for the Israelites.
So, you may thinking, “Okay, well that’s all well and good for them, but I don’t have David here with his stones and slingshot to help defeat this giant I’m facing to end my stalemate!” But you do! David did not go out there by his own might or strength. He couldn’t overcome the stalemate alone. He knew God was with him according to his bold declaration in the second part our verse. Assess your situation, seeking God’s wisdom and guidance on how you could advance. But when locked in stalemate, let God be the referee, blowing the whistle to allow you to restart. Let this time serve as a renewal. Breathe. A time to move out of stalemate, pick up your proverbial slingshot and stones, face your giant with God leading the way. And who knows, as you move from stalemate to victory, what moments you’ll find to treasure along the way?
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