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Focus on objectives, not obstacles

Years ago, a shoe company in the United States sent a sales representative to another country, who promptly asked to be sent home. He said, “No one here wears shoes.” So they brought him back and sent someone else. Shortly after the new salesperson arrived, he sent a cable back to the company, which read, “This market is absolutely unlimited. No one here wears shoes!”

It is all in how you look at things. There always will be people who have no vision, no faith and no interest in change. I remember when I first started preaching at age 19 and became a pastor at age 20, people would tell me, “You are too young. You can’t preach. You are not qualified.” I would grant to them that I didn’t feel qualified. But I did feel called. We started a little Bible study in Riverside, Calif., in a small church. Attendance began to grow, and the building couldn’t contain us any longer. So we began looking around for somewhere else in the city to move, and we found an abandoned church that could be leased.

When we told our host that we would be moving our group of young people to a church we would be leasing, they said, “It will never work. It is going to fail. You are too young. You can’t do it. And besides, the only reason these kids go to your Bible study is because their parents let them.” So we left the old location with 300 people, and one week later, we met in the new location on a Sunday morning with 500 people.

After the church had grown, we began to pray about the idea of evangelistic crusades. We were told, “Oh, no one is going to do crusades anymore. Crusades will die with Billy Graham.” And that was interesting, because when Billy Graham began preaching, they told him, “Crusades died with Billy Sunday.”

So we planned our first crusade for the Pacific Amphitheatre in 1990. People said that venue was too big, that it was not going to work. But we took a step of faith. We said, “Let’s see what God will do.” The event broke the Pacific Amphitheatre’s attendance records. So the next year, when we talked about holding the crusade at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, people said, “That is overdoing it. Don’t do that.” But we went to Angel Stadium, and the crowds continued to grow.

When we said, “Hey, maybe we should hold a crusade somewhere else,” we were told that it was a Southern California thing. After we had success with crusades in Washington and Oregon, we were told it was a West Coast thing. Then we went to the East Coast. And then to the South. We have held crusades in Australia and New Zealand. And 21 years later, we are still holding crusades, because God is still at work. The point is that we have to take steps of faith.

I would rather try and fail than never try at all. I don’t want to live in the past. I don’t want to be wistfully looking back 30 years. Rather, I want to say, “Look at what God did today,” and “What is God going to do tomorrow?”

The Bible tells the story of two men who saw God for who he really was and were willing to take steps of faith. They were sent out as spies along with 10 other men into the land of Canaan. The majority came back and basically said, “You know, things are big in the land of Canaan, but there are also big obstacles, challenges and defeats waiting for us. The people in that country are huge. They are like giants to us.” The very idea of trying to go in and conquer the land terrified them. That was the majority report.

But Joshua and Caleb brought back the minority report. They saw the obstacles and challenges, but they also saw opportunities and great victories if they would attack.

The problem with the others was they focused their attention on the obstacles instead of the objective. And when you fix your attention on the obstacle rather than the objective, fear will always eclipse your faith. Their objective was to get a strategy on how to do it – not to determine whether they could do it. Obstacles are the frightening things we see when we take our eyes off the objective.

Not only that, but fear had stirred the Israelites into a panic. They were absolutely overwhelmed by fear. And when you allow fear to grip you, everything is affected. But faith cancels out fear. Faith and fear are not good roommates. When faith moves in, fear moves out. And when fear moves in, faith, in effect, moves out.

God does not want us to run from our giants; he wants us to attack them. We all have giants that we face in life. By a giant, I mean anything or anyone who frightens us, who haunts us, who overwhelms us.

Learn more from Greg Laurie about slaying strongholds in his book “Dealing with Giants”

So what do we do with giants? Answer: We kill them. We don’t negotiate with them. We don’t set up peace treaties with them. And we don’t make friends with them. Remember the story of David and Goliath? David was on an errand for his father, taking some food to his brothers on the front lines in a war with the Philistines. And then he volunteered to take on the giant Goliath.

When David saw his adversary, he ran toward him. He didn’t just hold his ground and wait for Goliath. Instead, David attacked his giant. He let his sling loose and, like a guided missile, that stone made its way into the forehead of Goliath, who collapsed face-forward on the ground. Then, using Goliath’s sword, David cut off his head. That is how you deal with giants.

Do you feel as though you are living in a self-imposed wilderness, running around, full of fear and unbelief, wistfully looking back at the good old days? Maybe you are even taking for granted the blessings of God in your life. It comes down to this: Do you have a big God? Or do you have a small God?