059 – Is Your “Why” Bigger than the Lions: Overcoming Obstacles

What is Your Why?

What’s your “why?” What motivates you enough to face the lions in your way? Your “why” motivates you to push through the obstacles? Do you ever get tired of pressing through one obstacle after another? The obstacles are like lions standing between us and our mission. It takes a lot of motivation to push past lions. You must have a “why” big enough to overcome the lions.

Is Your “Why” Bigger than the Lions?

The movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, is a fictionalized account based upon the story of two lions who stalked and killed dozens of workers building a bridge over the Tsavo River  to connect Uganda with the Indiana Ocean. In the movie the lions represented a very real obstacle to building the bridge. Hundreds of workers left the work site threatening the completion of the bridge. Colonel John Patterson, who was charged with building the bridge, had to overcome the lions before he could restore the workers to build the bridge.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5.8-10 ESV)

In the movie, John Patterson’s “why” was his future. If he failed to build this bridge his future as an engineer was over. Patterson was fighting for his future. The worker’s motivation was a much needed paycheck, but the danger outweighed their motivation for a paycheck.

We talk a lot about building bridges, building bridges as we walk on them, and the obstacles we face in the pursuit of our purpose. We get tired of obstacles and battles. We’ve battled lions just to stay alive and now if feels like we must battle lions before we can realize our future.

David Mentioned the book Deep Change by Robert Quinn as the source of the phrase, ‘Building the bridge as you walk on it.

There has to be a reason for facing lions. When the reason is survival we have no choice but to face them. We have two options, walk into the bush and sit down weaponless and wait to be eaten because we just want it to be over, or we face the lions with an intention to overcome them.

What’s your “why?” What motivates you enough to face the lions in your way? What motivates you to push through obstacles? What is the passion that sometimes keeps you awake at night and often monopolies your prayers and your visions?

Fighting Lions When We are Trying to Survive [6:41]

Fighting lions is sometimes only about survival. Sometimes I don’t care about purpose, I just want peace. I just want the lions to stop roaring and threatening. Sometimes we just get tired of fighting and we cannot imagine the purpose behind the struggle. We are just fighting to survive.

Numb is what we feel when we are going through the motions of fighting the lions that just keep coming. Survival mode is when we numb ourselves to fear and mechanically face the obstacles one after another. We don’t have a plan, a purpose, or a path, we are just surviving.

For our friends walking through grief or pain, you have to face the lions. Its going to the cemetery when you know it will be painful, revisiting that place you used to go together, watching the videos or looking at the pictures stirring the memories of what will never be again.  We cannot overcome the lions until we face them.

For our friends in the middle of a battle where all you can see and all you have time for is managing the teeth of the lions trying to rip you apart, what gives you the courage to keep fighting rather than just sitting down and giving up? It’s like you are pulling a rubber band beyond its limits and you feel the flinching anticipation of the sharp sting that will come when it finally breaks.

Sometimes our “why” is living through today because we have a hope, a faith, a confidence that tomorrow we will find our path. It is our commitment to health, hope, and purpose. It is believing that while it is unclear in the moment, the reason for it will become apparent.

Of faith, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The disciple Thomas struggled to believe the resurrected Jesus was indeed Jesus. He had to see the scars before he could believe. Faith is about believing before we see. The “lions” are sentinels keeping us from our destination, our destiny.

So many times I’ve fought lions that were just obstacles to the realization of a promise. If I believe in divine purpose and destiny, then I must also believe in the evil and darkness standing in the way of the good destination.

I’ve come to the place more than once when I was overcome by the lions and I just sat down because I had no more strength. I gave up. It was in those times I felt the same Presence of God that Daniel must have felt in the lions den when the angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions.

“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59.19 NKJV

Fighting Lions When We are Trying to Thrive [14:23]

Sometimes we fight lions because we can do nothing else. We numb ourselves, we look to God for help, and we do what we have to do. Not a lot of courage involved, we are just doing what we have to do. At other times, we know where we are going, we know what we’ve seen, we understand enough of our destiny to be emboldened, yet we have to press through a circle of lions before we can step into our future.

To Overcome a Circle of Lions we must have a “why”

You can stay where you are and live in peace or you can begin an adventure that necessitates pressing through and beyond a circle of lions. In the movie we mentioned earlier, Patterson’s future depended upon building a bridge. He had sacrificed and placed at risk everything to build this bridge to his future. Patterson’s “why” was the future he envisioned.

For the workers it was about their present, and their “why” did not outweigh the danger of the lions. Patterson had to overcome the lions to re-engage the workers in their “why” so he could fulfill his “why.” Patterson’s “why” was important enough to risk everything in overcoming the lions. Patterson could not envision a future without the bridge, and the lions were threatening the bridge.

We have lions, you have lions. Is your “why” motivating enough to cause you to press through the circle of lions?

What is your “why?” What’s the passion that’s so strong in you that sometimes it keeps you awake? What is it you must do? Can you identify the one thing that motivates you strongly enough to pick up the sword and press through the circle of lions that await you.

For Nehemiah it was rebuilding a wall. Jerusalem had been devastated and it would never again be the city of God until the wall was rebuilt. Nehemiah was passionate about rebuilding this wall. He risked his life requesting the king’s help. He inspired, he pushed, he found a way because he was passionate about it. The wall was Nehemiah’s “why.”

In the bible, in the Book of Nehemiah, chapter 4, the nation’s enemies came against the plan to rebuild the wall. Enemies (lions) unified to stop him. The motivation and passion were so strong that Nehemiah appointed men to stand ready with weapons so the wall builders could transition to warriors in an instant. A man with a trumpet stood beside Nehemiah at all times and all of the workers were instructed to rally to the sound of the trumpet ready for battle if ever they heard the trumpet sound. They built the wall with tools in one hand and a sword in the other. They slept in their clothes with their swords. Their passion to build the wall, and more so, their passion to re-establish their nation and their worship to God was so strong they were willing to face the lions.

The lions actually do us a favor. If we are unwilling to face the lions, then that tells us that our “why” is not worthy. Perhaps the lions are there to cause us to work to the ground the nagging question as to whether it is worth it or not.

If you go home when you see the lions’ teeth flash, then your “why” isn’t big enough. Keep looking and praying, you will find a “why” that is big enough.

To Overcome a Circle of Lions we must have a Plan

In the movie, and in the actual account, John Patterson did not charge into the bush with a rifle ready to take revenge. He laid out a plan. He tried a number of things over a period of months. When we recognize a circle of lions separating us from our future, we have to come up with a divine plan.

Change is about crafting new plans to take us down new and necessary paths. Change only comes when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of the change.

Obstacles are real, solutions are divine. Solutions take a lot of work involving prayer, study, development, assessment, etc. Unless our “why” is clear, we will let the lions lie.

Calibration Tools… Calibrating our Lives and Lifting those we Love and Lead [24:07]

  1. Are your “lions” (obstacles) opposing your surviving or your thriving? If your survival, focus on health, hope, and purpose. Can you focus on something that makes it worth it? What is it? Even if it is not connected to your destiny, you need an immediate “why” that gives you a sense of urgency to contend. If your thriving, then define your “why” and let that motivate you.
  2. Define your “why.” What is your “why?” Is your “why” worth it? If not, forget about the circle of lions and look for a motivating “why” that will carry you beyond the obstacles.
  3. What are the “lions” (obstacles) you are facing right now? We believe that a solution exists for every obstacle. Write down the obstacles and pair each of them with a solution. We are deeply spiritual in our approach to life, so we believe God inspires us in the discovery of solutions, so present each obstacle to God and ASK for divine wisdom in matching the obstacle with a solution.

Finally…

John Patterson killed the second of the huge Tsavo Man-Eaters in 1899. Their hides were rugs in his house for the next 25 years. Eventually the worn hides were sold to the Museum of Natural History in Chicago where they were used to fashion replicas of the lions on display to this day. Psalm 47.3 says, “He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet.”

Obstacles and lions will always be a part of our journey.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5.8-10 ESV)

There will be lions, God is big enough to shut their mouths, but is your “why” big enough?

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