In 1977 I heard my first sermon by John Garlock, the greatest communicator I’ve had the privilege of listening to. John, now in heaven, was one of my professors at Christ For the Nations Institute. The message was on the subject of tenacity and had 3 points, which I remember to this day, 46 years later. John was that good. Today’s post is taken from that message.
Tenacity, of course, is the quality of persevering, refusing to quit, and holding fast - like a bulldog on a bone. I found the following synonyms in my good ole phone dictionary: courage, determination, grit, heart, resoluteness, and resolve. On the less formal, slang side of the synonym list, I found gutsiness, intestinal fortitude, stick-to-itiveness, and true grit. Pick your word or phrase, but tenacity is the determination to hang in there when the hangin’ ain’t easy. (Brother Garlock, as we called him in the day, would probably cringe at my choice of words!)
This great wordsmith illustrated tenacity, and the lack thereof, with the following poem:
“Two frogs fell into a can of cream, or so it has been told.
The sides of the can were shiny and steep; the cream was deep and cold.
‘Oh, what’s the use?’ said number one. ‘It’s plain no help’s around.
Goodbye, my friend, goodbye, sad world.’ And weeping still, he drowned.
“But number two, of sterner stuff, dog paddled in surprise,
The while he licked his creamy lips and blinked his creamy eyes.
‘I’ll swim at least a while,’ he thought. Not once, he stopped to mutter.
Then hopped out from the island he had made of freshly churned butter.”
Point # 1
Professor Garlock took his text that day from 2 Samuel 23:8-12, a passage about David’s Mighty Men. The first warrior mentioned is Adino the Eznite, “Who killed 800 men at one time” (verse 8). Garlock said Adino pictured “Tenacity in the face of impossible odds.”
This feat is difficult to imagine, killing 800 enemy soldiers in one battle. We are not told how Adino did it, but obviously, Yahweh made up for that which his tenacious nature couldn’t supply. He does that. Perhaps Adino backed himself against a large rock or wall, where only one or two enemies at a time could get to him, and fought them with his spear. He killed one, then a dozen…twenty…fifty…and still they came. But this warrior was tenacious and fought on. But come on - 800?
Not if God is on your side, and you refuse to give up. The odds against us become irrelevant when Yahweh fights for us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Gideon defeated 135,000 Midianites (Judges 8:10) with 300 warriors (Judges 7:6). He was facing 400 to 1 odds, but heaven fought for him. If you have the tenacity to stand for truth, even in the face of overwhelming odds, God will show up and fight for you.
Point # 2
Then there was Eleazar, son of Dodo the Ahohite. “He rose up and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and it clung to the sword, and the Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder the dead” (Verse 10). Eleazar pictured “Tenacity in the face of overwhelming fatigue,” said Garlock.
True warriors sometimes have to dig a little deeper. One of the synonyms above was “heart,” and Eleazar had this second heart, located in his soul. When he could no longer hold his sword with physical strength, he held on with his heart! When the battle ended, they had to peel Eleazar’s fingers off the sword.
Sustained prayer requires this level of “stick-to-itiveness.” Warriors of intercession only quit when they’ve won. George Müller was a tenacious prayer warrior. One example of his persistence is related by Dick Eastman in his book, No Easy Road. He quotes Müller as saying:
“‘The great point is never to give up until the answer comes. I have been praying for sixty-three years and eight months for one man’s conversion. He is not saved yet, but he will be. How can it be otherwise . . . I am praying.’”(1)
Eastman continues, “The day came when Müller’s friend received Christ. It did not come until Müller’s casket was lowered into the ground. There, near an open grave, this friend gave his heart to God. Prayers of perseverance had won another battle. Müller’s success may be summarized in four powerful words: He did not quit.”(2)
Success in life, and certainly in faith and intercession, requires this intangible quality of tenacity. Without it, you cannot win; but with it, you cannot lose.
Last but not least in Garlock’s message was Shammah. He risked his life for a plot of peas. “Now after him was Shammah, the son of Agee, a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into an army where there was a plot of land full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it, and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory” (Verses 11-12).
Professor Garlock called this “Tenacity in the face of a humble assignment.” One can almost envision the assignments being handed out for the battle that day. “Tom, you guard our leader, David. Protect him with your life! Joe, you protect the women and children. Their lives depend on you, your skill, and bravery.”
Shammah waits anxiously for his noble assignment. What will he risk his life to save? The ark of the covenant? David’s abode? Perhaps all of the livestock? Then it comes: “Shammah! Protect that pea patch over there!”
“Huh? You gotta be kidding!” would have been the response of many warriors. But not Shammah.
“Yes, sir! Only over my dead body will anyone get to the peas!”
God loved it so much He put it in His book! Three thousand years later, we are still reading about Shammah. And I suspect he has a prominent place in heaven, though he obviously won’t care where he is positioned. Tenacity in the face of a humble assignment!
We live in a world filled with people looking for success, fame, fortune, prestige, advancement, power, and glory; they are a dime a dozen, trying to make a name for themselves. Servants, not so much. But you WILL find many of them in the prayer movement. They are fine with closets, back rooms, small groups, lonely trails, and back roads. Nameless and faceless, you’ll recognize these praying servants by their broken hearts, calloused knees, red eyes, and perhaps sword imprints on their hands - not by their faces or names.
Heaven knows them well, however, as does hell. Counterparts of David’s Mighty Men, are Christ’s Mighty Women and Men, tenacious warriors and freedom fighters…in the face of impossible odds, overwhelming fatigue, and humble assignments.
Next time you see one, thank them for their service.
Pray with me:
Father, I thank You once again for the Ekklesia company of intercessors here in America and around the world. Those who know how to partner with You to accomplish Your Kingdom projects and enterprises. You have trained them well, and they are ready for such a time as this. They are the Simeon’s, Anna’s, Epaphras’s, and Cornelius’s of our day.
We pray, now, that You keep them strong and tenacious, full of faith and endurance. May they not grow weary in their doing of good, but become stronger and stronger, just as You describe in Isaiah 40:30-31. Teach them to ride the wind; remind them to wait upon You, drawing Your very strength into their souls and bodies, just as their spirits are renewed every day. Give them great focus and laser accuracy. May each one grow to the same level Paul walked in when he said, regarding the persecution he experienced, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24).
And, Father, we continue to make our declarations and decrees over America:
America shall be saved.
America’s covenant of trumpeting the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth is alive and well.
America shall be divinely reset.
The Kingdom of God in America will survive any shaking.
The evil forces, systems, agencies, and leaders in our government will be dealt with by God Himself, who rules over the nations.
Righteousness will return to our White House, Capitol, Supreme Court, and the agencies they control.
The fear of the Lord will return to our land.
Justice will be restored.
Corrupt prosecutors will be exposed and removed.
The innocent will be vindicated.
Racism will be removed from our land, as will the people and organizations who foment it.
Revival will come to the children and youth of America. They will be saved from the evil trying to destroy them.
Revival will come to all ethnicities and age groups.
Revival will erupt in the nations of the earth.
The strength of all past revivals will be combined and released into the earth, destroying millennia-old strongholds, and saving 1 billion souls. This will not be stopped.
We ask for and decree all of these things in the name of Jesus, the Almighty God, whom America has declared herself under. Amen.
We declare that we, the Ekklesia of Christ, have tenacious hearts infused with God’s strength. We never quit, and will not waver.
Our dear friend Ruthanne Garlock, John Garlock’s lovely wife, is a prolific author. You can find more information about Ruthanne as well as books by both of them, at GarlockMinistries.org. One of Ceci’s all-time favorite books is there, entitled Before We Kill and Eat You. It’s the story of John’s father, a fearless missionary, who served God in dark Liberia, where facing death by cannibals left no possible retreat. The only protection was his faith in God.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Dick Eastman, No Easy Road (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971), pp. 96-97.
Ibid. pp. 97-98.