Summary: If we would just learn to wait upon the Lord by serving Him, trusting Him and living for Him, we would have so many fainting Christians.
By Pastor Jim May
In the hills of Tennessee there is a breed of goats that is called the “Fainting Goat”. They are also known as “Nervous Goats”, “Stiff-leg goats”, “Wooden-leg goats”, and “Tennessee Scare goats”. No one knows for certain where they originated from but the first goats of this type were owned by a man who was thought to have come from Nova Scotia.
It seems that they have developed a genetic disorder known as Myotonia that causes them to freeze up and faint very easily. The condition isn’t harmful to them and only lasts a few seconds and then they are able to get up and go on. Anything can make them faint. They even faint when they get excited about being fed.
I have seen some videos on the Internet of these goats in action and it’s hilarious to watch them. One owner just walked up into the middle of six or seven of them and suddenly waved his arms over them. Every one of the goats just fainted dead on the spot and fell over on the ground with their legs stiffed out. In another sequence the farmer was trying to herd the goats into a pen. Most of them were all together and moving slowly but one was separated from the rest. As the separated goat began to run to join the herd, his legs became still as a board and he fell head over heels while he was running.
As I watched those goats I began to think of a message that I had heard several years ago and I thought about how those “fainting goats” reminded me of how a lot of people are, especially those in the church.
One of the first recorded “fainting goats” in scripture can be found in Genesis chapter 25.
Genesis 25:29-33, "And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob."
There was Esau, the hard working farmer. There is no doubt that Esau was one hard-working man who loved his family and was very responsible.
How many of you have ever tried your hand at farming, or perhaps at just raising a garden? Let me tell you that it’s hard work. When you think about farming in the days before tractors and steel plows and all the machinery and tools at our disposal now, it’s hard to imagine just how tough it must have been to be a farmer in ancient times.
Who can blame Esau for being “faint” when he came in from a hard day in the fields? It was only natural for him to be famished and thirsty. He was learning what God meant when He told Adam that mankind would earn his living by the sweat of his brow.
The point is that too many people are like Esau in that when they are at their weakest and they have a great need, or when they are suffering, instead of waiting upon the Lord in prayer, they just faint away and fall out!
I have tried on a number of occasions to reach out to these “fainting Christians” who have fallen out of the church. They were running well! They were doing their best to serve the Lord but then they became weary. They were overcome with spiritual weakness and they just keeled over and fainted.
You just can’t do anything for them for a while. They have a sort of “spiritual myotonia” that gives them a stiff neck. The condition blinds them from the devil is doing for a little while, causes them to have a deaf ear to anything that the Lord is trying to say to them, and makes them hard to reach. For a time they are frozen in their tracks as though they just can’t seem to make up their minds whether to get back into serving the Lord or not.
Thank the Lord, most of the time, that stiff-necked condition only lasts for a little while and they are soon back in church worshipping God. But there are many instances where they continue on in that stiff-necked condition and never turn back.
I think it would be good right here to stop and remember what Isaiah said in Isaiah 40:28-31, "Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."