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In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars

4.3 59
by Mark Batterson

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What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you are hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure…your greatest fear? 


“Mark has become one of the most important voices for a new generation. Anything he touches changes lives. Read this book and


What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you are hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure…your greatest fear? 


“Mark has become one of the most important voices for a new generation. Anything he touches changes lives. Read this book and you’ll see what I mean.”  —CRAIG GROESCHEL, pastor of Life.Church, author of Chazown and Dare to Drop the Pose

“As a leader and teacher, Mark Batterson brings imagination, energy, and insight. I appreciate his willingness to take bold risks and go to extraordinary lengths to reach our culture with a message that is truly relevant.”  —ED YOUNG, senior pastor, Fellowship Church

“Don’t settle for a normal life. Conquer your fears, accept His anointing, jump into that pit, chase the lion, and watch God’s Kingdom come in amazing ways.”  —CHRISTINE CAINE, founder of Propel Women, author of Unashamed

Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn't chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

“A thoughtful and energetic leader, Mark Batterson presses us to consider how we live out our faith in the world around us. When Mark has something to say, I am quick to listen.”
-Frank Wright, PhD, President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters

“Mark Batterson is one of the outstanding younger leaders in the U.S. today. As a pastor, he demonstrates his gifts and character in leadership and preaching. As a writer, he communicates wisdom and hope with both energy and clarity.”
-Brian McLaren, Author and activist

“As a leader and teacher, Mark Batterson brings imagination, energy, and insight. Mark’s genuine warmth and sincerity spill over into his communication, combining an intense love for his community with a passionate desire to see them living the life God dreams for them. I appreciate his willingness to take bold risks and go to extraordinary lengths to reach our culture with a message that is truly relevant.”
-Ed Young, Senior pastor, Fellowship Church 

“Mark Batterson is one of the church’s most forward thinkers. In this book, he compels us to look both behind and ahead to discover answers to the ‘whys’ in our lives. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day helps us make sense of this beautiful mess we call life.”
-Lindy Lowry, Editor, Outreach magazine

“Mark Batterson is down-to-earth and humble—yet constantly pushes me to grow. I follow him as a leader, admire him as an innovator, and love him as a friend. Mark has become one of the most important voices for a new generation. Anything he touches changes lives. Read this book and you’ll see what I mean.”
-Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Lifechurch.tv, author of Chazown and Confessions of a Pastor

“Mark’s passion for God and our generation is contagious. His writing is honest and insightful. Go ahead—chase the lion!”
-Margaret Feinberg, Author of What the Heck Am I Going to Do With My Life?

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.52(d)

Read an Excerpt

Locking Eyes with Your Lion

You are responsible forever for what you have tamed.
—Antoinede Saint-Exubery

There is an obscure passage in Scripture that I doubt any Sunday school teacher has ever assigned as a memory verse. It wasn’t exegeted in any of the systematic theology classes I took in seminary. It has absolutely no bearing on any major biblical doctrines. You may have read it a few times in a one-year Bible, but it probably didn’t even make a blip on your radar screen.

Buried in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, the twenty-third chapter, the twentieth and twenty-first verses,
is one of the most inconceivable and inspirational passages in Scripture:

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. Another time, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.

It’s easy to read verses like this in the comfortable confines of your home or office and totally miss the monumental acts of courage displayed by Benaiah. Have you ever met anyone or heard of anyone chasing a lion? Sure, Barnum & Bailey have lion tamers. But lion chasers? Benaiah didn’t have a hunting rifle or Land Rover. And this was no game-park safari.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion. We don’t know the time of day or Benaiah’s frame of mind. But Scripture does reveal his gut reaction. And it was gutsy. It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture. Usually, when the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: Run away.

Normal people run away from lions. They run as far and as fast as they possibly can. But lion chasers are wired differently.

For the vast majority of us, the only lions we’ve ever encountered were stuffed or caged. And few of us have experienced hand-to-hand combat that forced us to fight for our lives. But try to put yourself in Benaiah’s snow shoes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Benaiah sees something crawling. I don’t know how far away the lion is—and their vision is probably obscured by falling snow and frozen breath—but there is a moment when Benaiah and the lion lock eyes. Pupils dilate. Muscles tense. Adrenaline rushes.

What a Hollywood moment.

Imagine watching it on the movie screen with THX surround sound. Your knuckles turn white as you grip the theater seat. Blood pressure escalates. And the entire audience anticipates what will happen next. Lion encounters tend to script the same way. Man runs away like a scaredy-cat. Lion gives chase. And king of the beasts eats manwich for lunch.

But not this time! Almost as improbable as falling up or the second hand on your watch moving counterclockwise, the lion turns tail and Benaiah gives chase.

The camera films the chase at ground level.

Lions can run up to thirty-five miles per hour and leap thirty feet in a single bound. Benaiah doesn’t stand a chance, but that doesn’t keep him from giving chase. Then the lion makes one critical misstep. The ground gives away beneath his five-hundred-pound frame, and he falls down a steep embankment into a snow-laden pit. For what it’s worth, I’m sure the lion landed on his feet. Lions are part of the cat genus, after all.

No one is eating popcorn at this point. Eyes are fixed on the screen. It’s the moment of truth as Benaiah approaches the pit. Almost like walking on thin ice, Benaiah measures every step. He inches up to the edge and peers into the pit. Menacing yellow eyes stare back. The entire audience is thinking the same thing: Don’t even think about it.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you do something crazy and ask yourself in retrospect: What was I thinking? This had to be one of those moments for Benaiah. Who in their right mind chases lions? But Benaiah now has a moment to collect his thoughts, regain his sanity, and get a grip on reality. And the reality is this: Normal people don’t chase lions.

So Benaiah turns around and walks away. The audience breathes a collective sigh of relief. But Benaiah isn’t walking away. He’s getting a running start. There is an audible gasp from the audience as Benaiah runs at the pit and takes a flying leap of faith.

The camera pans out.

You see two sets of tracks leading up to the pit’s edge. One set of foot prints. One set of paw prints. Benaiah and the lion disappear into the recesses of the pit. The view is obscured to keep it PG-13. And for a few critical moments, the audience is left with just the THX sound track. A deafening roar echoes in the cavernous pit. A bloodcurdling battle cry pierces the soul.

Then dead silence.


Everybody in the theater expects to see a lion shake its mane and strut out of the pit. But after a few agonizing moments of suspense, the shadow of a human form appears as Benaiah climbs out of the pit. The blood from his wounds drips on the freshly fallen snow. Claw marks crisscross his face and spear arm. But Benaiah wins one of the most improbable victories recorded in the pages of Scripture.

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Right at the outset, let me share one of my core convictions: God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ. God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go. But here’s the catch: The right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time.

Can I understate the obvious?

Encountering a lion in the wild is typically a bad thing. A really bad thing! Finding yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day generally qualifies as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. That combination of circumstances usually spells one thing: death. I don't think anyone would have bet on Benaiah winning this fight—probably not even the riskiest of gamblers. He had to be at least a one-hundred-to-one underdog. And the snowy conditions on game day didn’t help his chances.

Scripture doesn’t give us a blow-by-blow description of what happened in that pit. All we know is that when the snow settled, the lion was dead and Benaiah was alive. There was one set of paw prints and two sets of footprints.

Now fast-forward two verses and look at what happens in the next scene.

2 Samuel 23:23 says: “And David put [Benaiah] in charge of his bodyguard.”

I can’t think of too many places I’d rather not be than in a pit with a lion on a snowy day. Can you? Getting stuck in a pit with a lion on a snowy day isn’t on anybody’s wish list. It’s a death wish. But you’ve got to admit something: “I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day” looks pretty impressive on your résumé if you’re applying for a bodyguard position with the King of Israel!

You know what I’m saying?

I can picture David flipping through a stack of résumés. “I majored in security at the University of Jerusalem.” Nope. “I did an internship with the Palace Guard.” Nada. “I worked for Brinks Armored Chariots.” Thanks but no thanks.

Then David comes to the next résumé in the stack. “I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.” David didn’t even check his references. That is the kind of person you want in charge of your bodyguard. Lion chasers make great bouncers.

Now zoom out and look at the story through a wide-angled lens. Most people would have seen the lion as a five-hundred-pound problem, but not Benaiah. For most people, finding yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day would qualify as bad luck. But can you see how God turned what could have been considered a bad break into a big break? Benaiah lands a job interview with the King of Israel.

I’m sure the bodyguard position was the last thing on his mind when he encountered the lion, but Benaiah wasn’t just chasing a lion. Benaiah was chasing a position in David’s administration.

Here’s the point: God is in the résumé-building business. He is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities. But those God-given opportunities often come disguised as maneating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny. We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges. Or we can chase our God-ordained destiny by seizing the God-ordained opportunity.

As I look back on my own life, I recognize this simple truth: The greatest opportunities were the scariest lions. Part of me has wanted to play it safe, but I’ve learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all.

Giving up a full-ride scholarship at the University of Chicago to transfer to a small Bible college was a huge risk. Asking my wife, Lora, to marry me was a huge risk. (Of course, not as big a risk as Lora saying yes!) Packing all of our earthly belongings into a fifteen-foot U-haul and moving to Washington DC with no place to live and no guaranteed salary was a huge risk. Each of our three children was a huge risk. Jumping into a church plant with zero pastoral experience was a huge risk, both for me and for the church.

But when I look in the rearview mirror, I realize that the biggest risks were the greatest opportunities. Some of those life-altering decisions caused sleepless nights. The steps of faith were accompanied by acute fear that caused nausea. We experienced some financial hardships that required miraculous provision. And we had to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off after falling flat on our faces a few times.

But those were the moments that I came alive. Those were the moments when God set the stage. Those were the moments that changed the trajectory of my life.

Meet the Author

Mark Batterson is the New York Times best-selling author of a dozen books, including The Circle Maker and Wild Goose Chase. He is the lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC), one of the most innovative and influential churches in America. One church with eight campuses, NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, the Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University. He and his wife, Lora, have three children, and love living on Capitol Hill.

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In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Batterson puts life's challenges in perspective. He encourages self exploration through trust in God and ACTION on His principles. 'In A Pit With A Lion' is a summary of several self-help books, both Christian and secular. He incorporates the principles of Peale's 'Positive Thinking', Robbins' 'Awaken the Giant' and 'Unlimited Power', and King David's heart and spirit. A must read for one who needs the Spirit to blow out the spiritual dust of years of a broken mind or troubled heart. It has been a while since an author put me to tears. Batterson achieved it.
mr_jones23 More than 1 year ago
Mark Batterson's In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day owes its title and central argument to Benaiah, an often overlooked person, mentioned in 2 Samuel. Benaiah, eschewing the normal response when coming face-to-face with a predator in the wild, chases a lion into a snowy pit and kills it. Eventually Benaiah would rise from lion chaser to David's bodyguard all the way to commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel. All because he was the kind of person who looked on adversities as opportunities Batterson postulates that God is calling us all to be lion chasers as well. For us to embrace our lion chasing skills, Batterson explores seven required skills: Overcoming adversity Unlearning fears Embracing uncertainty Calculating risks Seizing opportunities Defying Odds Looking foolish He mentions, several times, the importance of stepping out in faith. “Most of us want absolute certainty before we step out in faith. We love 100-percent money-back guarantees. But the problem with that is this: It takes faith out of the equation. There is no such thing as risk-free faith. And you can't experience success without risking failure.” I know I am guilty of second guessing myself and wanting to be 100% sure when I make a decision. It almost never comes to 100% certainty and I know I have missed out on a number of opportunities because I was unwilling to make the final leap of faith. This book challenges you to do just that, and does so in a very accessible and enthusiastic way. Lion chasers “recognize that the best you can do if you run away from a lion is break even. You might save your skin, but you won't have a lion skin hanging on your wall either.” What an outstanding read! FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
LUStudent More than 1 year ago
The title of the book caught my attention right away. It is inspiring as well as thought provoking. A lot of churches and pastors these days shy away from the Old Testament. I am so thankful that Mark Batterson chose to embrace this man's story and expound on how to apply it to our lives today.
J_Alfred_Prufrock More than 1 year ago
Mark Batterson does an excellent job of being inspirational without being a cheerleader. This book is a perfect mixture of sound theological thought, biblical basis mixed with "ordinary" people that aspire to great things. I find his humor refreshing and necessary. Necessary because some of his insight is so deep it literally made my brain hurt. In a Pit focuses on a seldom used passage concerning one of David's might men named Benaiah and his chasing of a lion into a pit on a snowy day. One creature survives the tussle, of course being one Benaiah. While the thought of David's mighty men has been over played in conferences and by many a church leader, Batterson's treatment is refreshing. If you enjoy deep thinking written on an easy to digest level, this book is certainly for you. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions are my own.
Ericka Hidalgo More than 1 year ago
Awesome read! Encourages you to not only push beyond your limits but to pursue what appears to be unattainable. More specific-God size dreams/goals. Always aware that when you do, you set the stage for a miracle. For what is impossible with man is possible with God!
Teadrinker More than 1 year ago
In a Pit with Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson is celebrating 10 years from it's original publication date. This newly released copy has some added bonus material along with the original book material. I have read several of Mark Batterson's books and found them to be just what I needed at the time. I didn't read this book the first time around for some unknown reason except that it is just what I needed to read now. As Batterson says of another reader,"God is never early, and He is never late! He's always right on time, His time!" What lion is God calling you to chase? This book shares 7 different skills you will need if you want to be a lion chaser, that is if you want to be someone who boldly goes after what God is calling you to do even if it sounds like too big of a dream to chase. Batterson starts out the book by offering Biblical advice centered around the story of Benaiah chasing a lion in 2 Samuel 23:24-25. Throughout the rest of In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, Batterson shares Biblical wisdom, stories from his life and stories from the lives of other Christians to encourage readers to not let their fears get in the way and to follow dreams and paths that God has designed for them. I found In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day to be an interesting and easy book to read. I am not sure it will be so easy to catch my own lion in a pit, but I do know that I feel inspired to ask God what it is that He wants me to do next and to spend time close to Him listening for the answer. I would encourage you to read this book, if you haven't already, and do the same. While I have read the Bible through more than once, this story didn't really stick with me until reading Batterson's book. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got a lot out of this book. I really enjoyed it, but beware - I tried to do this book as a chapter a day. The chapter are really long and have a lot of information crammed into them. A lot of the material gets really repetitive. I'm not sure if that is what Mark intended, but it does drag the book on a bit.
reniegenie More than 1 year ago
Inspirational and motivational, with a good kick-in-the-pants! Mark Batterson hits the nail on the head with this book - Christianity isn't about passive prayers on survival; it's about going after God's will and purpose for your life. Such a great reminder of God's power and our call to co-labor with Him. Easy and enjoyable read - I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sighs and pads away to Forestclan at running river res 2-3.
Shari4 More than 1 year ago
An excellent book about how to get the most out of life - how to really ignite your soul and live a spiritual life.
JFHoyer More than 1 year ago
In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day – Mark Batterson     It took me a long time to make it through this book – not because it wasn’t interesting – but because it was challenging and invited me to take risks and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that.  Using the obscure story of King David’s friend Benaiah, who chased down and killed a lion in a pit, Batterson asks you to consider “What lion is God calling you to chase?”  This is not a book for those who want to stay in a comfortable bubble.  It is a book for those who want to be motivated to take risks for God and to answer his call.      “Points to Remember” at the end of each chapter, would make this well adaptable to a small group study for those who want to be challenged beyond the tamer stuff we typically use.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a game changer type of book if you let it.
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Michael_Wilson70 More than 1 year ago
In this book, Mark Batterson does a great job of challenging the reader to believe that God can do great things through "ordinary people". He takes a very obscure passage of scripture, one that most people would simply overlook, and makes a great case for the amazing things that God can do for someone who would be willing to believe. In this book, Mark gives us seven things that "lion-chasers" need to do: * Overcome adversity * Unlearn fears * Embrace uncertainty * Calculate risks * Seize opportunities * Defy the odds * Look foolish This book will challenge your faith and give you courage to face the things that come your way. An opportunity is always in front of you if you will just learn to see it and embrace it. Using stories from his own journey and the journey of others, Mark gives great examples of how to chase lions and be an overcomer. I had seen this book recommended for a couple of years now and I had been wanting to read it. I am so glad that I did. As a pastor, it is something that every church member should read. As one that is often times afraid to take risks this book gave me courage to go after the lions in my life. Mark encourages the reader to look for opportunities before us that could advance us in our lives. You never know when by chasing a lion into a pit on a snowy day your whole life will change. So, read this book and go chase a lion. This book is a very easy read. I had a hard time putting it down. I got a lot of great quotes and illustrations from this book. It's one of those books that will need to be reread when one needs a good faith-lift. Disclosure: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group sent me this book for free for this review - the views expressed are my own.
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Danny_G More than 1 year ago
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson *The following review is my own and not that of any other. I received a complimentary copy for this review* This was a fabulous read as I started it on Friday night and finished it Saturday morning. Not only was I anxious to keep reading but the content was well written. The premise of the book is what does a person do when faced with an opportunity: fight or flee? Does he/she face the lion in a pit or does he/she run? Mr. Batterson challenges the reader to fight the lion, whatever the "lion" may be. Why look back over your life with regret because of lost opportunity? Instead, accept that God has placed circumstances in your life to strengthen, instruct, mold, and challenge you. Fight your lions and see what miracles God can do through you. That is the intent of this book and it was presented well. I highly recommend this book for those that need encouragement to continue in a difficult time and for those that are fearful of unforeseen outcomes. A very good read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson is a book about chasing after your God-given dreams. While I think there were a few good things said, I didn't feel like this book really said a whole lot that helped me. I feel like the book focused too much on us and not enough on God. It's one of those books that takes people from the Bible and tries to make them modern. The whole tone is very casual, and I think Batterson is also trying to amuse you as well as teach you. The book does indeed have some sentences that can make you think. It talks about fear, and it talks about taking a step of faith. Batterson often uses stories from the Bible to make points or get you thinking, but he doesn't include many Bible verses or passages. In short, I believe there are a few good points here and there, but a good amount of the book is fluff. And it didn't help me a whole lot in my walk with God. I received my copy of this book free from Blogging for Books.
MatthewJM More than 1 year ago
Mark Batterson writes about taking on the opportunities that come about in life like Benaiah faced and killed a lion in 2 Samuel 23:20. Mark stresses the need to live a Spirit-led life of risk and uncertainty rather than playing it safe and missing God-ordained opportunities. In short, be a lion-chaser in seeing opportunities, taking risks, and trusting God. This book was a great inspiration and challenging for my walk in taking opportunities "by the horns" in my walk of faith. The one frustration and criticism I have is that I felt like Mark added details to the story of Benaiah. There were many things that Mark talked about concerning Benaiah's interaction with this lion, but cannot be seen in the Scripture reference. Other than these occasional imaginations, I thought it was a good read. I would recommend it to a friend, especially if they are struggling with purpose in life or their work. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review