Weary. Ragged. Used up. Yet hopeful and resolved. But longing for a break. A break from spiritual warfare. Maybe the break I need is actually the shattering of my own will and my own desires. Maybe the Lord is taking me to places I must go to in order to know Him, to glorify Him and to make Him known. I just want more of Him but I cannot have Him without the battle; without the suffering. Jesus does not call us to a life of ease. On the contrary, we are told we will have sufferings and trials and tribulations.
We are told, by Jesus in Luke 9:23, that the only way to be His disciple, His follower and ambassador is by taking up our cross daily. We are also told in Matthew 11:30 that the yoke of Jesus is easy and His burden is light. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and we are promised peace when our minds are steadfast on God, a peace that is beyond logic and comprehension. Jesus also said he did not come to bring peace, but division. How do these things abide within the written Word without contradiction? The peace promised is for those who have been born again. The division (Luke 12:51) is between believers and nonbelievers...and trust God, there will be a division one day and it will be too late to repent. God's commands are not burdensome and He provides such strength and hope that is beyond any difficult circumstance. As believers truly fighting for God and against Satan, there will be a cross to bear, a dying to one's self and trappings of this world, that seems unbearable. Take heart. He bore the cross for us already. And we should be honored to share in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). We are called to do so (2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10).
Yes, God is love and He loves us and demonstrates His love for us by humbling Himself, taking on the sin of the world and conquering death, all while we are sinners. Sing His praises for His love for us is great and unsearchable. And while He does love us as we are and takes us as we are, which is doomed and bearing absolutely nothing of worth, He does NOT leave us that way. He does not welcome and tolerate the darkness and depravity of our hearts into His Kingdom...only welcoming us covered by the blood that flowed from the flawless Lamb of Calvary. He is light; the Light of the world!! He wants better for us than a life enslaved to sin and darkness which is why he bids us to sin no more. He is willing to give us a new heart. Why?? Because we NEED one. We need correction, discipline, teaching and rebuking. He gives us that through His word, prayer, His Spirit, and also through others. God gives us permission and encouragement to warn our brothers and sisters who are blind to the pit their sin has them in. We are instructed to do this carefully and certainly not pridefully. (We should also be teachable and approachable when someone speaks truth to us in love)
We are told to prepare for battle. Why? Because there is a raging battle, unseen by eyes of flesh, between the light and the darkness. While we know whose ultimate victory (Revelation 17:14) ends all darkness and evil for eternity, we are still in a time of war. The Enemy of our souls and father of lies is able to twist and entice and draw depraved and undisciplined hearts into darkness. He is a master of illusions, touting the darkness as light, fooling us over and over. His goal is to keep our evil hearts from becoming broken and contrite, open to God's forgiveness and grace. And when that doesn't work, Satan wants to hold Christians captive to anything at all that he can get to work, rendering us ineffective in God's Kingdom (2 Peter 1:8). The reality is that if we are not ambassadors FOR God's Kingdom, we are actually on the side of darkness (James 4:4). Even as believers, sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption, there is no neutral ground. We are not simply removed from hell's roll call. We are given new life...one that is to be abundant, pursuing God's glory and making Him known to others. We are called to be in the battle. In the trenches. FOR PEOPLE'S SOULS!
Within the various seasons of life, there will be a myriad of things God will have us walk through. Each day will not look the same. Each prayer will not feel the same. Every praise will not come so easily. But, every day. Every. Single. Day. we are in the battle. Some days the battle will be spent traveling. Some will be spent praying and seeking. Some days will be painful and we will need to take our wounds to the One who will give us healing and instruction. Some battles will exhaust us to our core and sometimes the circumstances we find ourselves in leave us too weary for the battle. THIS is when we rely on God's strength and when we wait upon the Lord. (Isaiah 40) It is also when we allow others to carry burdens and fight alongside of us, not forgetting to do the same for our brethren. The Lord WILL fight for us and sometimes He lets other saints be involved.
There are those too heartbroken to even open Scriptures. There are those too weary to even groan in prayer. There are those too confused, sorting through the unexpected or coming out from under bad teaching and thinking, to trust and believe. There are those that have given themselves a spiritual handicap, holding on to grudges or ignoring sin. Sometimes faith is shaken down to the foundation, the Corner Stone, until the little that is left is all that is needed to rebuild in a better way. We get to stand shoulder to shoulder with saints, fighting for and with them. Speaking words of life, wisdom, compassion and truth.
We do not get to choose what part of the battlefield we are on. We may be on the front lines, in a foxhole, left alone longing for a comrade, or singing praises and speaking truths that lift up those who are downcast. We may find ourselves on defense, preparing for an attack or we may be called to take the battle to the Enemy and walk onto the adversary's turf, occasionally alone. We may be the one weary in praying and needing our arms held by others and we may be the ones who need to hold up the arms of a prayer warrior, providing victory.
Whatever it is, we must be engaged. We are called. The good works we are called to do (which were appointed for us to walk in before the world according to Ephesians 2:10 ) will not be as simple as donating time or money. They will be so much more than that. We are talking about demolishing strongholds here (2 Corinthians 10:4) We are talking about serving a mighty warrior of a God, who not only calls us to live in peace with others as best we can but also to live in opposition of the beastly evil that longs for souls to stay in their condemned darkness or for ineffectiveness in lives of believers.
I know all this. In my core I know it. I believe it and yet need help to overcome my unbelief. And so I recently found myself willing to wave my white flag, vigorously if necessary, to just. make. the battle. stop. Why? It feels overwhelming. It is hard. It feels a little more sacrificial than I want to yield to. Enter the assaults of the Enemy. You name it. Whatever the twister of truth can use to push my buttons. God cannot use me. Did God really call me to do something? Should I really set up boundaries that seem as though they push wandering souls away? Am I really making a difference anyway? Is anyone going to listen? I'm too much of a sinner and hypocrite. Is the darkness really that bad? Isn't this battle talk and believing in the unseen foolish? You will surely mess up and misspeak or let someone down so don't even try. That last sentence assuredly has truth IN it. I will mess up and I will let people down. But that is not a reason and certainly not permission for me to give up.
Pray! Pray in the Spirit. Study how Jesus taught us to pray (Luke 11). Put on the armor (Ephesians 6) . Take up the cross. Do NOT give up. Our obedience and willingness to fight is for God and not for results. Do not put hope in results that we want. The fruition of our ideas and plans does not warrant the hope and faith that only God is most worthy of.
And so I will take thoughts captive unto the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I will keep the faith. I will pray for more faith. I will not lose heart (Luke 18:1). I will pray in the Spirit for strongholds to be broken, for darkness to be revealed for what it is. I will ask saints to speak life into me and we will be a more effective body of Christ, striving together in unity towards knowing God, glorifying Him and making Him known. Timothy Keller says, "Knowing the Lord is communal and cumulative, we must pray and praise together".
Paul exhorts the Ephesians not to lose heart because of his sufferings and then he says
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Read the Word! Ask for God's teaching and understanding. Ask for the eyes of your heart to be opened and enlightened.
[May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.