On all fronts

It seems to me like I’m under enemy fire on all fronts, wherever I go, and just about whatever I do.  Feelings like rage, discouragement, frustration, helplessness, spite, and a slough of other highly-skilled terrorists work 24/7 to knock me down, keep me from serving God, drag me into sin.

Satan knows what he is doing.  He has thousands of years experience convincing people to sin.  And if one sin doesn’t work, well, he’ll just try another.  And another.  And another.  With every temptation I resist, a sneakier or harder-to-resist one sometimes crops up in its place.

I hate dragging myself off the battlefield at night, wounded from enemy fire and sometimes even realizing I was duped into fighting most of the day for the wrong side.  I hate knowing that I’ve lost more ground than I’ve gained, that my warfare strategies have been crumpled in a ball and thrown in the trashcan.

It makes me think I’m not doing spiritual warfare very well.  I belong in God’s army now, but do I know how to fight?  Do I know how to defend myself?  Do I know how to attack?  Or am I just wandering around aimlessly waiting until a surprise attack blows me to smithereens?  Am I so clueless on the weapons of God that I can’t even engage in battle against darkness?  Am I so hopelessly cowardly that I’m hiding behind any bush I can find, thinking someone else will surely step up to battle for me?

My favorite character in Pilgrim’s Progress other than the main character, Christian, is a man named Fearless.  When everyone else shirks in fear at the thought of following God by fighting their way through Satan’s demons, Fearless steps up to take his turn.  He raises his sword and does not lower it until he has sent the last demon standing in his way to the ground.

Christian learns from what he sees in Fearless.  When he has to fight his own nightmare, Apolyon, he knows the danger.  He could be slain in a heartbeat, but he’s afraid of much worse.  He fears his soul is in jeopardy, and the odds are impossible: a mortal man facing a monstrous, winged demon?  Apolyon invites him to give up, to simply go back to living like someone destined for Hell.  Apolyon promises he’ll be satisfied at that, that there will be no war, no bloodshed, no terror.

But Christian has seen Fearless fight, and Christian raises his sword for a fight worth more than his life.

.  . . that’s one thing for a character in a made up story, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing for me–right?

Who says the story is made up?

God has been making it very clear lately that I’m not ready for war.

My faith is in Jesus Christ.  My heart is after His will for my life.  I see God changing me in ways I could never change myself.  God has taken burdens away from me that I could never have dreamed could have been lifted.

But, at no one’s fault but my own, I still have some rutted habits that aren’t dying.  I still have some patterns of behavior that aren’t changing.  And I still have a whole lot of situations where I’m unsure what to do, half-hearted, overwhelmed, confused, or just wasteful of the opportunities God has given to me.

God, in His incredible grace, has adopted me as His child.  He has enlisted me in His army.  He has held out His war plan to me.

But what I’m seeing in my life is that, if God doesn’t blatantly reveal or give something to me, I’m nowhere and nothing close to ready for battle.  I seem to forget that I even have armor, and I’m unsure how to wield the sword I’ve been given.  My shield seems to be expecting direct intervention from God all the time, and He has been so good to give that to me so many times . . . but I feel Him calling me to responsibility.  I have never even liked that word, but I feel myself longing to be equipped, to be ready, to do more than cry “Help!” every time an enemy arrow flies my way.

I’m tired of losing.  I’m tired of giving up.  I’m tired of getting messed up and fighting for the wrong side.  I want to be like Fearless.  I am a Christian, and I have to fight Apolyon too.

I don’t want to keep asking God to get me out of traps and forgive me for firing at the wrong side and fight my battles without me.  I am ready to ask God to fight through me.  I am ready to charge for the enemy.  I am ready to receive victory by Jesus Christ through my most difficult battles.

I’m ready to live an Ephesians 6:10-17 life.

The war is on.

Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit.  Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18, CEV)

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.