I woke in the night to the deep reverberations of distant gunfire and bombing—felt like I was in a war zone. Once I’d righted the situation by getting up and asking our night owl to turn the bass speaker down, it occurred to me, I am living in a war zone. Our struggle may not be against flesh and blood or other seen realities. It is nonetheless real – principalities and powers vie for the lifeblood of our own young adults. We are the sentry on the hill signaling heaven for aid, believing for reinforcements, holding up our arms…
With the gray light of a rainy morning I opened an old hymnbook to this militant gem:
Sound the battle cry! See the foe is nigh;
Raise the standard high For the Lord;
Gird your armor on, Stand firm, everyone;
Rest your cause upon His holy Word.
So I rise to gird on my armor this particular morning in the face of situations I have no solutions for, problems I feel powerless to solve… Life is like that often as a parent. Did I miss Basic Training Camp or something or is this on-the–job training? Every year the job description changes anyway so the training manual had better be comprehensive. And so it is. I’ve been chewing on II Peter 1 lately—we have everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us. Hmm. That should be enough! And through His great and precious promises we are invited to share His very nature. wow.
So where did this heap of guilt, condemnation for a job poorly done, and a sense of helpless inadequacy come from? Why am I feeling accused of being a failure? (Now there’s a red flag! ‘…the accuser of the brethren’?) Where does all this tend to push me? toward anger? resentment? against whom? I woke this morning with a familiar chorus singing through my heart: “You’re the Defender of the weak; You comfort those in need. You lift us up on wings like eagles…Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord…”
[If you have not yet been introduced to Chris Tomlin’s music, do check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhMdWjL2kiU]
The not-so-funny thing is, God sometimes seems to be part of the problem. He’s not rescuing me from my troubles, not giving me answers quickly enough, not quelling my rising panic with an instant and tidy “here’s how” blueprint. In short, He doesn’t seem to be in a rush to fix my problems. So between my stealthily rising resentment and a descending sense of condemnation I can tend to separate myself from my very source of strength right when I need Him most. But then His Spirit faithfully comes and whispers songs in my ear and points me to truth. Wow. Yes, better get about putting on that armor!
…the belt of truth—what is it I’m believing right now, about my troubles, about my God, about myself? Is it true? Confessing to do? Do it? Truth to hang on to? Grab hold!
…the breastplate of righteousness—shields me from the necessity of being ‘good enough’ for the job. It’s not about me. My hero is the Perfect One and when God looks my way, He sees Jesus, my Redeemer.
…shoes on? I can walk in peace with God. He’s not holding me at arm’s length hoping I’ll get my act together one of these days. There’s been a truce. We’re friends forever. And that’s my story to spread!
…the shield of faith—No propaganda of the enemy can pierce it. Taking God at His word by faith protects me from feelings that lie and every taunting accusation. This I will believe: God is for me and He is always GOOD!
…the Spirit’s sword, God’s word. Pick it up. Wield it well. Use it to slaughter the foe. That’s my provision for the war at hand.
…and last but not least my greatest weapon—prayer—alert, persevering prayer all the time for every situation.
I guess that’s why I’m sitting here this morning—listening for what to pray, waiting for strength to rise, ready to pick up my sword again and do battle…
O Thou God of all, Hear us when we call,
Help us one and all, By Thy grace;
When the battle’s done, And the victory’s won,
May we wear the crown Before Thy face.
Rouse, then, soldiers, rally round the banner, Ready, steady, pass the word along;
Onward, forward, shout aloud Hosanna! Christ is Captain of the mighty throng.
–William F. Sherwin (1826-1888)
You’ll have to pardon the bold print. I got a little excited there as I could hear the strains of singing with the organ swelling in the background, from my childhood…
May God give you songs in the night and His Spirit’s ever-faithful nudges to keep on keeping on with your head held high and your hands to heaven.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” (Ps.18:2,3 NIV)
P.S. What songs do you hear lately? Would love it if you left a note.