A few weekends ago Herb and I attended a marriage conference. It was amazing, truly, and sometime perhaps I will write more about it. But specifically I want to talk about the very last morning. The conference leaders asked us to turn to our spouse and answer one question: what battle are you fighting right now? Then they asked us to pray for one another.
This seems like a simple enough question, but it has proven the most powerful question in my life this month. As I sat across from Herb and shared with him my particular battle, I began to cry. I had not named this struggle out loud. I had not identified the war in my soul as of late. And the moment I spoke it aloud, light shone on that dark place in my soul. The battle didn't seem so powerful, the reality of it not quite as real. Now Herb knew my battle, he knew my struggle; He invited Jesus into the battle with us through prayer, and I was able to begin to speak truth to myself in a way hadn't been able to before.
There was a power in acknowledging that we are indeed fighting a battle. It is so easy to forget that this world is against us. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against
evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers
in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) So often in scripture we are reminded of the battle; there are constant references to the enemy who comes to prowl and steal. I love the passage in 1 Peter that reminds us that the Enemy is prowling lion looking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We are called by Paul to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6). Why would we need armor for everyday life? It seems like overkill to walk about in full suits of uncomfortable metal just to cook and clean and go about our daily lives. But the truth is we are in a war, especially in the everyday.
In the everyday quiet, we are under attack to hear the truth about who we are and who we belong to. In the everyday relationships, we are fiercely fighting our selfishness in a need to humble ourselves before one another. In the everyday toil, we are fighting the sense of purposelessness, in desperate need of reminding that God has prepared good works for us ahead of time. It is in the everyday that we doubt most the Hope which God has called us to; we feel entrenched in the broken, aching world, and we wonder if there will ever be a reprieve.
This is why it was so important to name our battles to one another. We need people to remind us to put on our armor. We need others to speak the ever-present truth of scripture over our doubts. We need the encouragement that we do not stand alone in this battle ground. God gave us a community to fight along with us, but how can they fight unless they know?
Therein lies the beauty of the question: What battle are you fighting right now? It was a remarkable moment at our Bible study the week after the conference as we confessed our battles to one another. We found that: one, many of us were fighting such similar battles. What a precious thing to know that our battles weren't unique to us, but instead know we were not alone! And two, in naming our battles we were able to knowingly and intentionally pray for one another and lift one another up. Countless times in the weeks since this meeting, I have had intimate times of prayer for my friends and felt the Lord leading me to send specific passages of scripture to these friends to encourage their hearts. What a gift to know exactly what truth a friend needs to hear! And likewise, what a gift to receive a word of truth from a friend that speaks right into the darkest places of my heart!
Speaking my battle aloud has been a powerful turning point for me. The speakers at the conference gave us a little army man to place in our home, to remind us that we are fighting these battles, and to remind us to pray for one another in these battles. I've daily been aware that I need to protect my heart, that I need to speak truth to myself when I begin to hear my mind utter things that the Bible declares untrue. It has brought to mind that roaring lion seeking to devour me and made my heart resolute to not allow him to attack. And so the battle ground has been on the forefront of my mind, and thus my heart was ripe to hear this truth yesterday.
As we stood in church singing, we sang the words "The Lord is fighting our battles," and my heart stopped in its tracks. I've been so keenly aware that I am not fighting these battles alone, that God gave me a spouse and a community to fight alongside of me. But in worship yesterday God gave me an even more resounding truth. GOD is fighting for me! GOD is fighting with me! And the scriptures came flooding back to me:
The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14
You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will
go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. Isaiah 52:12
Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the
king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the
one with us is greater than the one with him. 2 Chronicles 32:7
Once again, how could I forget? How could I forget who ultimately is fighting for me? I had been reminding myself that Jesus has the ultimate victory. I had been reminding myself that God has won the battle. But I had forgotten that He is fighting for me right now! He is standing on the front line. He isn't shying away from the throng. No battle astonishes Him. No attack strategy catches Him off-guard. He has the perfect defenses and is never at a loss for what to do next. This is the captain of my army! He is the one in charge of my infantry! I know no greater comfort than this!
Oh Father, thank you for
knowing how much your people need one another and need You! Thank You
for never leaving us alone in the fierce battles! Thank You for your
armor, Your people, and Your presence in the unceasing attacks. You are
such a good God! Amen.
So I ask you, friend, what battle are you fighting right now? Would you please go speak your battle aloud to a friend who will lovingly listen, who will pray for you, who will encourage you, who will fight with you? Shine a light into that dark place in your heart. Do not allow the enemy to prowl there any longer. God has called us into battle together; don't fight alone any longer!
A Year In Review
9 months ago