“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power…And after you’ve done everything; to stand.”
– Ephesians 6:1,13
Life is filled with challenges, disappointments, frustrations and heartaches – that’s life. Being a Christian doesn’t shelter you from the storm; it simply means you’re not alone in the midst of the swirling rain. We all have our own ‘storms’ to face that take on various forms – relationships, finances, health… the enemy picks his battle strikes well and knows how to stir up those clouds to look terrifying, often when we are at our weakest and most run-down. What struck me the other day is that I don’t know anywhere in the Bible where it tells us to be heroes and run out into the storm and take on the battle in our own strength (please feel free to correct my poor theology on this matter!). But what the Bible does repeatedly tell us is to ‘take courage and be strong’ (Joshua 1) and simply to ‘stand’ (Ephesians 6) – and watch the Lord bring Deliverance. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle with that. I’m the kind of person who wants to be actively involved; who wants to solve problems and overcome challenges by ‘doing stuff’. It’s a tiring place to find yourself when your effort is so pathetic in the face of the storm.
And so I decided to take a different strategy. I wanted to over-think the storm – really get to the heart of the matter, understand it and solve it through over-analysis. There’s a reason the Bible tells us to renew our minds constantly (Romans 12); trying to overcome storms through thinking wears your mind (and body and spirit and soul) out. Again, not a great place to be. But at least what I did manage to figure out through this strategy is that the Storm-Battle hasn’t changed much over the years, well, not in my case anyway. It’s the same battle in essence and the enemy is just finding different situations and methods to pick at the same weak areas in our lives.
Mine is identity (if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, this really shouldn’t surprise you!). It seems so simple and I suppose it really is: when the storm clouds gather in my life, it inevitably challenges me on the level of self-worth and image/ identity. Suddenly I don’t feel quite so confident in who I am or how I look. Having battled with an eating disorder for most of my high school and varsity years, my relationship with food and image is the first telltale sign that there’re clouds hovering above my head that need to be blown away by the Holy Spirit Wind (Acts 2) and allow the warmth of the Son’s love to refill my ‘air-space’…
But you know what’s incredible about facing these storms? God doesn’t tell us to go out into the pelting rain on our own or even to claim ground in the battle – He tells us to simply ‘stand’. Standing means remaining exactly where you are; not moving forwards or backwards. In fact, it doesn’t involve much movement or effort at all. And that’s exactly God’s Battle Plan for us – we are simply called to stand (armed with the Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit, dressed in all the other fancy armour) and Trust that our mighty Lord and Saviour will bring His Victory into our situation. That’s the crux of every battle: whether we’re prepared to continue to stand in faith and wait upon our Mighty Warrior King – or to run away in fear. The actual issue raging (that job you’re trusting for, the finances that seem so tight, the healing, the breakthrough) is not the point at all. Both the enemy and God are looking intently at your heart; at your faith. Will you trust Him enough to stand, or give way to the pressures?
I listened to a Graham Cooke sermon a while back and he describes Jesus as standing as the Lion of Judah on the battlefield beside you – and laughing. Our Lord and Saviour looks at the storm and laughs because He alone knows the victory that has already been accomplished on that cross at Calvary. When we start living and walking the kind of lives where God is absolutely in control, we too have the confidence to stand and look the enemy square in the eye and laugh because we know where our power and strength comes from. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always get it right – and part of the reason for writing this post is the need to remind myself of all this yet again – but I know that I want that confidence. And deep down, I know that that confidence only comes through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s where the battle is the toughest – entering into His Presence and drawing strength from Him. Its in His Presence where everything else suddenly fades away and we gain a new perspective; a new battle strategy; a new strength to stand – to overcome.
I don’t know about you but I have some Standing to do – and I pray that where you’re Standing, may you have a renewed revelation of the Lion of Judah laughing beside you, confident that his Victory is on its way.