It was a bright, sunny, summer day. A great day to disobey…or so I thought.
I was seven and had just decided to follow Jesus, but the struggle was as real then as it is now. To be honest, I have no recollection of my actions that caused me to be in trouble, but I do remember thinking, “I thought I wouldn’t get in trouble after I asked Jesus in my heart.”
With that thought, and with all the seven-year-old strength I could muster, I tromped outside, stomped on the ground, pointed downward, and said, “Devil, leave me alone. I am tired of getting in trouble.”
I stomped a little longer, stirred up some dust and the devil, and came back into the house announcing to my parents I would not be getting in trouble anymore, because I just told the devil to leave me alone.
Naturally, it is that simple; if you tell him to leave you alone he will. I’d love to tell you that he listened, and that at age seven I learned how to put the devil in his rightful place. However, the reality is the Enemy still seeks to steal, kill and destroy my joy. My guess is he does the same to you.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
We have a mutual enemy, and we need each other. You need me. I need you. We need community to fight this war. Paul writes a prayer to the church at Colossae in Colossians 1 reminding them they are not alone and giving us an example of how we can pray for one another. The Message paraphrases verses 11-12 like this:
“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grimstrength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that enduresthe unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enoughto take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.”
Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you wanted to throw in the towel, look at the coach, walk out the gym, and never look back? (I think I just summarized my life as a Tennessee fan… I digress). Anyway, have you ever felt so discouraged, where you simply couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Last year was an incredibly difficult year, and I wanted nothing more than to throw in the towel on church and people. To be honest, it is a miracle I didn’t; I actually tried a couple of times. I cried out to God and begged him to give me answers to why I was hurting, to why others were hurting, but He never did. Instead, He whispered, “Look at all the ways I’ve led you and have been faithful. Trust Me.” Any strength I had would easily be classified as “the-grim-strength-of-gritting-your-teeth” (you know the only part of the prayer Paul prays you don’t have). What I did have was a friend who listened, who prayed for me daily. She did not have answers for me, but she knew where they were found and pushed me to Jesus. I had a husband who constantly placed the truth of the Word of God in my mind.
Looking back on that time, one thing is certain, I was in the weight room of life, and I was the one gritting. Thanks be to God, that He was the one right beside me pushing me on, and training me to have the glory-strength that He gives.
He is doing the same for you. You may feel completely isolated, discouraged, ignored, and forgotten, but the God of the universe has not left you or abandoned you, nor, will He. He is taking that battle in your life and strengthening you. That is right. Our Creator Father is still forming us. He is making us strong. This dark time will bring joy. God will use this season for incredible things. Though it may seem too broken or too ugly, He will make it beautiful and bright, and void of all the darkness. We may be fighting a battle, but we have already won.
“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Colossians 1:13-14)
See, what I didn’t grasp at seven was that I had already been delivered from the domain of darkness. The battle wasn’t mine to fight alone, nor is it yours. We have a great Redeemer that continues to fight for us and rescue us from the battle, and He has the victory. I’m so grateful.
God, let us be people who live in freedom. Teach us to be battle-strong even when our flesh fails. Remind us of your victory. Thank you, Lord, for being our everlasting Rescuer. Amen.