Take your stand in the middle of the field and fight.
That was the sermon that I heard years ago from a flawed and troubled pastor who for years had been knee deep in personal sin unbeknown to me or others at the time. It has stuck with me ever since. Could a bad messenger carry a good message? His sin infected others like a virus, looking for a host. Let's explore four others whose lives have been infected though, through no fault of their own. A middle age guy, Stan, who builds a trailer business for two decades alongside his dad whom he deeply admires, losing him unexpectedly to a heart attack only to be fired by his step mother to gain his fortune. Or, two foster kids, Brenden and Carleton, beginning life unwanted by a prostitute mother and absent, drug-addicted father struggling to develop their identities. Lastly, Maria, a 14 year old Hispanic girl, having to live under the shame of being both undocumented and raped by her own Dad. Although the names have been changed, I've come face to face in the last few weeks with these personal tragedies. How does someone overcome those issues? Maybe our circumstances are not as great or grave, but little changes in how and who fights the battles for us. Deut. 20:2-4 states, "When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall say,' Hear O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.'" You see, we have a high priest that knows our circumstances, troubles and baggage (read Job for evidence) while understanding our sin disease. All He asks us to do in the midst of it is simply take your position and stand firm, allow Him to do the fighting and not allow the enemy a foothold or control of your life by being disappointed in people or blaming Him. Sin is real around us, wounds deeply and unfortunately a consequence of the fallen world we live in. Our hope is that all that He needs to work in, through and for us is to drop our agendas, give over our pain and flesh responses and submit to His justice and will! Sound impossible? Just before I left for Ecuador last year, Birmingham was hit by a F5 tornado. One consequence of that event was the loss of hundreds of lives, from college kids to babies to working moms. One death, a pastor, was that of my 60 year old plumber's son. Previously, we spoke of God's redeeming love many times as we worked on my houses together without much response. My plumber had to make a choice how he would respond to his loss which impacted and changed his life in a moments notice. Fairness, chance or orientation toward God had nothing to do with it, otherwise that son, pastor and father of two would still be with us. As it turned out, my friend and plumber has chosen to walk with God in peace and not in opposition to Him (picture peace-walking plumber). In the midst of the storms of life we either allow what we are experiencing to influence our view of God, or we allow our view of God to influence what we are experiencing. The gospel will advance with or without us, our help or whatever we or others try to do to thwart it. In Esther 4:12-14 we see this played out as Mordecai encourages Esther to speak up and intercede for her people, the Jews; "'Do not think that because you are in the kings house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"' Has the Lord positioned you perfectly to eternally impact His kingdom or are you paralyzed by your own self-preservation? Are you looking at your situation as God ordained or cursed? Its been said that for evil to triumph all that good men need to do is remain silent. Here's the long and short of it. Satan wins when we are silent and not standing but "He who is in you is greater than he who is the world." 1 John 4:4
Today, I am praying for three people to have a 'saving faith' of the creator of the universe, director of all things and seeker of each heart: My Dad, my nephew who is heading off to fight in Afghanistan next month and Victor, an Ecuadorian business owner. He is yearning to purchase that which He gave such a heavy price!
" You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.". Isaiah 26:3