Last week the kids, Sarah, and I got to spend time up in Richmond VA with Sarah’s side of the family. It’s always so nice to get away for a bit to relax. We spent time with friends, saw a movie, went to a trampoline place, went to a Civil War battlefield, and I rounded the week off by attending the ECO conference at Third Church in Richmond. It was a busy week, but refreshing in the end. The battlefield we visited was the siege at Petersburg. Petersburg was the main supply capital of the south- adjacent to the capital of the south at Richmond. After President Lincoln convinced Ulysses Grant to join the effort he pinpointed Petersburg as an essential target and commenced plans to invade. Robert E. Lee was in command of the troops in and around Petersburg, which made these decisive battles all the more compelling; both Generals of the different armies lined up head to head. After the nine month siege of Petersburg it was a small matter of time before the capture of Lee and the surrender of the south.
In one particular battle at Petersburg the South had entrenched themselves and unmoved from the high ground. The north had the idea of tunneling under the main headquarters of the field and blasting it sky high with dynamite. The plan succeeded. The headquarters were blasted into oblivion, the battle lines were opened up, and the South was completely dazed by what had just happened. The only trouble was that as the Northern troops made their way to the giant crater, they were so amazed at the final product of the months of digging and tunneling, that they just stopped there to gawk at the giant crater. Without pushing forward the Southern troops were able to regroup and engage, resulting in one of the most horrific bloodbaths of the war. The South won the day. One Northern soldier was recorded as saying, “it was a great success, except that we lost”.
The scenario reminds me of the spiritual battles we often find ourselves in. We can look at it from both angles. We need to be reminded that when things are going well, when we feel we have the enemy at bay and we are confident, that the enemy is always plotting our destruction. Our strength must be in the Lord alone and not in our battlements. Our enemy might just be digging a tunnel underneath our façade of strength ready to blow us sky high. Our confidence must be in Jesus and not in our achievements, our wealth, our health, or our prospects. All these may fail us, but He alone can keep us and He alone is the victor in our battles, and we must not be naïve about knowing our enemy.
On the flip side of the battle, have you ever been in prayer for a particular thing or a particular answer? You pray and pray. You write it in your journal. You pray it in public, you pray it by yourself, and then one day out of the blue, God answers the prayer and you are completely floored. It’s like you were satisfied and content praying the prayer but had no notion that God would actually answer it in the way that you hoped He would. Boom! Your prayer is answered and now for the next part of the plan; except, you have no idea what to do next. You were just praying for the first part, and when God suddenly answered you were so blessed and enamored by the miraculous answer, that the ensuing results knocked you on your rear.
The good news about our spiritual battles is first and foremost that the creator of the universe is our commander. If we follow Him we cannot be defeated. Second, we have everything we need to face the personal, emotional, and spiritual battles that we face. Ephesians 6 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Be strong in the Lord in whatever battle you may be facing today. And if you’re not facing a battle today, do two things… 1) Pray for someone who is 2) Prepare yourself for the potential by seeking the Lord in His Word and in His Name.