You know, I never really got the appeal of war movies. I would try to sit down and watch the old John Wayne films, but I just didn't get them. I don't really remember playing soldier or cops and robbers. It's not that I ever had anything against these careers. I respect soldiers, those willing to live and die in order to protect their families and the freedoms that they partake in every day. I have always respected the focus and training they endure in order to give them the strength to do what they do.
I was thinking about all of this today. And as I was doing my usual daily bible thing, I started to think about how often battle, or at least battle as parable, comes up in the Word. Paul talks about the armour of God in Ephesians 6, about the armour of Light in Romans 13. Jesus spoke of armour as a symbol for who He was (and wasn't) in Luke 11. Then there was Paul's use of the symbolic soldier. He called Epaphroditus, Timothy, and Archippus his fellow soldiers in Christ. When talking about obedience to God, he compared it to a soldier putting his commanding officer's orders above those of their personal affairs. He even used the soldier as a parable for pastors to have the right to be paid for their labours.
Then, there's David and the Psalms! Man, I so get David's use of battle as parable for spiritual warfare. Afterall, he was an accomplished soldier, a military leader, a general and a king. What was as common to him as sheep are to a farmer, was the vehicle by which he often spoke of his relationship with the Lord. 18 talks of His strength in battle as coming from the Lord. 24 talks about God as being a king, mighty in battle. 55 speaks of God as his protection during times of struggle. 78 uses historical battles to teach about what obedience to God brings. 89 speaks of his sin as damning the strength that God gives him. 140 says that God protects him in battle, while 144 says that his training came from God alone!
What amazing imagery! David, or Paul, or Christ on earth. Each one engaged in a spiritual battle. Battles are bloody and fierce and dirty. They are filled with anxiety and fear, and split-second decisions. Every moment, every second, our life is on the line. Every second determines whether we walk out alive, or in a body bag. It';s not glamorous, it's grim. But wars always have been and always will be.
But in the middle of every battle we face, we are not alone! A good soldier isn't born skilled, he is trained. He doesn't defeat the opposition with his bare hands (sorry, Jackie Chan) but with his weapons. He doesn't go out there blindly, but has a great leader, a great commander. He is supplied with outposts to rest in, with supplies to keep him going. And the best soldier? He uses those resources everyday! He keeps his weapons honed, listens to the advice of great men, and does all he can to obey orders while still keeping himself alive.
Every day is a spiritual battle, a war for the hearts and souls of mankind (man,that sounds like a quote from Constantine, doesn't it?) But it's true. Every day, we are under attack. Our morals are questioned, people trying to convince us that sin isn't sin. Our God is doubted, and we are told that adherence to him is nothing more than the slippery slope to fanatacism. We have been freed in Christ, but Satan slips in little messages telling us that we can never be free, that we will always be who we are, and that God can not transform us. We are swept away by lies, and fears, and doubts. And all of these attacks, they are the weapons of the devils army.
But here's the thing: the devil is fighting a war that is already lost! By the blood of Christ himself, God has already won our hearts and minds. It's all over! God 1, Devil 0. It reminds me of those stories about pockets of Japanese soldiers found stranded on desert islands. Even though the war had long been over, and they were long out of supplies, they continued to fight as though the Japanese Empire was still conquering Asia one island at a time. That is the devil, a conquered and defeated foe who continues to try and take you down!
I felt that battle recently. I sinned. I sinned against my Commander-in Chief, and hurt innocent people along the way. I felt so sick and ashamed by it, that I haven't eaten or slept for four days now. I prayed to God, begged God for forgiveness, and I felt His hand lift that burden. Rather than hide it, as I would have, I confessed it openly to family and friends. And yet... and yet Satan still tries to tell me I can't change, still tries to tell me to go back to that sin again. Time and again he tries to get me to give up or quit, or just end it all.
And every time I have been about to fall to that trap, God has sent reinforcements. There were consequences for my sin, and people I once relied on have left me. But God provided people to fight alongside me, to pray for me. And even those people who left my side for now, I know they are praying for me, and I praise God for that!
Every time I am wounded by sin, God heals me by the blood of the \Lamb. Every time I feel overcome and lost, God gives me direction. Every time I feel alone, God provides soldiers to fight alongside me. And every time I want to give in to the fear, God finds a way to trade fear for peace! I am not alone in my fight. I am not lost to those who know me. I fight! I fight, and I fight! Will I stumble along the way? Sure. Will I be hurt and wounded? You betcha. But... will I give up? NEVER!
"O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” - II Chronicles 14:11