“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;” – Psalm 144:1
I have a friend who is a military/war buff. He signed up on 9/11, and he loves to serve his country, though he currently does so at home due to injury. I remember how he talked of this verse in relation to actual physical war, but I want to bring your attention to a different war.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:12-13
My dear reader, we have a totally different war that we are fighting. Daily, we, in the US (at least), are now bombarded with talk of ISIS, a group that is barbarically murdering people in the style once reported of the Crusaders, namely, “convert or die…horribly!” We hear of markets collapsing. We know more and more people out of work. We watch prices rise, and we wonder how we will raise our children in this seemingly-desolate-wasteland of a world!
We wrestle not against flesh and blood, though. And thanks be to God that He prepares my hands for battle! For some of you, that will be a real battle, as your hands are prepared to handle many types of weapons to meet the foes on the field of battle. For fellows like myself, my hands are failing me. Daily, I am introduced to another limitation of my feeble hands. And that’s ok! God prepares my spiritual hands, and if, one day, my physical hands are worthless, my spiritual hands will still engage in battle!
But how does this relate to you? You are engaged in a battle now for your soul and your children’s souls. If you don’t have kids right now, your future children could be at stake. I don’t purport to know the details of anyone’s future, but I know that I wish I’d thought about my children long ago when I chose the woman I was going to marry and have babies with. So, let’s think about your future children, if you don’t have any now.
Post divorce, there are many great temptations. Some are simple: “I want sex!” Others are more complex: “If God was really in control, why did my world crumble like this?” But within each of them is a threatening enemy ready to sink his sword into your belly and end your “woes,” as it were. You may think it’s just sex, but then you find yourself embroiled in some sort of twisted scene because your ex got jealous and is taking it out on you, or perhaps you managed to father a child by that momentary tryst. Maybe you go deep into asking whether God is in control, and rather than seek the truth, you jump into “God’s not in control! Screw Him!” and you run into other sins, perhaps over-consumption of alcohol? Perhaps you’re even raising your kids, but you don’t spend time with God and your example is anything but Godly? At any turn, there lies an enemy to try and derail our life of service to Christ.
Recently, I partook in a charity ride that challenged me to temperatures below what I had done (approaching freezing), mileage I had done, but elevation double-and-half-again of my highest efforts. In short, I was pushing myself way beyond my limitations. As I took on the first half of the challenge, I began to realize I was woefully under-prepared for these grades. I had intended to push myself on my stationary at home in the weeks leading up to the ride, but one thing led to another, and it didn’t happen! On this course, I felt every failure to train! In the end, I had to quit (my body literally refused to work) just 6.5 miles and 500 feet from the end of the course!
I missed the congratulatory cheering of crossing the finish line. I missed the blessing of saying, “I did it!!!” I missed out because I allowed myself to be swayed. Granted, one could argue that I have three kiddos to manage. Another could argue that I was insane trying to train for that with kids and a job and everything else. Still, I know the truth; I failed to plan for the event, and it showed!
How often, in our own lives, do we take on a challenge without considering the cost? How often do we tell ourselves sweet lies so we can continue down a course that will end in destruction? How often are we trying to make it by on our strength when God has asked us to do something in His strength?
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” – Luke 14:26-33, emphasis mine
God was quite gracious to me on my ride. A SAG vehicle (Support-And-Gear) picked me up because my legs were cramping from the quads, to the hamstrings, even the calves. I ended up back at my hotel in a hot tub for two hours. At the end of things, I spent a few days with specific knots in my quads and calves at the site of the most intense crampings. It could have been far worse!
And in our own lives, I find God will often do that, providing a rescue in the midst of the battle we picked with no consideration of if we could win. Still, there will be bruises, wounds, and possible losses if we run ahead without considering the Lord’s request! We are called to not lean on our own understanding but to trust Him with everything!
Consider where you are running ahead of God, or where you are running under your own strength rather than His. Let Him train your hands for the spiritual battle ahead of you; don’t turn to the right nor to the left, but stay straight on the narrow road, that He may be your guide and work wonderful miracles through your life!
Vires et Honorem – 1 Corinthians 15:10