The coffee was made and poured. Sleep stupor finally lifted enough; I sit down to become quiet before my Jesus. I’ve been anticipating this moment, this morning peace before the chaos of the day begins. I sit, coffee in hand and bible before me, breathe in deep, begin to pray – and then it happens.
My husband needs help with something. Okay, no problem. But then I remember that we’re currently living out of suitcases, which means finding this small item will be more a treasure hunt than I anticipated. Found it! Sitting again, but then I remember I left my coffee in the other room. No problem, off to retrieve my coffee when I remembered something else (you know, because my brain is a constant stream of to-do lists. I’m sure that doesn’t sound familiar for any of you). That’s okay, I’m a pretty efficient person so it shouldn’t take me long to complete this one small item and get back to my hopeful time with God. Then the phone rings of friends sending warm invites to join them for breakfast.
Distraction: That intangible thing I feared in coming back to the Land of Busyness and Distraction.
The sounds of “BUY ME NOW!” blare from the television, a phone rings in the background, and someone is calling me to come help them with something.
This busyness surely will become the death of my quiet faith if I allow it.
I sit, torn because I know what I want and what I need, yet also am aware of all the other things that pull at me and compete for my attention. It’s then I hear Him speak:
“You have to fight for this, child.”
“I know, Father; I know,” I respond.
His gentle reproach is so perfect. He knows me better than anyone and so He speaks to me in perfect timing, in perfect tone, and in perfect tongue. He truly is a great God. And He chooses His words carefully and perfectly.
God recognizes that in this world we will have trouble. We will have trouble in our marriages, in our families, in our jobs, in our churches, in our thoughts, in our attitudes, in our lives. But He doesn’t leave us to flounder in this wearisome knowledge and with no hope of rescue. What does His Word say?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, emphasis added)
The Greek word for fight is agónizomai, which means to struggle, like engaged in an intense athletic contest or warfare.
God knows when He asks His children to live differently that it is a struggle and, like that of an athletic competition or as in warfare, the struggle is not for one passing moment. You train for the struggle, you discipline yourself, and you compete for the whole game, not just the first half or the first 3 quarters…the whole game. For our entire lives this fight will be an ongoing, intense struggle. The victory rests in Christ and, as His children, our identity rests in Him. As a result, our identity is that of victorious living!
Friends, you don’t have to fight in your own energy and strength. If you desire to live a life glorifying to God all you have to do is surrender it. In His upside down kingdom, instead of asking for a perfect performance or the shiny things of this world, all He asks of His children is that we give our lives. Our lives consist of our time, our commitments, our talents, our loved ones, and our passions. When we joyfully give these aspects of ourselves to Him we find ourselves not in want, but full. It’s when we live in opposition to this, giving ourselves to the things of this world, that we are found left in want.
My prayer for you today is you would recognize the victory that is in Christ. You don’t have to fight alone. Instead, you can take heart because we know that Christ has overcome the world! I pray you would hunger more for the things of the Creator than the things of Creation. I pray you would be able to find that moment of quiet surrender before God and I pray you would hear from Him. I pray, dear friends, that you would make the choice to struggle for Christ instead of comforting yourself in this world and numbing yourself in its distractions. Amidst the cultural busyness of this holiday season I pray you would find the ability to come before the King of Kings and Holy of Holies and “hunger for filling in a world that is starved” (Ann Voskamp).
“For the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.” – 1 Timothy 4:8-10 (HCSB)