Judges 3:1-2 (the message)
These are the nations that God left there, using them to test the Israelites who had no experience in the Canannite wars. He did it to train the descendents of Israel, the ones who had no battle experience, in the art of war.
Have you ever experienced battle fatigue?
Grown weary with the hard stuff of life?
Maybe marriage, parenting, friendships, family dynamics, finances or personal habits. Maybe lack or managing abundance. Maybe dreams yet to reach fulfillment or regrets that weigh you down. Maybe it’s more subtle yet just as destructive…self-pity, self-absorption, self-centeredness, self-hatred.
I think we all experience times of battle fatigue. We lose our steam and passion for God’s Word. For prayer. For doing things His way. Our weary hearts scream failure and the condemnation reaps further discouragement.
As I read a bit in Judges this morning I am reminded of a couple of things. If you are weary with giants that don’t seem to budge, I pray you are encouraged.
We don’t always face battles because we have failed. Or because we are failures. We face challenges within and without because we are human. I used to think that if I loved and served God the right way then I would live the victorious life–except I thought victorious meant smooth sailing without any real challenges. The word victory assumes a battle ensued.
Perhaps we feel like God should just brush away the hard stuff so we can walk easily down our path. Perhaps we thought this is what Jesus-following looks like. We believe in Him and then float through life without facing hard and sometimes ugly stuff in our lives. In ourselves.
I realize some do not take kindly to this idea that God tests His children. I don’t believe He sends calamity or evil our way to test us. I believe He lets us face the hard stuff though. But mostly so we can see our true hearts. And so we can actually experience more of His power instead of just talk about it.
God left other nations in Israel’s way as they attempted to take territory in order to train those with no experience in the art of war. The truth is we don’t know what we know until we live it. We don’t know about obedience and trusting God and choosing His way until the choice is really hard. We don’t know about priorities and humility and freedom from the giants of life until we recognize only our yielding makes way for His power to move the mountains within and without.
Quoting scripture, praying and trusting are essential, but really they are quite ineffective without obedience. I can talk about what God’s Word says all day long…but if I won’t do what His Word says in the middle of my problem then I have not yet made way for His power and presence in my circumstances.
You know what wears us thin? What brings on our battle fatigue and tempts us to bury our heads in the sand?
Smile…that sounds kind of old-school huh? But I type out the word with a heart convicted.
Grace and mercy chase after us each and every day. His Word says so. They keep us in right relationship with our Creator.
But seeing our circumstances change? Growing and maturing?
That happens over a lifetime of training in battle. Learning obedience. Reading His Word and realizing that all that stuff about our hearts, our words, our attitudes and motives…that stuff about giving and picking up our cross and reaching for the goal? It’s our choice.
I really can’t make changes happen on my own. And when I begin to feel bullied by life I seem to close in on myself. Withdraw from Jesus and let negativity call the shots. I believe the lie that if I was doing things “right” then I wouldn’t have a battle to fight at all.
This morning I remember battles don’t make us failures at living and loving God. They are simply training ground. Our opportunity to grow and see the Hand of God break down barriers and breathe fresh life into dead things.
As I yield. Do things His way. Remember the battle truly is His but I have to let Him have it in more than just my fancy words.
With my choices.
In my obedience.