We know times get tough. In those times it’s not uncommon to suspect everyone is out to get you. The common response is to duck and hide. Waiting for dark clouds to pass may seem like the safe thing to do, but avoiding is not winning.
I recall the spiritual fire that consumed me when I first accepted Jesus Christ almost 30 years ago. I was so excited about God’s presence in my life. It was a force I’d never known, because unfortunately, I grew up godless.
“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
We didn’t attend church, talk about God or even say grace before meals. As a child, I knew God existed, but without my parents’ lead to mirror His presence or love, I was lost.
So can you imagine the flood of emotion to have finally had God confirmed, and His love revealed? I was wildly anxious to step up and serve His kingdom.
I learned satan roamed the earth like a lion. Soon, I understood the reality of the supernatural realm. To a young believer it can be incredibly intimidating.
Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.…
1 Peter 5:8-9
This isn’t a topic most are people are comfortable with, but it is a spiritual truth. Of course the beauty of this is that through the authority of Christ, satan has no dominion over God’s people.
But let’s be honest, who wants a showdown with the devil. So what do we do? Go below the radar. As a young Christian that’s exactly what I did. The taller you stand for God’s kingdom, the lower satan wants to drag you.
Although believers, Leah and I made a decision to stand openly for Christ when we began the Faithful Marriage Blended Family ministry. We knew it would bring demonic attacks, but we had the blessed assurance of Christ.
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.
Still, we had the option of just attending church services and laying low. You know, get on with our lives and whisper about our faith. But as two sinners blessed by God’s grace, silence wasn’t what was expected from us.
It has been possibly the most difficult series of consecutive days in either of our lives. It would have been so easy to recoil and just cling to something, anything.
In the darkest days of our trial we continued praying together daily. But, in what I suspect was human nature, we tucked ourselves away into what we considered a safe space to avoid further exposure. Things seemed to level off, but not get better.
During this time God placed a phrase on my heart. It was an incredibly strong call to action. He said, “Avoiding is not winning.”
All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
God doesn’t want us to be kind of blessed. It’s like being kind of alive. He wants us to know His full joy, and avoiding the potential for continuing our hardship known as 2017 wasn’t in His plan.
God doesn’t want His people hiding in the dark or avoiding His blessings or quieting their voices. Playing it safe isn’t what His word inspires. We both knew this, but it was a time of difficulties and it kept going and going and going.
I’d returned from travelling all day and saw the hurt in her posture. Leah shared crying out, “Enough,” in her prayer closet, but knew it would be enough only when God declared it to be. She was threadbare. But there was nothing I could do to push this time of testing along. It was going to remain tough.
But not defeated.
God’s message about avoiding not being winning struck deep in my spirit. I began to meditate about David and Goliath. The boy could’ve stayed out in the fields minding his own business, but God’s business was his business.
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
1 Chronicles 28:20
Before I came to know Christ, I like many others thought about poor David the underdog. I didn’t understand at the time that he was never outclassed or outmatched. It was the giant who was about to face God, not the boy shepherd.
Tough times are not the time to avoid life, reality, responsibilities or Christ. Goliath may appear as sin, divorce, debt, death among other seemingly insurmountable foes. By avoiding your Goliath he will not walk away, nor will anyone else slay him for you.
God has equipped you with your own smooth stones and sling. Name each of the stones in your pouch. God gave them to you to defeat your Goliath. Like David, there can be no doubt when facing your giants that the path will be straight and the aim true.
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
1 Samuel 17-48-50
Sure, we could cut back on pushing forward for Christ. He’s done pretty well without our help the last two thousand years or so. But the effort isn’t to help Him, it’s to strengthen us.
There will be no growth by cowering in the shade to avoid the threats. Your troubles will be temporary but your God is forever. You’ve got to see the bigger picture, the legacy building opportunities in trials and understand the eternal consequences of faith versus failing.
Will tough times come? Yes.
Will trials buckle you over in worry? Yes.
Will satan tug harder when you press deeper into Christ? Yes.
Will your smooth stone strike Goliath down to dust? Yes
Do You trust God?
Do you want to win?
Are you willing to endure?
Will you leave the fields to face Goliath?
Will you aim to claim victory?
I Am 2nd,