Monday was a day of battle.
Artillery shells were getting lobbed my way. Fired at different intervals but all causing shock waves converging on Monday morning:
CRACK! The reverberation from a member at church who died in her prime…
…WHAM! The four learners killed tragically at Hoerskool Driehoek, out of the blue…
…BOOM! I sat through a viewing of the newly released drama about what Kermit Gosnell did to babies born alive, part court-case drama, part documentary, all horror…
In quick succession…report after report of bad news and evil going unpunished…State Capture…Eskom playing silly games with the public.
It’s a litany of HE (High Explosive) shells, very much like Billy Joel evoked in his song protesting that we (the human race) didn’t start the fire, that it was always burning since the world’s been turning. For the record, Billy was wrong; we sure did start the fire.
It’s been a long time since I’ve so much as thought of the term ‘spiritual warfare’, but I sure felt like I was in the midst of warfare on Monday morning. But, you may ask, why are disparate events, especially random accidents, evidence of spiritual warfare instead of simple chance?
I look at some of the things getting to me, and yes, they are things which the enemy didn’t necessarily cause. Tragedy happens all the time and there may be no spiritual component to it.
- A walkway collapses in Vanderbijlpark.
- A movie chronicles the banality of evil disguised as reproductive choice.
- A government entity is playing chicken with the public after the money has by all accounts been squandered on a stunning level.
- A corrupt family of businessmen buy off a country and wield their influence for all to see, for years without consequence.
But I know the enemy is able to weaponize these things and lob them at Believers. If the imperative behind bad things happening is the intent to steal, kill or destroy, I also know where it comes from.
Scripture clearly teaches that the Christian is on the front lines. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians references the reality of the battle we are in.
‘Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’ (6:11, NIV). In other words, there is something we can do about it.
Our struggle is against ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (6:12, NIV). In other words, the way to perceive the battle, or do something about it, is spiritually.
Our enemy flings ‘flaming arrows’ at us (6:16, NIV). Like something out of The Guns of Navorone.
Paul’s instruction to the Christian references our weapons, worn on our bodies as Roman armour.
The sword as the word of God. Praying in the spirit. Precisely the model of spiritual warfare that Jesus used to resist the enemy. He was always quoting Scripture, always in prayer. And the enemy could not overcome Him. I think of Jesus teaching his disciples to pray and among many other things to pray about, we are to pray daily that He would ‘deliver us from evil’. I’m certain we have heavenly back-up we often know nothing about, hampering the ability of our enemy to harm us.
Practically speaking, we’re constantly thinking under pressure. Instead of acting, we’re reacting. The enemy attacks using hellish artillery with little warning, taking the initiative and forcing the Christian to scramble for a response. In theory, the longer we’re engaged in battle, the better at it we become. Veterans.
I must confess I get confused and bewildered with the campaign. God is in control of – and the originator of – the overall plan. I’m responsible for my particular area of operations and must simply execute the tactics (the means to obtain the objective) and leave the planning up to Him.
Typically I don’t get it right.
I get overwhelmed with the emotional investment that is inherent in the idea that we are in a campaign with eternal consequences. I cannot feel what He feels, but He must feel deeper about it than me. I cannot understand His battle plan, especially in a larger context, but without question He understands His plans, better than I ever could.
I just have to follow my orders.
The strategy is to save the lost and preserve Christians for heaven.
The tactics are spreading the message and resisting evil.
The strategy, the state of this eternal, spiritual war, is up to Him.
If I were to give myself a pep-talk shaped like a boomerang I would say the following:
You utilise what you know (which is little) to buttress against the unknown to present the imperfect (yourself) for battle whose victory and end is perfection.
I frequently ask whether my concern for the lost – those who need to believe the message – is conceit on my part. Or is it half-hearted obedience? Or posturing? A kind of virtue signalling where I text my reputation of caring for everyone to see?
I don’t really want an answer as to how selfish I really am, or in other words – how far my heart goes in buying into this battle, this grand strategy of salvation that involves saving lives. That question is like the mythical monster in the closet that creeps out in the dark to scare the child.
He has seen the answer to the question. He has laid His hand upon me anyway. God has night-vision.