I heard a story recently on the radio about a guy in California, who went to a Home Depot, headed down the tool isle, grabbed a couple different kinds of saws and began to saw both of his arms off. As soon as he got all the way down to the bone, he passed out and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Later that very same day, there was a commercial I happen to catch on TV while I was running at the gym, about a show called “Preacher’s Daughters”. After seeing several plugs for it, I gathered that it was a show that follows these Pastors and their families to air the rebellion, disobedience and strife that’s stirred up in their lives. I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world someone who’s suppose to be an example of the love and life of God would deliberately expose and exalt the disaster happening in their lives and the lives of their children to make some money and have a little fame.
It’s sad but true to say that these are just a couple of examples of the frequent experiences I have with things that disturb me in our society today, and when I see and hear these kinds of stories and others like them, my first reaction a lot of the time is to think “What in the world is wrong with people?!” I think it’s safe to say that we all jump immediately to blaming something or somebody for many of these kinds of indecencies; parents, music, movies, bullies, cultures, religions, government, spouses, teachers, etc.
Choose Your Battles
I’m a fighter by nature. My great-grandmother was 100% Irish and from the stories I’ve heard, she had a fierce temper and presence about her that made even the strongest man hide. So naturally, I could find a reason to scrap with anybody over anything, anywhere, anytime, and in my former years I truly did. I fought my parents, my friends, my brother, the law, even my teachers, in fact my mother enrolled me in Catholic school half way through Kindergarten because my teacher and I were always at odds, and I couldn’t advance educationally because of the constant strife between her and I, this was in Kindergarten!!! You can imagine the rest of teen years…
As a young mother, I took this approach and attitude with my kids and my husband, and as a young adult in general I took this approach with the issues of the world that got my attention. I went on and fought every battle, and was determined to win. I had something to say about every situation that arose. I spent my life exhausted, bitter and depleted, never having energy to laugh, play, grow or LIVE!
Through my walk with Christ, He had to teach me to choose my battles. He had to show me that by constantly putting up a fight, I wasn’t going to change every situation, I wasn’t going to change people and I alone wasn’t going to change the world, and that not every battle was worth the effort.
While there were issues I was called to stand against, and truth that I was called to stand for, there were many things in life that I was going to have to let go of, like going 20 miles out of my way to grocery shop because I’d boycotted a store due to the actions of the CEO…. (I mean seriously, if I’d boycotted every person, product, or establishment that was imperfect in some way I’d be barred to my house for life!!) I needed to rid myself of hateful attitudes towards all the crazy people aired on the 10 o’clock news, I needed to stop carrying on and on about who had the nerve to put the toilet paper roll on with the paper coming from underneath instead of over the top, and investigating every clump of toothpaste that was left in the sink! And oh how I needed to stop lecturing everyone and their mother about the effects of this food, or that product, or this lifestyle and that parenting style, and realize that just because it was something that God was teaching me, it didn’t mean it was for everyone… On and on it could go, if we chose to fight every battle with every opinion on every topic that we have. Good grief, I can’t tell you how much life and energy I got back after I came to terms with the fact that I was wasting a lot of time addressing things that I was not called to address.
A Swing and a Miss
As I said before, I used to be so exhausted all of the time. I would fall into bed at night just fatigue, and frustrated with many of the actions of my day. Even after I learned to choose my battles and work hard to fight only those that were really important to my calling in life, I was just always discouraged and frustrated with it all. I would spend my days, arguing with my kids, crying over spilled milk, shaking my fist at God, and being at odds with family members, friends and even random customer service representatives. I would cry out to God and prayerfully ask Him to help me with my anger and constant frustration with the seemingly endless battles of the world, and most of the time it would come out more like “Oh God, just kill me already!”
Then one weekend I attended a “Bridging the Gap” women’s retreat up in Alexandria, MN. I met a prophetic minister through a friend of mine, and she began to speak into my life in a powerful way. In the midst of speaking to me she identified that I was a fighter, and that I spent my life exhausted because I was always ‘swinging and missing’. As she spoke, God illuminated the fact, that the reason I was always so exhausted and never winning over these hurdles in my life was because I was swinging at the decoys, and missing the target. I imagined myself in a boxing ring with gloves and mouth guard, hopping around swinging like crazy at thin air, wearing myself out, while my opponent just sat on the other side of the ring laughing at me. Eventually I would get so tired that I’d “KO” myself! Like a light switch I realized that I needed to stop swinging and start learning to do a one punch knock out on the situation.
I had to identify what I was swinging at. A certain demographic or movement of people, an establishment or corporation, someone’s lifestyle, a faulty choice that was made, or an act of offense that was performed…. none of these things could account for the real issue, these were all symptoms of the real issue, the issue of the heart and the battle for the soul. Swinging at any of these will leave you tired, unfulfilled, hateful and bitter, which changes nothing.
Know Your Enemy
Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
What then is my target, who is my enemy? Is it God when the tsunami rushes in and sweeps away thousands? Is it my husband or kids when I feel invisible and unappreciated? Is it the reality TV that airs a false perception of what’s normal and exalts evil as good? What about the music that drives the teenager into a dark place or internet sites that produce the pornography that separates a husband from his wife? Is it the bar that serves the alcohol to the guy that drives home drunk and kills an innocent person? Is it the companies that manufacture the gun that ends up in the hand of a deranged killer? Or perhaps is it the government when a father loses his job and is unable to support his family?
How would we respond to these situations in life then if we couldn’t point our finger at someone or something, could we find peace amidst it all?
Yes, I whole heartedly believe that you should stand up for those things you believe in, in a constructive and prudent way; Pray, vote, fund ministry and outreach to parts of the world in need, volunteer for a cause, minister to hearts in need, share LIFE with those around you. Discipline your children and safeguard them from things that are detrimental to their spiritual and physical health; Keep them from watching smut TV, listening to garbage music and reading crap magazines. After all that’s why you are their parent, to lead them, protect them, and bring them up in a way so they are well equipped and ready to be leaders!
But listen folks, our enemy is not with flesh and blood, our enemy is NOT other people! Our fight is with the dark spiritual forces of this world that are battling for our very souls. There is an assignment on your life whether you believe it or not. Our weapons to fight the enemy of darkness is not of physical nature, it is not to hurl insults or curses against your neighbor, or to wish ill, harm or death upon those who do us wrong. Open your eyes, and your heart, don’t be numb with hate and bitterness for the things you cannot control, but be filled with LIFE and LOVE and overflow in prayer and ministry to those around you, and LIVE each day with wild abandon, allowing God to show you your calling so you can make a real difference in this life.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
…. So before you take aim and ready yourself to begin waging war in the battles of life, big or small, public or private, be sure to “Know Your Enemy”.