The other day I drove past an intersection and my mind flashed back to something that happened there once.
I was driving my son to kindy one morning when I entered the scene of the intersection. A black helicopter flying low across the road. Police vehicles. An ambulance. Police officers and armed defenders. An awkward-looking campervan down the cordoned-off side road. I had to drive through this intersection. I soon learned that an armed gunman had busted into a locked campervan in a town an hour away, shot one of the occupants (the other escaped) and fled in the murder vehicle to this village, one of our neighbouring localities. He had then escaped. That night, a sound appeared: the sound of the police helicopter circling our little country neighbourhood. Round and round. It was pitch dark. The gunman was evidently in our area.
It was scary. If he had busted into a locked campervan, what was to stop him from busting through a window or door into someone’s house? And night, night makes everything more scary. And the not-knowing. We had no information about what was happening. Feeling fear in a situation like that is normal. But we don’t have to be crippled by fear. Furthermore, fear is a distraction used by the enemy. But my eyes were opened. This was a battlefield.
This man made some very bad choices. He chose to sin. But he was not acting alone. The enemy was all over this. I became angry. Angry at the real enemy. “You do not get to dump this on my doorstep and get away with it! You chose the wrong neighbourhood!” If the devil brings the battle to my neighbourhood, my community, I’ll bring the battle to Jesus. I prayed. I called on a bunch of reinforcements and they prayed. I do not take things like this lightly. There were people, families, police officers and police dogs that needed protection. There were police officers that needed the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to know where to find the man and what to do. There was a man that needed to be caught. There was a man that needed intervention from the Holy Spirit to convict him, to prevent more bad choices, to show him that there was a better way. There was a God who still loved him despite the wrong that he had done. And there was an enemy who’s plans and schemes needed to be taken DOWN. I couldn’t do any of these things in my own strength, but God could. These are the things I prayed for. Our prayers spur on God and his army.
The next morning we found out that the man had been caught. And noone else got hurt. I praise God for this. I do not take it lightly. Not when it’s on my doorstep.
There are battlefields going on around all of us, every day. They’re often not as intense as this, but the enemy doesn’t sleep. He is sneaky. He can disguise himself as something good. He can use others to hurt and offend us. He can use feelings of guilt, shame, condemnation, regret, fear, anger, envy, greed and more to set sparks to his plans. He shoots arrows at us when we’re tired, sick or going through a hard time. He sends ‘presents’ to distract us or delay us from what God wants us to do. He’ll make light of a situation and point us towards the couch. “You don’t have to.” “It doesn’t matter.” “Someone else will deal with it.”
He tries to disguise the battlefield with a fog of anything that will shield our eyes from the real truth – the spiritual battle going on. What does the devil want? He wants us to fail. He wants us to fail ourselves, to fail each other and to fail God. And even more than that, he wants God to fail, or at least miss out on the glory. He knows his time is short before Jesus will return. He tries hard.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. – 2 Corinthians 11:14
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God… But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” – Revelation 12:9-12
As I sit here writing this, I have a leg injury. I cannot do what I was planning to do, which is work on the multiple outdoor building projects that I have planned or started. The timber sits outside, waiting. Spring is coming fast and I need to finish building the greenhouse and more raised beds to grow more food for my family. Also, I just love doing things outside. I’ve had to dismiss feelings of frustration and uselessness this week as I sit inside not being able to do these things and more. But you know what? This is a battlefield too. I refuse to give in to feelings of uselessness. Just because I can’t do what I really want to do doesn’t mean I can’t do other useful things. Just because I’m weak by the world’s standards doesn’t mean God can’t use me. I can still write. I can still pray. I can still fight.
The truth is, God will never fail. He has already won because Jesus finished his business on the cross. Bad things still happen in this broken world, but God will never leave us or forsake us. He will never stop loving us, even when we sin. He never wants us to fail. He wants us to walk with him. He wants us to overcome. He wants us to fight with him and he provides all the armour we need! God is bigger. God is stronger. God is worthy of all the glory.
Now, God doesn’t want us to fight against our fellow humans, he wants us to fight against the devil and his allies. Why be angry at someone when we could pray for the enemy’s plans against them to be destroyed? Pray for their eyes to be opened to God’s wisdom and his love? Pray for understanding and peace and forgiveness? Wouldn’t all those things be better than being angry at that person? If we’re starting to feel taken over by anger or fear or something else negative, we ought to stop and ask, “What is really going on here?” Because that’s a battlefield. Who are we going to fire at?
God’s ideal is for us to love one another (John 13:34, John 15:12-17, Galatians 5:13-15), to live peaceably with one another (Romans 12:18), and to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. – Ephesians 4:25-27
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. – Ephesians 6:10-12
I have previously mentioned this saying, “No-one fights alone” as a step up from “No-one walks alone.” It is good for us to walk daily life with each other. But what happens if two people are walking down the street and one suddenly gets attacked? Is the other one going to run away or stand frozen or are they going to fight for their friend? Or instead, what happens if one person falls in a big hole? Is the other going to leave them or wait for someone else to deal with it or are they going to do what they can to help? We all want friends who will fight for us when we’re attacked or when we get stuck in a hole. Will you be a person who says that no-one fights alone?
Will you fight in prayer for people, do life together with people, share your struggles and victories with people and encourage people? Will you pray when someone asks? Will you build trust and accountability with a small group of fellow believers? Are you ready to encourage and support other people in deed as well as word? Are you willing to make an effort? Will you settle for going out for a happy coffee with someone while they’re feeling overwhelmed by tasks they can’t do at home? If we think we’re an island and we don’t need anybody’s help or we’re too busy or oblivious to help others, we’ll stop fighting. We’ll drift to the back of the battlefield and end up wandering around, lost, vulnerable and ineffective.
So, today I want to say don’t forget that you’re in a battle. The enemy will attack from any angle that he can to make you drift, to make you hurt yourself or others or to try and rob God of his glory. Fix your eyes on Jesus, because you are not only clothed in his righteousness, you are clothed in his ARMOUR, if you choose to put it on. Follow him. Follow his directions. Gather with your fellow believers and fight with them. No-one fights alone. Be the warrior that God has called you to be. Fight for God’s plan for you, for his goodness and his glory!
Here is a collection of fighting words from the Bible. I am putting them altogether here at the end because reading them together gathers momentum. I pray these words from God will spur you on in whatever battlefields you find yourself in.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints – Ephesians 6:13-18
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:7-8
But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. – Psalm 94:22
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord , who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. – Psalm 18:2-3
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. – Psalm 23:4-5
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. – Exodus 14:14
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind… He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. – Psalm 18:6-19
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. – Psalm 18:34-35
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:10-11
No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord . The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. – Proverbs 21:30-31
The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. – 2 Timothy 4:18
as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. – Philippians 1:20
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain… – 1 Corinthians 15:10
- What is your position on the battlefield right now? How is that affecting the battle?
- How do you see God on the battlefield? Does your attitude towards him need any adjustment? How can you remind yourself and others that God is almighty, supremely powerful and victorious?
- What can you do to put on God’s armour daily and keep your eyes open?
- Pick some fighting words; a scripture or two, or ten, and stick them up somewhere where they will spur you on. For God’s word is the sword.
All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.