Tired, hungry, bruised and battered, I lie in the tent trying to recover from yet another unsuccessful battle engagement. My right hand is withered in pain, and my feet are swollen. I stretch out on the ragged cot and stare through the hole in the tent at the stars. I know we have been promised the victory, yet defeat seems so imminent. Every day the enemy pushes forward, encroaching upon our territory.
It started thousands of years ago while we laughed in leisure enjoying seasonal pleasure. The enemy quietly gathered his troops, whispered his strategy, and set the plan in motion. And we played along. Now, a few of us have seen him, recognize his soldiers, and have uncovered his plans. We have gathered to fight them, but we are so unprepared. Years of complacency and fairytales have weakened us and made us vulnerable. Just look at our history and see all that we have allowed him to do—invade our learning centers, our government, our homes. His strategy is pervasive; insidiously, he creeps into every pertinent area of our lives, even befriends us. We are lulled to sleep through his books, movies, television programs—we are entertained as he takes colony after colony, city after city.
Now that we are here, in the midst of the battle, we wonder how we could have been so ignorant—so deceived. For centuries the battle has been raging, and a few soldiers have fought while the majority lived in the hands of the enemy. Now that we are here, we wonder how to bring the others to the battlefield. We see them through a dark glass, going through their daily routines, and every once in a while we see one of them make eye contact. We jump and shout and plead for their attention, but they blink and no longer see us. So we must recruit the only way we can: on our knees.
We pray fervently to our General petitioning Him for new recruits. It’s tough, though. Even those of us who have seen the battle and have fought are often discouraged and sometimes deceived away from the fight. We must be reminded each day to don our whole armor. Often we forget; we are swayed by temporal desires, and we lose the eternal perspective. It is then that the Comforter comes to remind us not to quit, not to give into the deception, but to maintain our priorities, for it is the only way to win the war.
The General reminds us that He has overcome the world, and all we must do is walk it out—show up for battle, armed and ready, and fight the good fight. He assures us that one day He will crush the enemy under His feet. The General rallies us together and fills us with truth and admonishes us to hold our manuals close to our hearts. He tells us to study our battle strategies, to remember and know our enemy, in order that he might not outwit us—we are not unaware of his schemes. The General shows us that our enemy’s number one goal is to steal, kill, and destroy, and that he and his troops are constantly seeking us out to do as much damage to our army as possible.
It astounds us sometimes that the manual is so succinct; we have had a clear profile of our enemy, his intentions, and how to defeat him for centuries and yet we have remained ignorant for so long. We study historical wars and think how insane it would be for any of the battle troops to have had such an intricate battle strategy—all they would ever need to defeat their enemy—and yet ignore their greatest advantage only to end up defeated. Yet this is what many of us have done century after century. But no longer. Finally there are troops determined to recruit.
If we can just gather them together, there is power in numbers. The General supplied succinct instructions the day this war began. He said, be fruitful, multiply, and take dominion. For centuries we have not been fruitful. For centuries we have refused to multiply.
We have been outnumbered; and taking the land has been slow and disheartening as the older soldiers die with no one to replace them on the battlefield. It is heart wrenching to hear their sorrow in their final moments; as they lay dying, they all long for arrows to fill their quiver and have none.
Yet we have hope in the latest generation of soldiers. We see a gleam in their eyes, a deeper understanding of the simple commands of the General. We see many focusing on the fruit of the Spirit as well as the gifts. We see those praying for character instead of charisma. We see so many on their knees; their private lives so holy that their public lives will never be shamed.
We see a few coming to realize the simple power in numbers, the obvious revelation that often a battle can be won or lost by the number of soldiers fighting. One can put a thousand to flight, two, ten thousand. Numbers bring exponential growth and power. And it is making a difference. I have every reason to hope that one or two generations from now, the field will be filled with soldiers who see fully; they will be the generation of soldiers that will win not only battles, but will finally win the war.
Until then, we try to do our part. We begin each day on our knees, petitioning the General to send new recruits, asking Him to open their eyes to the raging battle all around them. We rise from our knees and put on our whole armor: our helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shield of faith, shoes of peace, and our sword of the Spirit. We enter the battlefield sober and alert knowing that the enemy waits to ensnare us, to catch us unaware, to deceive us through small, seemingly harmless things—he will do anything to distract us from our purpose and destiny. Some days he is victorious; some days we are victorious.
No matter what, we must keep on fighting. No matter what, we must remind our troops to be troops that recruit.
By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
Excerpts from the Manual:
(2 Sam 22:35-36)
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