Friday, May 15, 2009

Encouragement for the Battle-Weary Soldier

At the last non-denominational ministry I was involved with, there was a unique perspective often preached. It came from the founder of the ministry and would permeate our worship and inspire a sense of duty. It was the teaching that we were an army waging war, with an enemy who opposes Almighty God. We were to spend our time and resources with this in mind, equipping ourselves for the battle and seeking His will as we fought the good fight.

So much of it seemed hyperbole at the time. Not anymore.

Like so many other Christians, I felt as though we turned a corner last November. Life as we knew it, had changed. But how much, we didn't know. There was just something inside of us that knew things had changed and it wasn't for the better. During the past five months, many have been shocked as we've witnessed stunning blows to our Constitutional rights and our sovereignty as a nation. We've been shocked as we wake up, not recognizing our country anymore. Speaking for myself, this is not the nation I grew up with and certainly not the one I had envisioned for the future.

During these past five months, I've given serious consideration to my identity. For many years, my identity has been firmly rooted in being a red-blooded All-American girl. I've been patriotic to the core with many in my family fighting in WWI, WWII, The Korean War, and in Iraq. I love our country's history and would defend her to all detractors. But I believe something has shifted and my eyes need to be upon something greater.

I have always had a somewhat general understanding that spiritually, we are at war with the world. Jesus Himself said that the world hated Him and did not recognize Him as the Son of God. Today, this is true more than ever. With rising, militant atheism and nominal Christian churches capitulating to "politically-correct" beliefs , the hatred is ramping up. We are engaged in a fierce, spiritual battle.

Each day, we are faced with one outrageous development after another - priests brazenly cavorting with single women, formerly respectable news outlets openly mocking average citizens concerned for their country, honorable Catholic institutions welcoming supporters for "the culture of death," Christians being labeled as 'haters' for holding strong to their convictions - in addition to the ever-increasing number of senseless murders, genocide, and a race of mad world leaders bent on world domination.

Heavy? As Governor Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!" But did God leave us alone and without help? Praise be to His name, the answer is an emphatic No!

Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest." We are given our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered more than any of us will ever suffer, and who now stretches out His nail-wounded hands to us with love. He knows the enemy we face. And the enemy isn't always obvious. It can be the relentless news on TV and radio, the co-worker who smugly mocks your belief in "a higher power," a networking event filled with non-thinking people blindly following a political "messiah", or a surly teenage son who thinks religion stinks. We are surrounded each day by the tools of the enemy. Separately, they wouldn't be difficult to handle. But together, grouped as one big package from hell, dumped upon our doorstep each day - can be spiritually overwhelming.

Lately, I've been thinking about home. Our real home. I mentioned this to our intern, a young college-aged man working in our office, and he politely listened. He is an atheist. But I shared with him that the woes of this world isn't a surprise to Christians. We understand that this world doesn't like us very much, anyway and that our true home, is in heaven. Heaven has been on my mind more and more. No surprise, given that this world is starting to become darker.

We have bits of heaven on earth already: The Holy Sacrifice of Mass, our loving relationships with family and friends, the joys of experiencing life's beauty in so many ways. I believe God uses those small slices of joy to encourage us to not give up, and that there is "lots more where that came from." Can you imagine being in a place filled with joy and void of suffering? That is our home and as we cling to Him, that is where we are headed.

More than ever, we need to be at His side, receiving spiritual nourishment and getting stronger in the spirit. Nothing shakes the enemy more than watching Christians get stronger. And the wonderful, delicious truth of it is this: when we are at our weakest, that is when He is able to be His strongest. Because we know at that point that it really isn't anything within us that shines for His glory - it is all Him. We are only His earthen vessels, but vessels in His Hands turn into pure gold, mighty witnesses of His truth.

We aren't meant for this world, but for another higher, more glorious place. Where the colors are brighter, and His love and beauty fills the air. A place where all the saints live at this moment and who are praying for us to not falter, to not give up - but persevere.

Be of good cheer.

1 comment:

Shirley said...

An inspiring post, Mary Rose. I too have been watching the clouds of evil thickening, even in my own family there are souls in danger of being lost to the machinations of the enemy. I too have been thinking of, and longing for heaven: ( Psalms 41
2 As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God.)
I believe that things are going to get much worse before they get better, and that souls who truly love God will suffer great trials. I am thankful that we can rely on the strength of a God who will not fail us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee.