Sometimes I wonder where the line is between fighting my own battles and relinquishing control. In some instances, I'm told to "Stand firm," in others to "Stand still." Which is it Lord? Both?
Spiritual warfare is a reality for any believer. Regardless of what you thought you were signing on for when you accepted Christ, you have been thrown in the thick of a raging battle. We have a real enemy who has developed devious schemes not only to derail us from the track that God set out for us, but to completely and utterly destroy us. Every warrior must gird himself not with the physical armor of this world, but spiritual armor that God has forged for us. But once we have donned our armor, what do we then do?
This question has tortured me throughout the past few years as I have struggled to practically apply in my heart what I know in my head about spiritual warfare. Yes, I know there is a battle and that my survival depends on my ability to fend off spiritual assaults. Yes, I know the stakes are high. Yes, I know that the outcome of each skirmish is a step toward or away from my desired destination. But how and with whose strength do I wage war? As my enemies charge, do I wait for the Lord to crush them with hailstones from above, or do I have an active role in the fight?
I have searched the scriptures for the answer, and Ephesians 6 best represents the overwhelming message of the scriptures: "Be strong in the Lord and in HIS mighty power" and later, "Stand firm." The word "stand" emerges four times in this the most popular biblical passage on spiritual warfare. Even in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were told that "the Lord will fight for you," standing firm was a prerequisite to the Lord's deliverance (see Ex. 14, 2 Chr. 20).
So why is God so preoccupied with our standing? He certainly doesn't need our approval or help. He has all power at his fingertips, so why doesn't he just crush every adversary before it becomes a problem? The answer is that he wants to teach us how to be a warrior. He wants to lead us into the dominion he created us for. And most of all, he wants to teach us to trust his strength.
The book of 2 Samuel 23 lists the many exploits of David's mighty men, the 10th century BC's version of the special forces. One of these stories encapsulates the lesson of standing in the Lord's strength. Take a look:
11) When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel's troops fled from them, 12) but Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck down the Philistines, and THE LORD brought about a great victory that day.
Shammah was one man, but he knew he was fighting with a strength greater than the entire Philistine army--God's spirit. He could have fled like the rest of the army, but Israel's progress toward the Lord's purposes would have taken a massive step backward. He had strength enough to stand, and God took care of the rest.
May we be a people that, when all others flee, can be found still standing, waiting in eager expectation for the Lord's victory to be revealed.