Wars are being waged around me. Everywhere I look, I see the darkness and carnage that only war can bring. As I’ve navigated the treacherous landmines of my own battlefield, I’ve found myself glancing to my right and to my left and seeing the battlefields of my friends and family. War is everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times in your life when you have to go to war with your own flesh. One of my friends says that sometimes looks like the Lord squeezing everything out of us that doesn’t look like Jesus. And sometimes? Sometimes that just looks like war. As hard as some of these times have been, I’m thankful for the pieces of my own dying flesh I see littering the ground. Each piece of dead flesh represents a specific area in my life that didn’t look anything like Jesus. My Papa, the Great Physician, skillfully and carefully wielded his scalpel, surgically removing those decaying places out of me. He tossed those pieces by the wayside so they would no longer encumber me. He got rid of them so I’m able to look a little more like Jesus. And for that I’m thankful. But just because He’s a skilled surgeon doesn’t mean there was no blood shed in the process.
But sometimes? Sometimes war finds you straight in the midst of the chaos and confusion that can only be an attack from the enemy. Flaming arrows whiz past you, lighting in their intended targets, the places where the enemy knows he can do the most damage – your relationships, your hopes and dreams. You smell the acrid smell of smoke as it rises and fills the air around you. You pick up your weapons, stretch out your arm, pull back the arrow, and aim for your target… this is battle. This is war.
There are times when you walk out of those battlefields with your arms raised up in praise, knowing the Lord has brought deliverance and victory. These are the times when you’ve been able to put a stake in the ground, claiming new territory as your own. The times you’ve drawn a line in the sand and screamed at the enemy, "YOU CAN'T COME ANY CLOSER."
And then there are the times when you turn around and catch a glimpse of the enemy trying to sneak back in and advance on your territory. Completely caught off guard, you pick up the armor you’ve just laid down and prepare for battle again. You fling your broken and busted up body over your relationships and your hopes and dreams, arms and legs outstretched like human armor in an attempt to cover exposed areas of weakness and vulnerability. Completely taken by surprise, you realize the battle isn’t over yet.
Early last week, I found myself in exactly such a place. I was completely disoriented when I sensed attack in an area where I’d already seen victory. I felt that the situation demanded I take up arms and prepare to fight. I found myself talking to the Lord early one morning and telling Him what all I thought I needed to do and laying out my plan before Him. (Yeah, I know. Ridiculous now that I think about it. What I needed to do? MY plans?) I kept asking Him over and over, “What do you think, Lord?” And time and time again, I was met by silence. Deafening silence.
I spent a day or two hearing nothing but complete silence from Him in this area. One morning, I woke up completely frantic. I said “God! What is our battle plan here? What do I need to do?” It was then that I finally heard Him speak: “Be still.” I remember shaking my head, panicking, and thinking “BE STILL? In the middle of WAR?” He nudged me gently and said, “Remember me telling you last week to be still? I meant it. Be still.” I sat there, dumbfounded. I still didn’t quite grasp the concept of sitting still in the middle of a battle. He had to have sensed my confusion because a few seconds later I heard Him say, “Brave girl, lay your weapons down.” If you know me at all, you know I’m a verbal processor and I had to keep talking to gain understanding. “But Lord,” I said, “I need to fight for this. I know I need to fight.” And like the patient, loving Father that He is, He reminded me, “You don't need to fight. I’ve already told you this isn’t your battle. I’ve got this. Let me do the fighting. Be still. Lay your weapons down. Trust that you’ll see victory in this.”
Later that morning, my spirit was still in a state of unrest. I knew I needed to spend some more time with Him. I was listening to a random Bethel playlist on YouTube while I was reading my Bible and journaling when a song filtered through that I’d never heard. The first few lyrics stopped me dead in my tracks:
The war is over, turn around
Lay your weapons on the ground
I stopped what I was doing and sat and listened through tears.
He has made a way for us
Born for glory out of dust
Children held within the arms of peace
He has made a way for all
Mercy waits where sinners fall
He is our Victory
It is finished.
It is done.
The blood of Jesus overcomes
It is finished.
He has won.
He has won.
After I *mostly* pulled myself together, I sent a link to the video to my friend Morgan. I was like “This is a new one I haven’t heard! I bet it’s gonna be on the new album!” And sweet Morgan was like, “That’s the one they did at the Worship Night we went to that I kept talking about!” Ummmm… yeah. Apparently I was on the floor crying or journaling or something when they did this song and completely missed it. Like I don’t remember it at all. Isn’t it funny how the Lord works? I know for sure He kept that song for this time when He knew I’d need to hear it most.
I’ve spent the past several days being still and trusting the Lord for victory, and this song has not been far from my mind or lips. He’s been faithful to bring it to mind every time I start to feel anxious, and He’s ministered to me and taught me so much through it.
The war is over.
Those places I thought were victorious but then found the enemy sneaking in to stir up the battle again? They completely caught me off guard. But God? He sees all and knows all. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is never caught off guard by a surprise attack. There’s no battle being fought in our lives that He isn’t intimately familiar with. And there’s no outcome of any battle that hasn’t already been won for us. You heard me right – there’s always victory available in any battle we face. When He was on the cross, He fought every battle we will fight. He won victory for us on the cross.
Lay your weapons on the ground.
So many times I’ve wanted to pick up weapons that were never mine to hold in the first place. And when we aren’t used to holding these weapons that were never intended for us to use, we can’t stand up under the weight of them. We fall trying to fight a battle that was never ours to fight in the first place. All He asks us to do is cease striving. To simply rest in His might. To trust Him to be the God that only He can be. He’s God. And He’s good at being God.
It is finished, it is done. The blood of Jesus overcomes. It is finished, He has won. He has won.
I’m so thankful for the finished work of the cross. The work that restored mankind to God. The work that defeated death and the grave. The work that tore the veil so I can walk in daily communion with Him.
I love the redemption of the cross, but somehow I think I’ve managed to get it completely wrong for years. There have been countless times I’ve faced a lost battle, a dead dream, an unanswered prayer, a broken relationship, or a nagging sin and with a half-hearted laugh said, “Well there’s nothing His blood can’t redeem.”
No. That’s not it. That’s not it at all. There’s nothing that His blood hasn’t redeemed. The cross was final. When the blood poured out of his beaten, pierced, and mangled body, it wasn’t just to cover the lost battles, dead dreams, unanswered prayers, broken relationships, and nagging sins of the day He died on the cross. The blood covered it all. The past, the present, the future. Mine. Yours. Everyone’s. And because of His blood, we get to live in victory. We are victorious because He was victorious for us.
I still don’t know the outcome of this particular battle, but I’m trusting in the victory He promised me. I know Him to be the God who keeps His promises and the God who finishes what He starts. No promise to me will return void. I’m victorious because He is victorious.