"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you do not stand at all." -Isaiah 7:9
Six years ago I would have told you I had a good marriage. We had the normal issues of every couple, but I knew I was loved, that we were committed to each other, and that God was a central part of our lives. At least, that's what I thought I knew. It all changed one day as the word divorce was introduced into our 12-year marriage.
Everything I thought I knew and believed about this man began to crumple the moment he first uttered that option. I fought to understand where this was coming from, and how I could have become so detestable in his eyes that he'd ever consider throwing away what God had blessed us with. I desperately appealed to his common sense... and to the commitment to God's precepts I believed he held. But, what I discovered instead was an immovable force that made very little sense - the power of the human mind to drag a man away from everything he once held dear, and cause him to fully justify it.
As Christians, most of us have been taught that there is an unseen world – beyond viruses and bacteria -- that affects the seen world. We know that Satan prowls like a lion seeking whom he may devour. We know our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against an evil force we can barely wrap our minds around. Hearing the word spiritual warfare conjures up images of flannelgraph Roman soldiers with each piece of armor labeled truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, or word of God according to Ephesians 6.
We know we're in a fight for our souls, that eternity hangs in the balance, and that what we do matters. We swing our sword every direction hoping to take down the enemy. We thump our Bibles and point fingers at all the wrongs around us. We pray hard and hope desperately that Satan might be afraid of us enough to move on to bother someone else, preferably someone we think “deserves” it. But, when what seems to be happening in our lives doesn't feel good, and no amount of “living right” seems to make it better, waves of despair, resignation, weariness and fatigue threaten to undo us.
We seem to miss a key part in our role in the fight:
“…after you have done everything, stand firm.” Ephesians 6:13
After you have done everything you could do, just stand firm. When nothing seems to be happening, stand firm. When you are overwhelmed, stand firm. When the world is crumbling around you, stand firm. When it doesn't make sense, stand firm. Even if you can't see, can't plan it out, work it out, or shake it out, stand firm. The foundation of everything is to stand firm -- on the truth that God is God, and He purposes to redeem the lives of His creation.
Standing isn't just about remaining resolute in the midst of a season of suffering. It’s about remaining a testament of God’s grace until the end, when you are presented to Christ. It’s not about forcing change in the circumstances of your life; it’s about allowing God to change your heart in the midst of them. It’s not hinged upon a spouse, a child, a job, or a dream; it’s anchored to a Hope that does not disappoint.
Standing amounts to total surrender to God, no holds barred, no conditions, no demands. Not standing amounts to waving the white flag in the enemy's camp. In the case of my own marriage, like a teenager I mistakenly believed we were invincible and that standing loosely was good enough to protect us. But, Satan NEVER misses an opportunity to sneak in quietly and gently lead the unsuspecting soul to the slaughterhouse.
The experience has forced me to fiercely evaluate the footholds I was responsible for allowing Satan to have in our marriage. And it has also caused me to firmly question my own faith. Either God is big enough to protect, provide for, and deliver… or He isn't. And how we stand ultimately reveals which part of that we believe.
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