Battling Giants

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Fifty-nine pages and counting. No, not my next Christmas letter, though I have been known to go beyond the usual page or two that most people write for a holiday missive…and not the beginning of that book I think I might like to write some day. Fifty-nine handwritten pages in a green spiral notebook…8 ½ x 11 inches…very narrow-lined…fifty-nine pages of work. Personal work. Painful work. Enlightening work. Difficult work. Necessary work. Not-yet-finished work.
If you read my first two or three blogs, you may think that though I have had some struggles in my life, I have climbed the mountain and now stand at the summit looking back over the hard path behind me, and forward toward that “spacious place” David writes about in Psalm 18:19. After all, I said that God came after me when I was determined to stray, and that I am now back in the flock, so to speak. So, it must be green pastures and still waters at this point, right? It is true that I benefit from the Great Shepherd’s care and protection, but you know that line in Psalm 23, “He restores my soul?” Well, if you’ve ever refinished a piece of furniture, remodeled a home, or revamped a room, you understand that restoration takes a lot of time…and a lot of work. In my case, fifty-nine pages of work…and counting…fifty-nine pages of journaling, of writing out answers to questions, of exploring a great struggle in my life. Okay, I’ll stop being cryptic and make the great confession…I am journaling in conjunction with a book I have been reading…Hope, Help, & Healing for Eating Disorders. There it is. I have an eating disorder that is sucking the life out of me, and by the grace of God I am determined that this giant in my life will go the way of Goliath…conquered never to instill fear in me again…a foe completely dead…and an area of my life restored.
You have no idea how hard it was to just type that…how vulnerable I feel confessing that I struggle with an eating disorder…but it’s the truth. And, if there is one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s that there is healing to be had in stating truth. Make no mistake; the fact that it’s a statement of truth does not make it less scary to admit. Maybe that makes it more scary. Maybe you will think less of me if you know my secret struggles and personal failures. And it’s not easy to say that I want to conquer this struggle completely either…not just keep it at bay. What if I fail? What if my aim isn’t as keen as the shepherd boy, David’s, when I let that stone fly toward my giant? Then I have not only confessed my struggle, but I have also failed to prove the power of my savior to rescue me from it. That really scares me.
But my giant is just as real as that towering Philistine, and my God is the same God who was with David the day he felled that taunting, jeering, fear-instilling nightmare of a foe. If you recall, David was incensed because Goliath was not just taunting the Israelite army, he was taunting their God…Jehovah…the great “I AM.” (See 1 Samuel 17) I think my “giant” does the same thing. If God lives in me through the Holy Spirit, then any assault on me is an assault on God…we cannot be separated. Isn’t that what it says in Romans 8:35-39? Verse 35 says, “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” You could just say, “Who can separate us from Christ?” The following verses go on to say that no one, and nothing in our tangible world or in the spirit world, can do that…I am inextricably connected to my Jesus. Therefore, an assault on me is an assault on my God…and I should be just as incensed about that as David was…and just as sure of victory.
I’ll tell you right here…I am no David. I have not fought off lions and bears. It makes me queasy just to step on a large spider, for Pete’s sake! I am not full of youthful optimism, and fearless is not a word you will find on my personal resumè. And on top of all that, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a slingshot or anything else. But I am a child of the great and living God that David writes about so eloquently in the Psalms. I have experienced God’s love and grace. I do know His care and tenderness. I have seen His power and strength. I know so many of His promises. So why is it so hard for me to imagine that God can do miraculous things in my life, just like He did for the people we read about in our Bibles? They were people just like us! They were flawed, sinful, messed up people just like I am. I know that some might say that “that was then and this is now” and that God did things differently “back in the day.” But my Bible is full of miracles and power and victories from beginning to end…and I have no reason to think that what I see in those precious pages is somehow different than what is possible now. My giant is just as real as Goliath! So what gives? Why is it so often that we slog through life, barely holding on, keeping our giants at bay instead of slaying them, and living defeated lives rather than victorious, joyful ones? Why is it so often that we look a lot more like the terrified Israeli army, and a lot less like the courageous shepherd boy, David?
God has been addressing this issue with me, while I address my eating disorder, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of it comes down to duplicity. When James refers to “a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways” in James 1:8, the word “double-minded” means, “of a divided heart.” I always thought it just meant someone who doubted. But that’s not what it means at all. It means a man who suffers from duplicity…from divided loyalties. So just how serious am I going to be about Jesus? Am I willing to stake everything on Him and stop hedging my bets…trusting in other people, plans, or things…stop wishing, like the Israeli army did, that something would change, even if I don’t? If so, I am going to have to take stock and see where my true loyalties are…and I’m going to have to make changes where I find that I am depending on someone or something else other than Christ to meet my needs…to fight my battles, and to defeat my foes. That might be a friend I go to when I should go to God in prayer…or it might be that late-night snack I go to for comfort after a rough day that makes me feel better in the moment, but that in the long run damages both my body and my spirit…maybe it’s a spending spree that supplies me with “new stuff,” when what I really need to do is deal with my “old stuff.” Then I am going to have to decide what it is that I really want. Do really I want to defeat my giants, or do I find some satisfaction in blaming them when I fail to advance. Am I comfortable sitting in camp because it’s effortless, or am I willing to fight until a victory is won? What is really going on and what do I really want to do about it?
We all have our giants. Satan knows where our weak spots are and that’s the place where he attacks. He knows that I love food…not just eating it, but also preparing it, sharing it, and conversing over it with family and friends. I enjoy the community of sharing meals, or coffee and a piece of dessert over conversation with those I love. Food is a blessing from God…it’s meant to be enjoyed. Isn’t that just like Satan too…to take something so good and twist it around into something he uses to defeat me? But the food is just the weapon…it’s not the enemy. Satan is the enemy…so I have to deal with him…he’s the one that needs to be defeated in this area of my life. Here’s the kicker… he’s already lost the war…Jesus made that clear through His crucifixion and resurrection…but Satan isn’t going to give up any battle if he thinks he has a chance to render God’s own warriors ineffective. If you looked into 1 Samuel 17, and read the account of David and Goliath, you might have noticed that the entire Israeli army was scared spitless of this towering, vile, insulting, jeering giant. He tormented them daily…and I am sure that as the days rolled by any hope or courage the troops had, rolled right by with them. And then. Then one teenager stepped up and refused to doubt the God he had developed a close relationship with (and that is key), and dared to take a stand. It says that Goliath took one look at David and despised him…what kind of an opponent was this kid? It wouldn’t even be a fight and Goliath didn’t’ hesitate to say so with curses. Sometimes I hear my own foe saying the same thing…and I have to tell you, I feel pretty small in those moments. But what did David do? He spoke directly to that giant in the name of the Lord Almighty, spoke truth about that giant’s demise at God’s hand…and then it says “David ran quickly” toward the battle line to meet Goliath and let that stone fly. That blows my mind! David ran toward the very thing that was determined to do him in, kill him outright! But note, David went in the name of the Lord…not trusting anything else…not asking the army to back him up…not with fear and trembling, but with confidence and courage placed squarely in his God. And that giant went down…and David finished Goliath off with his own sword! Wow! What a story! But that’s not quite the end…
The following verses say that the rest of the Philistine army, seeing their hero dead, turned and ran….and that the Israeli army pursued them, chasing them back to their own cities, leaving the way strewn with the dead, and then the Israelis plundered the Philistine camp. I think this is pretty significant. If I can stand up to my giant in the name of my God, and realize victory, how might that affect those watching? Maybe someone who had been demoralized and defeated by a giant (the same one or a different one) will suddenly take heart and find the courage to pursue their own enemies. Maybe, when we are transparent in our battles, God can use us to encourage others. Maybe seeing God at work in my life, will help someone else believe that He can and will work in theirs too.
So, that’s why I’m willing to tell you, that I have a green spiral notebook sitting by my sofa. A notebook with fifty-nine hand-written pages…a notebook that isn’t complete yet…sitting next to a book that I am working through…which sits next to the most important book I own, my Bible.
“Oh God, we have heard it with our own ears. Our ancestors have told us of all you did in their day, in days of long ago: You drove back the pagan nations by Your power and gave all the land to our ancestors. You crushed their enemies and set our ancestors free. They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strong arm that gave them the victory. It was Your right hand, and Your strong arm, and the blinding light from Your face that helped them, for you loved them. You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by Your power can we push back our enemies; only by Your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; You disgrace those who hate us. Oh God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.” -Psalm 44:1-8 (NLT)

By | 2017-02-20T04:50:58+00:00 September 11th, 2015|Over Tea|0 Comments

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