Showing Up

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army,…” 2 Chronicles 20:21

We are standing in a day of great turmoil. Ours is a land besieged by many enemies, all of which the Bible declares are not made of flesh and blood, but of dark powers and prinicipalities in the unseen realms. Whether the conflict lands in our own back yards, or is engaged on a wider plain – such as our church or city or nation – we who are called by the Name of Christ are enlisted for the war and expected to show up.

Do you know this about your life in Christ? That you are not only a daughter, but a warrior? Not just a bride, but a battle-bound citizen of another Kingdom? Unfortunately, comfort and convenience have lured many in our churches to believe that Christianity is more like a social event than a war. And thus, many live from day to day not only unequipped for the evils that confront us, but unaware that we are actually supposed to – and empowered to do something about them.

There is a popular verse I hear quoted often – and sometimes see written on merchandise designed to help us “rest” and relax. It says, scrawled across a coffee mug or portrait on the wall: “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” Or its counterpart: “You will not even need to fight. Stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord.” It is also commonly phrased, “God will fight for you, you need only be still.” I am guilty of reading that and being falsely assured that all is well and will be well, independent of my actions, so I am therefore free to go on enjoying my life.

Such a verse – removed from its context – reassures our hearts that all will be well, that God will take care of stuff while we just sit here and profess to trust Him. It’s a cozy picture, but not an accurate one. And meanwhile, we are losing ground to invading enemies creeping in from the left and the right.

The Scripture phrases above are actually from two different passages of Scripture. The context of both describes the people of God under fierce attack – attacks so great that the odds are overwhelmingly against them. We’re not talking about the pressure of mounting bills, or the wounding tongue of gossip and slander, or even the loss of a job or a loved one. All of these are troublesome, but not necessarily classified as demonic assaults. We will endure much suffering in our lives, for which God promises great wisdom, help and comfort – and for which we must do little more than pray and wait.

There is another level of warfare and attack, however, for which we are actually required to show up, even though God promises we will not have to actually fight. Exodus 14:14 and 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 are calls to do exactly that. While many wield these Scriptures as weapons excusing them from suiting up for battle, God has penned them to teach us that we must suit up and show up, and that as we do, we will see His promised victory.

In both passages of Scripture, God fights for His people to retain something He has given them. He has promised, and He now calls them to believe that what He’s given to them cannot be taken from them. Belief, however, looks like action on their part.

In Exodus, they must get up and move – following God into a journey that doesn’t appear to make a lot of sense. They must trust by obeying, and in the middle of a fierce enemy’s hot pursuit and a route that seems confusing, God assures them that they will see His hand bringing deliverance.

In 2 Chronicles, God’s people find themselves up against an army that has threatened to, again, take something God has given to them. Their first response is fear, which leads them straight to prayer. They run to God, and He answers quickly, telling them that He will fight for them. I love what this scenario teaches us on both the front and back ends of the battle. There is so much we can learn about what warfare truly looks like here.

First, we are reminded that what God gives, He defends. Many times, we pray for things we have not been promised, and wind up disappointed when God does not answer like we hoped He would. We tend to pray more for our fleeting desires more than our inheritance. Effective warfare is empowered by knowing what belongs to us in Christ. Our faith, our joy, our righteousness, our destiny, our family, our healing, our freedom from sin and its consequences, our peace, the territory He has appointed us to have authority in. These are worth warring for when the enemy comes to attack. And God declares in His Word that when the enemy comes for what our Father has given us, the battle belongs to the Giver. When the enemy comes to lay his hand upon a child of God, that battle is ultimately between the enemy and God. That should give us great confidence in our identity and in God’s Fatherhood.

Second, when the enemy approached, God’s people gathered together around God’s presence. They came with their entire families and community to fast and pray and seek God’s help. We fight too many battles alone and disconnected today. Our biological and spiritual families were made to war together. Does your family pray together? Do you have a prayer team at your church? If the answer is no to either question, maybe that’s the first step God would have you take in seeing your enemy defeated. Maybe God fighting for you will become a more visible reality when position yourselves in prayer to be active particpnts and witnesses. It is an invitation that is not meant to be declined.

Third, their version of “standing still” didn’t look like sitting on the couch surfing Netflix. It looked like praying and fasting and looking steadily at God until they heard Him answer. All other activity ceased. They recognized the threat was bigger than they could handle, and so they looked to the God Who was even bigger than the enemy. “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You,” they said (2 Chronicles 20:12). And they meant it. They lived in that space of moments or hours or weeks like they meant it. They didn’t just keep on about their business – the less trivial matters of their daily lives – and toss out a “God will do whatever He wants to do” or “God is in control.” They stood and gave their wholehearted attention to what God was doing. They participated. They positioned themselves as active and believing witnesses, because what was at stake was too great to leave in their peripheral vision.

Fourthly, we learn that when God says we won’t have to fight, He also says (or implies) that we are to take up our positions, to stand and watch, to go out and face what has come to threaten us (2 Chronicles 20:17). It is when we show up that we are best positioned to see God battling on our behalf. King David made the costly mistake of staying home in a time when Kings normally go to war (2 Samuel 11), and in his untimely leisure, he fell into great temptation and sin that cost him and his family dearly. Instead of warring against the enemy, sitting at home and not showing up to battle actually opened the door and gave away ground to the destroyer. God will fight for us, and we are to show up to see it. We are to remain active in the battle, even if it means we stand and sing.

That leads me to the last point I want to make about showing up for the battles we are trusting God to fight for us. We learn from King Jehoshaphat and his people in 2 Chronicles 20:18-23 that both a right response and a battle formation look like worship. After they looked to the Lord for help and waited intently to hear His answer, they responded to His promise to fight for them by humbling themselves in worship and singing praises to Him. Then, they lined up to show up and watch God fulfill His Word by positioning the singers – the worship leaders – to go out in the front of the battle line. As they worshipped, they watched God turn their enemies against each other and destroy themselves. God is enthroned in the praises of His people, and when we show up to the battles of our lives with hearts positioned in worship, we, too will see God do great and mighty things – things we could never see while watching Netflix or surfing the social media outlets.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, there are things which God has both promised and given to you which will come under great attack. May you be encouraged and awakened today to know that, though He will indeed fight for you, you are called to suit up and show up. You are called to be an active agent in the process. God longs to give us back everything the enemy has stolen and more, but we need to be present in order to receive it.

The place where God fought for His people became known as the Valley of Beracah, which means the Valley of Blessing. Contrary to what we might think, this is not because God blessed His people (though He did). It was so named because God’s people, standing in the space where victory was won for them, blessed the God Who fulfilled His promise. The Name was a seal over a scene given to remind us that, while God surely does His part, we, too, have a very important part in the battles of our lives. From beginning to end, we are to remain engaged and in a faith that actively endures.

There are great battles ahead, Beloved One. And you are called – not just to a comfy experience in the pew or in front of your livestream church service. The days of great darkness are upon us, and God is calling His church to mount up and march out against the enemy. No doubt He goes before us to display the might of His power, but we must be ready, and we must lift up our voices to declare His victory. Our faith must be active and we must be all in. There are no sideline teams in this hour.

May you and your family and your church family arise and go out to stand in the place to which God has called you. And may you see all that He has promised!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}


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