We are a culture of non-confrontational people.
We may think we like to meet conflict head on. But really, any pursuits of reform or change we participate in tend to be impersonal. We don’t like to risk change. We tremble when we think of risking our fragile, breakable ideals of self-worth with the truth. We shy away from upturning our perceptions of normalcy with what the Lord calls us to pursue instead.
But what if a life lived for God is naturally a life of conflict?
Sure, a Christian life rife with conflict can take the form of outer conflict both in relationships or among politics or in any other physical form; but what I’m referring to right now is inner wrestlings. Inner conflict.
At first, my soft, security-loving self jerked away from the viscerally harsh evocations of such a theme as “Run Towards the Fight”. I was close to discarding the words for another theme – softer words – that came to mind. But I had already written those initial words, “Run Towards the Fight”, on my calendar in permanent marker.
As such, I couldn’t really turn back.
And perhaps that’s just what He intended.
As always, my musings are INCREDIBLY influenced by my time in God’s Word. Here’s what I studied on my own this month:
- Proverbs 31
- Psalms 112-130
- Matthew 11:28-30
- 1 John
- Ephesians 4:21-24
- 1 Timothy
- Romans 7:15-20
- Isaiah 40:3-5
I also have some songs that have either spoken to my heart, challenged me, or just plain made me wanna jump up and dance!
- “Surrender” by Canyon Hills Worship
- “Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman
- “Nothing Else” by Cody Carnes
- “On and On” by Canyon Hills Worship
- “Crazy About You” by Plumb
- “Hold You Tight” by Dan Bremnes
Now without further ado, I give you my musings – and in turn, what the Lord has been teaching me this month.
7/1: “‘Many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’ Luke 13:24
Many seek to follow You by taking the easy road. By indulging in popular Christianity. But You call me to a higher road.
So many things in life are a battle. Whether a war between will and want within my own heart, or a battle with other people in my life, battles are everwhere. Yet I so often find myself retreating from the front lines.
Yes, there are some battles that don’t need to be fought; but many do. Such as the battle against lies. Or the battle of making sure people know they matter, regardless of their circumstances. Or the battle of spending time in silence when noise is more appealing. Or of being diligent and faithful when checking out is more convenient.
Lord Jesus, help me to not retreat. These battles are worth fighting.
Help me steward instead of own. Help me believe what I know. Help me welcome beyond invitation. Keep my lamp alight, Father, in the knowledge that You are growing and supporting me every step of the way.”
7/2: “I’m still discovering who I am, Lord God. Help me learn to live with integrity. Help me learn to live always trusting You as my firm foundation. I can choose to do hard things, love difficult people, and show others they matter because I know running into such battles is not in vain, and I can look upon them with triumph, knowing that with You – Awesome God – nothing is wasted. Hallelujah.”
7/3: “There’s an undercurrent in society. A rhythm we’re drawn into. Help me stir up the water. I don’t want to fall into a passionless succumbence to mundanity, as so many have.
We so often run from the thick of our own messiness, but You – from on high – involve Yourself. Help me be so in awe of Your presence that I want anyone to know about You, no matter the implications of such a conversation.”
(I wrote the following at church summer camp)
7/6: “Strength and song, You turn mourning to dancing and ensure our triumph. So I can live fearless. You are on my side. Walk with me as I explore new horizons and do sometimes scary things; including vulnerability. These things may be hard, but they’re not impossible. Helper and salvation, walk with me!”
7/7: “Tonight, Lord, in tears, I realized that when I first accepted You – when we started – You were a mystery to me. You still are in some ways. But I knew one thing for sure: I needed You. I didn’t know why exactly or how, but I just knew I did. And somehow along the way I’ve put things ahead of simply needing You. Bring me back to where we’ve started, Lord. Help me need You, only You, like before. Nothing can take the place of simply Your presence.”
7/8: “I’ve been and done so many bad things lately. I’m sorry, Lord. Please forgive me. Help me abide in You, that I may no longer have any shame; that I may stand before You in confidence. I don’t know what’s to come, but I know You do. Prepare both my heart and the hearts of other for whatever transformation You desire.”
7/10: “There was a lot of real-talk, sometimes tough to hear moments of truth in this week, but that isn’t bogging me down. That excites me towards the possibilities. Help me honor You, Jesus. I love You. Bring revival in me!”
7/10 (cont’d): “Thank You for the precious time I had at camp to look back at my roots to deepen my presence in the now, putting to death my fears and worries and the ‘what-ifs’ within them.
Help my conversations, realizations, and learning to not stop today. Don’t let me become lazy and pull back what is rightfully Yours. Keep me on the straight and narrow, Lord. Help me seek after holiness with courage and consistency, not complacency.”
(I wrote the following while counseling at my church’s kids camp)
7/12: “Lord, help me consumed with longing for Your commands; as though longing for order and discipline is a lost art, it is rewarding. Help me delight in obedience, and teach others to do the same.”
7/13: “God, help me spend time pondering or even simply reading Your Word. Many things are vying for my attention right now, and I can only give them my whole heart if I let it get big enough, by Your power, to give from.”
7/16: “Help me turn my heart towards You and find my satisfaction in You. Help me obey You because I love You. Before I can fight any earthly battles well, the battle against my own desires and feelings must be won first. I want to sit at Your feet. Teach me, O Lord. Help me prioritize and focus on what is necessary and true.”
7/17: “I clung to Your promises in my deeper afflictions. Do I still? Do I still rely on Your Word for all understanding, or does pride get in the way? I am just as in need of You now as I was then.”
7/18: “Lord Jesus, after this evening, I’ve realized that I tend to turn to the wrong things for rest and recharge. Help me seek You instead, Lord. I often feel so inadequate – so unlovable. Help me see myself rightly, that my actions may reflect my full potential.
I have a yearning to be used by You. To make a difference. But I also don’t allow You to light my path as I should. Does following You lead to joy in my heart, or does the outcome/result? Do I just want You, or the culturally expected spoils of modern Christianity? The cushion of comfortable culture, or a drive to obey no matter the cost? Help me respect Your statues as much as Your grace.
I’ve asked You for a lot because I hunger for a lot – for depth, meaning, joy… and I know where to find such. I know I am far from an obedient child, but I also know You work miracles. Create in me a clean heart; change me.
You are worth changing for.”
7/19: “Help me hold onto faith and keep the compass of my mind pointed in the right direction as I endeavor to fight the good fight: the ones that matter. The ones between my feelings and my calling, my tendencies and my direction. My flippant acknowledgement and gratitude.”
7/20: “I am but a vessel for the opposing forces of You and sin within me; and so I must hold on for the ride. I mustn’t be discouraged. I must cling tight to Your words and heart to stay afloat – and not only that, but to swim.
I think my desire for a perfect, without-conflict story has kept me from fully embracing life, cracks and all. But there’s no such thing as a story without flaws, really; unless one wants to be bored out of their mind.”
7/23: “So often I get busy doing things for others to lead them towards salvation that I forget Your sovereign power in it all. Help me pray first and do second. You can do far more in the lives of people than I ever could. And the ‘mystery of godliness’ and the all-encompassing hope of the gospel is worth sharing.”
7/26: “Thank You for helping me fight some of the festering battles in my heart this month. Continue helping me fight the good fight of faith, growing in godliness.”
7/31: “You didn’t forgive us that we may take advantage of grace, but instead that we would grow in reverence for You. I believe I have this month. I’ve grown in knowledge, maturity, capacity…
You’ve cleared new ground in this journey I’m on by Your incredible grace. Thank You for reaching inside of me and pulling out the disturbances roiling within my soul; such that I might learn to enjoy You and the life You’ve given me more through a deeper respect for You and confidence in Your presence. Thank You for fighting for me.”
We live in an age where people are increasingly confrontational, aggressive and passionate; and yet at the same time, are less and less willing to confront the truth about their own hearts. It’s become easy to ignore one’s inner struggles and keep pretending – looking to change the world in every single way except through changing oneself first.
Truly, if we are going to do anything to change the world outside of us, we must first be prepared to confront the dirty things in our own soul. Our own sinful desires and brokenness. It is not until we are willing to see ourselves as we really are that we can even consider helping others in the most wholehearted manner possible.
This month I’ve had a lot of time to reflect over my personal struggles and inner conflicts, and I believe that confronting those and beginning to work through them has fulfilled my theme of “Run Towards the Fight”.
It’s a piece of cake – almost expected, even – in our aggressive world to run towards advocacy or other forms of supporting widespread conflicts. From equality to policy to international aid, there’s no shortage of issues to fight about. And I’m not claiming it’s bad to debate these things…
But what about our hearts, minds, and souls? Aren’t they just as important?
What about the whispers that echo in our minds long after our day of working is over?
What about the regrets, hurt, and shame that linger beyond our attempts to nullify or correct our wrongdoing?
What about the hidden secrets that nobody but you and God know about?
Shouldn’t they be confronted just as earnestly as service and advocacy are pursued?
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
1 Timothy 1:5
Before we can love and serve others honestly, we must first have a clear conscience and a pure heart. I challenge everyone to look inside of your hearts for a moment. Is there any unacknowledged clutter that quietly gnaws away at you? Everybody has some.
Here’s what I suggest you do with yours:
First, bring it to God. Acknowledging that you have a problem that you can’t fix alone is the first step. And then, perhaps after a while, He will stir in your heart a desire to be real with other trustworthy people in your life. That’s great! I remember feeling unable to talk about about my particular struggle for a long time; but over time the Lord stirred in my heart, which I was able to satisfy this month through baring pieces of my soul to those I trust.
Sadly enough, we Christians have created a hierarchy concerning what sins/struggles are most acceptable. If one struggles with anxiety, people’s responses may be of less shock than, perhaps, someone who struggles with lust. But even so, don’t let that stop you from telling the truth and fighting even the hardest battles in your soul.
After all, God has already secured our victory, hasn’t He?
Confrontation is the first step to healing. We as Christians must choose to participate in such; especially in our souls. After all, Jesus wasn’t afraid of voicing the truth – even when it wasn’t the most popular opinion, or seemed too strange or contrary to common culture’s narrow minds.
So will you speak the truth? Will you choose to be authentic, and confront your own wrestling heart? Will you trust Him to fight for you? I hope so. The world at large would be made better at such a choice.
Because if you plan to change the world for Him, your impact begins with you.