fighting the battles

Or perhaps better-titled, NOT fighting the battles, but rather learning how to effectively turn them over to the One who can win them all.

It’s a lesson I’m learning lately, and a tough one.

For all the information we have, all the pushes to be proactive and intentional in order to achieve what we want… how do we learn to simultaneously let it all go and entrust it into the hands of God?

I don’t have any answers, but I can describe the contrast between the days when I try to do life on my own strength, and the days when I acknowledge that I can’t, but He can. Struggling through the beginnings of a business has been a good experience for me. I’ve read many books and articles on various business topics in the past few weeks/months and there’s a lot of research and advice out there. There’s also a lot of business out there, and standing out from the crowd is challenging. I will confess that in many of my early business decisions and attempts to market a product, I was leaving God out of it. I kind of felt distanced from Him, wasn’t sure if He even wanted to be in it – because that’s hard too – knowing how important something so temporary like an earthly job really is in His eyes. I assumed that if I was going to make a go of Cotton & Corduroy, I was going to have to do it on my own.

Well, that has proven to be impossible. Fulfilling orders has been so stressful – wondering if they’ll fit right, wondering if I’m charging the right amount, ripping out seams and starting over and making mistakes so many times.

God has slowly been breaking me down to see that I need Him, and furthermore, that He wants to be a part of what I’m doing. Actually, He wants to be what I’m doing… and the rest will fall into place. Yesterday, an order came in that I didn’t have enough fabric for. Twice, I went to the computer to e-mail the customer and tell her that I just wasn’t going to be able to do it. Twice, something stopped me.

I read in II Kings 4 about the Elisha and the widow with the oil, and I knew… that He wants to be that for me. He is enough. He provides enough. There will be enough.

Next time I just need to buy more fabric, or take the garment off the site sooner, or something. But, there was enough. I have a finished garment. But that’s not really the point of the story. The truly amazing part of the story is the way I felt at the end of the day.

There had been some previous days that had ended with me completely stressed, exhausted, grumpy, snippy – fairly certain that this whole business was a failure and why did I ever think it would be a good idea? But yesterday was not that way. I folded up the garment, and I had the same doubts and insecurities as any other day… will it fit? Will the customer be pleased? Will it be perfect for that little one? But there was a peace inside of me that was completely different. It was a peace gained from knowing that He had provided, and that this was of Him. And that He knew I wouldn’t be able to order more fabric, because He wanted me to rely on Him, not some website, in order to make it happen.

So it was a battle I didn’t have to fight, because He took care of it. This was a relatively small battle. We’re also facing bigger ones, but I’ve been so encouraged today to find the Word opening to passages that reinforce this truth – that the battle is His. The first was this morning, in II Chronicles 20. If you’re facing a battle of any sort, just go read verses 13-22. It would be a lot for me to copy and paste here, but so many beautiful words. I especially love verses 15-17:

 15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.

In verse 16, it mentions that the enemy will be found “at the end of the brook, before the wilderness”. When we think of a brook, we think of it as a source of life and provision. A wilderness, on the other hand, is empty, vast, and desolate. Many of my battles take place when it seems that resources and provision have run out, and I’m looking at a scary place of emptiness. My battles take place at the end of the brook too. But it says “before the wilderness”. In other words, even though it maybe seems like we’ve already been wandering in the wilderness for a while – maybe we’ve still been along the brook without realizing it! God will fight those battles in anticipation of our need.

And so He promises, in verse 17: “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle… stand ye still.”

Stillness. Peace. Letting Him take over. Rest.

And then this evening at the supper table, the next story to be read in our Bible story book was the story of Joshua. It struck me tonight that the children’s song says “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho”… but we read the story and we know that that isn’t true. The title in our children’s Bible story book was much more fitting: A Wall Falls Down.

Joshua didn’t bring those walls down himself, and neither did the children of Israel. Instead, they listened and obeyed, trusted and waited, and the wall fell down. Yet another battle that didn’t need to be fought, but rather that needed to be entrusted into the hands of an almighty and all-knowing Father. It’s interesting – their “standing still” wasn’t actually “standing still” – but actually quite the opposite. It required a lot of planning and action. But it wasn’t anything that they had to think through really hard themselves. They just had to follow.

Having spent many days with my brain fully engaged in a variety of different things, I have to say that’s a very appealing thing to do – just follow. But I know, of course, that it is easier said than done. And so I regularly need a reminder. I’m so thankful that He’s faithful and patient, waiting until I realize that I’ve been walking in the wilderness for a long time, and the brook is nowhere to be seen. Waiting until I’ve run out of my own hope, and strength, and ideas, and resources. Waiting to fight for me.

“… for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

 

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