IBC eLetter, June 22, 2016

IBC eLetter, June 22, 2016

A couple weeks ago, the world said goodbye to a fighter. Now, make no mistake, I am a theater-loving, violence-eschewing, girly-girl who thinks boxing is decidedly NOT cute. The blood, the sweat, the brain damage — ew. Why? Someone must tell me WHY. But because I have always admired athletes in general (as an otherworldly species set apart from my own), how could I not give credit where credit is due? The Greatest WAS great. Could I not aspire to be like him in some way?

But if you stop to look at anyone for even the briefest second, you realize that we are all fighters. The three-year-old with a crayon and an agenda, the third-grader with his first chapter book and furrowed brow, the college student who throws off his covers, who dashes into the hallway, who makes the 8 a.m. class. The bully who faces off with a teacher and the teacher, arms crossed, heart-rate up, about to deal a decisive blow. What have you been fighting today?

But we forget we are in a fight. For some reason, it’s hard to behold. And I do mean the supernatural fight Paul talks about in Ephesians, “not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of this dark world”, but also the fight for joy, the fight for peace, the fight for meaning. Walking with God is not an accident. It is a decisive, tactical maneuver of the will. Ask, seek, and knock. Push, push, push. Punch, punch, punching our way through.

Not only am I NOT fighting to find Him, but I am fighting AGAINST finding him. I fight faithfulness, endurance, trust. I resist the callings of my better nature.

I think, recently, I’ve been operating under the falsity that walking with Jesus should come naturally and organically through my every day, like flowers “opening to the sun above.” That if he and his Spirit are real and if they dwell with me, it’s sort of up to them to manifest themselves in my life and that, once I sense their intervention and counsel, I will be able to latch on and go with them to the heights. But I think the truth is closer to what A. W. Tozer says: “We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.”

And all too frequently, I do not seek him. In fact, the very opposite is true. Not only am I NOT fighting to find Him, but I am fighting AGAINST finding him. I fight faithfulness, endurance, trust. I resist the callings of my better nature.

Why? Why do I do this? I think because I forget it’s a fight. I forget to see the ring, the ropes, the gloves. I forget my default setting = automatic God-resistance. I’m either fighting for or against him. Fighting to see the world as he sees it, or blatantly fighting his agenda. There don’t seem to be any ring-side seats. I think if I was more aware of this, I would redirect my aggression more often.

Gosh, all this violent talk. Feels a little out-of-character for my delicate, mannerly self, and it’s a lot to remember on any given Wednesday. But when all it takes is a bout of whining from my five-year-old to plunge me into gloom and bitterness, I realize something has gone very wrong. I’m knocked out before I knew what hit me.

Muhammad Ali himself saw similar reality in boxing: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

A private fight must be had, and won to some extent, long before we dance under our lights. So let us fight. Fight to FIND — to seek God, to obey, to accept — with a defiant wholeheartedness that latches onto His promise in Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

If you’d like, this prayer might be a way to start your fight today:

Lord Jesus, I fight you, I know.
Fight reality, fight endurance, fight faithfulness, fight contentment, fight trust, fight rest.
Instead of fighting you, help me to FIND you.
To dwell with you.
To remember that this, that You, are the only place worth being.
Help me to struggle into Now, into what is, into You Are.

Amen.

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