Sometimes that loneliness hits when I'm most thankful, most content, and most home. It's a sneaky kind of sadness and not altogether bad. I don't always know the trigger, but today I think I know where it came from. There are a million battlefields in each day - a million no man's lands and a million mercenaries with artillery and schemes and marching armies. The day is busted out with the millions of battlefields where fear and anger and unforgiveness and guilt do battle.
There is fighting in the waking up and fighting in the working day and fighting in the mind and fighting in the hands. It is not as trite as, "love is a battlefield," but it is as simple.
Today, I think that loneliness comes as I fight to believe the millions of battlefields in my life are fought on holy ground - ground claimed already by the victor.
I've run the scenario in my mind so many times it feels more like a memory and less like a very fearful picture of what I know would happen if I was ever a soldier. I imagine myself in all the military gear, jumping out of one of those boats on Saving Private Ryan, and running up the shore. I imagine carrying a heavy gun and worrying it would actually fire. I imagine forcing my desperate feet past the waves and onto the beach. Then, every time, as soon as I step on sand I pretend to be shot and start praying for a medic.
Even thinking about the scenario makes me both fearful and ashamed. I would never make a good soldier. But, there is something gloriously beautiful and different about the millions of spiritual battlefields in my days.
Victory on the spiritual battlefield does not depend on my strength or my bravery or my skills or my confidence or my foot speed on the sand.
I used to read 2 Peter 1 and say to myself, "See, we can live right. I can do it because God has given me all I need to do it." And I suppose it is not an about face, but more of a tilting of the head as I reconsider how God's promises are framed here. Tilt your head with me.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
His divine power, His knowledge, and His precious and very great promises. It is His battle and therefore His victory before I even step out of that boat. Only because His power is so great can we ever say, "For this reason..."
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:5-8)
I used to read this letter and believe it was a recipe for "not falling" because my Christian walk was a lot about "not falling." And, maybe it is. That's why I say it is more with a different tilt of my head that I read it this morning because I want God's divine power and precious promises to be in full view. I am walking out these supplements to my faith as I am carried by the knowledge of His glory and excellence. God has promised to sustain and fill and empower my soul into this delicious recipe of things and it is with eyes fixed on Him, believing His promises that produces fruit.
I am marching into millions of battlefields that have already been claimed by the victor. My footsteps are sure and confident not because of my skills but because I believe the One who already sounded the trumpets in victory celebration.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:9-11 ESV)
When I forget I am cleansed from former sins - that God's promises mean the grave and death and Satan's schemes no longer have a hold - I get nervous about the enemy and about my abilities. And I worry a medic will not find my cowardly, crouching frame in the sand.
Today, I think that the lonely feeling and the sneaky sadness are reminding me how desperately I don't want to forget the promises of my Savior. Moment by moment He holds out victory for the battles. He upholds me and with power stirs up His fruit-producing recipe in my life.
It is in believing He is already victorious that battles are rightly fought. We are fighting where victories already reign.