Monday, April 02, 2007

The Lion Waits

1 Peter 5:8-9
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

I want you to imagine something with me. You are standing in the midst of a picturesque meadow. The hills roll gently and you are surrounded by patches of birch and pine trees. The sky above is a brilliant shade of blue, and clouds roll past, meandering on to unknown places over the mountains in the distance. Squirrels chitter at one another from the trees, and birds sing comforting songs as they amble through the air in search of food. It’s a warm day, not quite hot, but cool enough that you are perfectly comfortable.

But not all things are lazy. You stand there surrounded by your countrymen, each dressed alike and armoured similarly. You carry your sword at your side with an air of knowledge. This is a scene you have seen before. As you take a closer look, you noticed you are joined by women and children, each armed and ready. Clearly, they know how to use the weapons that are strapped to their hips.

Then it starts. Like a mighty ocean wave, you push forward in unison, surging towards the shore of combatants. Chaos. You crash into the ranks of the other army, swinging your sword, garnishing your shield. You take arrows to the breastplate, swords clatter under feet and an axe clangs against your helmet. Disorientated for awhile, you get your bearings and realize that you’re lying flat on the ground. When you look up, you see many warriors fighting bravely onwards, despite being vastly outnumbers. No matter how many enemies surround them, no one can hit them. Their armour is dented and bashed, but intact. When your head swings the other way, you see some putting down their weapons surrendering.

But the strangest sight of all is right in front of you. You see a lion prowling across the field, and with each soldier he comes across, they seem completely unaware of their presence. Some of them are arguing if he even exists. The argument quickly ends when one of two lose their head as the lion drags them to the ground. It is then that it sinks in: this is no video game. You’re in a fight for your life. The lion sets his gaze upon you as you awkward rise to your feet. The question is, do you raise your sword, or lie back down?

How foolish does it seem to think of laying your sword down, or taking off your breastplate or your helmet when the fight rages on around you? Yet how many Christians do that each and every day. Fiji has thrust me right into the midst of a major spiritual conflict. In many ways, it is similar to North America, fierce. The difference is that there is no guise of peace here. Pick up your sword and fight, soldier.

You can imagine how ironic I find it, then that when I first arrived the book I read was “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti. Not all of you may be familiar with this work of fiction, but it tells the tale of a group of Christians struggling for their lives and paints an interesting picture of Angelic battle over the heart and soul of Ashton.

Your prayers are felt. Your encouragements remind me I am not alone. Your letters tell me I am in your thoughts. I am surrounded by warriors, both Christian and Heavenly. The enemy unseen to me, yet real all the same. This time has challenged me greatly, and it has brought moments when I wondered if I could carry on another step. When you suffer from great disappointment, loneliness, spiritual oppression and discouragement all at the same time, it is hard to see the light. When your relationships suffer and you don’t know how it will turn out, you want to turn back. When it seems that your entire mission was pointless, you want to give up.

When all hope is lost, God reminds you that you are in a battle. The Devil is prowling the face of the earth looking for a soul to devour. Put on your armour and pick up your sword, it is time to do battle.

No comments: