After a long week of stress, and relentless pain due to chronic heartburn, which I think was stress-induced, my dear friend did me the kindness of inviting me to his home to spend some time away from my home. This meant that he would have to cancel some plans, and, I was welcomed to join him in those plans– in fact, my presence was “requested,” but I truly wasn’t well. I genuinely appreciate that he was more than willing to cancel and take care of me instead. Going out was a rare occurrence for me these days. I’ve grown to prefer spending my time at home for several reasons, but I won’t get into that now. I am like wallpaper in a vintage house; some wear, some tear, many marks and cracks, and ultimately stuck indoors.
Needless to say, it was nice being away. He even allowed me to bring my dog Ben with me, which Ben loved! This trip appealed to his sense of adventure, always seeking to explore new horizons and experience new things. Ben can be a wild card, full of surprises and occasionally unpredictable. But tonight, I started noticing a pattern with Ben’s playing habits. While he was darting back and forth, urging someone to chase him or engage in a quick game of tug-o’-war, I could see God’s hand in that moment.
Ben’s behavior of playing for long stretches of time, then suddenly taking a moment to urinate, then continuing to play, just to suddenly take a moment to drink and re-hydrate, then playing more, to finally stop, relax, and rest for a period of time so he can get back to playing at full strength again– it revealed that God was telling me I need to be more like that when it comes to spiritual warfare. I have this nasty habit of getting too physically drained to pray as I ought to, too mentally exhausted to read the Word, and too emotionally and spiritually tired to resist the devil. When that happens, I’m at my weakest. The enemy knows that, and I’m consistently placed in these situations where I receive so much negativity, that sometimes I buckle under the weight of it all with my un-Christ-like responses. Actually, it’s more like I become so distracted and busy carrying the wrong weight (the weight that Satan has placed on my shoulders), that I foolishly decide to set down the right weight, which God has offered to help me carry. When this happens, I feel this overwhelming sense of loneliness that leads me to sin and misbehave in a desperate attempt to feel less stressed. So, as I watched Ben demonstrate how believers should behave, I analyzed every step.
Ben’s playing is the fight, the run, our walk with Jesus Christ. We must fight! We must run the race, and keep our minds fixed on the goal of completing the race (Hebrews 12:1-3). We have to fight the good fight, we have to finish the race (2 Tim. 4:7). I read Pulpit Commentary regarding 2 Timothy 4:7, which beautifully describes the race we’re meant to run as believers. Essentially, it says the race will be a long and eventful one. And that there will be much difficulties, conflicts, dangers, and temptations, but believers must keep the faith of Jesus Christ. Believers, like Peter, must keep their faith in Christ “inviolable, unadulterated, whole, and complete.” This is the race we run; the race which is to live the Christian life, which can only be done by God’s grace. This race begins the moment you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Let it Go
When Ben takes his pee-break, it’s not simply because he’s tiny, with an equally tiny bladder. I believe in that moment, it signifies the believer’s need to let something go, to release something or everything, and to give it all to God. C.S. Lewis once said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” I’m sure you’ve heard it said that the best way to release something is to ‘stop thinking’ or something like that. On the contrary, I think if you want to let something go you have to think. You have to remind yourself to trust God, and actively pour out your heart to Him, because God is our refuge (Psalm 63:8). Your mind should be steadfast, set on things above (Colossians 3:2). So don’t just focus on any corrosive thoughts, keep your mind on the things of God, Heavenly things. You can’t move on in the run until you release whatever is hindering you from moving forward. After that, we can keep moving forward in the fight, we can keep running.
Then, when Ben pauses to drink water, this is a believer’s need to pause and drink that “living water,” (John 4:10) which is Jesus, to replenish our soul. As scripture says, whosoever believes in Christ Jesus, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Later, in Revelation 21:6-8, God promises an inheritance to His faithful believers, which is water from the spring of the water of life. He warns all others: the cowardly, the unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, immoral persons, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars that they will experience the second death. The inheritance is for the children of God, those who are faithful believers on His son, Jesus. To be a believer on Christ, you have to believe what He says, and how He lived. Believers are called to walk in Christ’s footsteps, and to be just like Him. And to be more like Christ it’s absolutely necessary that we take time from our busy lives to commune with God, read His word, and saturate ourselves in the Truth. Drinking the living water is being filled with the Truth about who God is, who we are to Him, and living in that Truth. In this, we will be proper children of God, joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and persistent in prayer (Romans 12:11-12). From here, we continue on in the run, and we keep pushing forward.
Time to Rest
Last, when Ben becomes too tired to continue playing, when he can’t run at the same speed, or bite with the same strength, it’s time to rest. We believers know that even God rested, and ordained for a Sabbath Day (a day of rest). Rest is crucial to winning this race. We need to rest and regain our strength through Christ, who strengthens us. Rest does not imply stopping. Truly, you must maintain your hope and faith in your time of rest, that is continual. By doing so in the Lord, you will renew your strength, and soar on wings like eagles; you will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). This God-ordained rest is a time for worship, to acknowledge God, and allow the Word to live through you.
So be more like my dog, Ben, in this spiritual war. Be eager and determined to continue the race to the finish, consistently letting go of those things that are holding you back, thirsty for the Lord, and occasionally taking time to rest and recuperate. Don’t let yourself become too tired. Don’t let the enemy exhaust you, and make you unwilling to even walk in this race. You don’t have to be the fastest runner, or the most skilled runner, you need stamina and the willingness to seek God to learn how to remain on course. It is written, “Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). You can do it!
By Dania Mercier