this Christian life, probably always has been and probably always will be. Advance, get attacked, fall, recover, rest, rejoin the fight. Every day, all the time.
Sometimes I wonder if people really understand this. Sometimes I wonder if I do. Imagine how things would be if we told people “Welcome to the Faith and be ready because sometimes all hell is going to break loose, literally.” Yet you know that when you try to live in one world while residing in another that sometimes things are just not going to be easy.
Strangely enough simple, straight forward, opposition is possibility the least difficult things to handle. It’s not pleasant but you know who and where its coming from and why it’s happening. The lines of battle are clear and the you know who has what flag. So much harder is when the push back against your life in Christ comes from the twisting of the good, the realm of shadows where things appear different from what they really are, and lies that sound sincere. That’s a different kind of struggle entirely and while the aim is the same as a full frontal assault the treachery involved makes it seem so much more difficult and dangerous.
In ways beyond counting the world we live in, although it has moments of beauty and wonder, is full of pathology and that pathology has become so normalized that health is perceived as an illness, light is considered darkness, and truth is a lie to be exterminated. In a world such as this we will struggle in the attempt to be a person of a different and better world. Sometimes we will fall, wounded and disfigured in the heat of this battle, this challenge to live as Christ in a world twisted by sin.
It can be very difficult to be vigilant all the time, to have our guard up, to stay awake on every watch in the night. Sleep can overtake us. Fatigue can get the best of us. Confusion can do its work and disorient us. Sometimes the pure shock, awe, and horror of things can leave us cowering under what ever shelter, good or bad, that seems close at hand. This, too, is part of the Christian life, the life of a Kingdom in time, a heavenly reality in a pained world.
What we have, though, in the face of all of this, is grace. We fall and God will lift us up again. We struggle and God extends, as it were, a hand to help. We doubt and God gives us faith. We are humbled and God meets us in our humility. We sin and God forgives and makes clean. We taste the bitter darkness and God finds a way to fill it with light. We die and God will raise us up again.
How I wish that I could be only a fraction of what I am called to be. How I desire not to fall in the heat of battle, to lose my head in the swirl of life, or to be caught in traps I’ve been caught in a hundred times before. As the Apostle says “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Yet, even in all my messiness, my sins, my self-inflicted wounds, and every moment when I am cut down on the field, I still come back. Grace, God’s grace, calls me back, picks me up, cleans my wounds, strengthens me in my weakness, and calls me to engage life as a citizen of a Kingdom not of this world. Until that day when I can finally rest from the strife this is all I have, this is all I claim, and this is all I need.