We lived in the most humble house on the block. The house across from our driveway was worth over a million dollars. Ours was not. Our yard was on the side of our house. We put up a swing set and spent hours outside, pushing our toddler and preschooler on it. Across from our yard was a country club. Tennis courts overlooked all that our family did in our yard. A golf course that began its long stretch beside the courts cornered across from our picket fence. It took exactly one season to understand that country clubs were not ideal neighbors.
The only reason our house still stood in the plush neighborhood was because it was an antique treasure. Centuries of proud owners preserved its aesthetic value to the community. It was postcard-pretty with sunshiny yellow clapboards and white gingerbread lattice framing the ornate porch, freshly-painted wicker furniture and all. A slate plaque with an engraved copperplate font inscription was mounted beside the door, essentially claiming the bragging rights of owners of historical homes. I secretly wanted to tack a sign with red painted letters beside that one that said “Enter at your own risk.” That was my true experience living in an antique home.
Our kids were initially amused as neon yellow tennis balls would pop over our front hedges and roll to a stop near their sandbox. We would politely return them as the players witnessed their potential donation. Golf balls were everywhere. My husband would chuck them back across the street like pesky little rocks as he mowed our lawn along the street.
My husband would chuck golf balls back across the street like pesky little rocks as he mowed our lawn along the street.
Did you know that golf courses attract some wildlife, and displace other creatures? I did not know that, but know it well, now. It was not unusual to look out of the window of our home and see a deer nibbling on our mature landscaping. No apologies or gratitude was shown, ever. It is as if we had placed the carefully manicured bushes there for their exclusive consumption. As homeschoolers, we should have been delighted by the science lessons that played out in our yard, seemingly overnight. We weren’t. Rich, dark chocolate turf was plowed up by groundhogs who were overjoyed to find unchartered territory by just crossing the road. And the moles! I had never seen a mole. I didn’t even know what one was, until they proliferated and were sighted unabashedly darting across our playscape wood chips. I saw a lot of them, that first summer.
Remember the arcade game where you take the hammer-on-a-rope and whack the little moles who electronically pop their heads up? The person who whacks the most moles wins. I never got that violent, but I now understand the inspiration for the game. No matter how many are whacked, there are more. Especially when the golf course mole population has wind of the new tunnel development across the street.
Deer, groundhogs, moles. It was all very discouraging. Ants invaded, mice found their way in the cracks of the centuries-old bricks, and spiders made a vacation destination of our home. As the golf course staff cheered in victory as wildlife relocated to our property, we fought on to keep them away. I am happy to report that each creature was eventually convinced that there was no peace to be had at the banana-hued house across the street. We won our battles.
It occurred to me recently that we all have our spiritual moles to whack. A friend recently spoke of an old hurt that keeps rearing its ugly head, sometimes when she least expects it. As she spoke, I saw little plastic moles with cute but defiant faces popping up as she whacked them, one-by-one, as fast and as hard as she could. She was weary. My thought was that she was fighting a fight that God wanted to take from her, and win.
People pay money to whack moles in arcades. There is brief but satisfying delight in bopping a series of truly-harmless, molded and toy-like vermin. Over time, mole obliteration gets old, however. In life, unhealed wounds can reopen and sideline us without warning. An unkind, even if unintentional, comment can deflate our spirits and defeat us. We can walk around in sadness for days, until we are encouraged and the wound, unhealed, is covered with another bandaid. Until the next trigger causes the same pain. We do not have to fight this same fight repeatedly, because God is clear that He is up to the fight, Himself.
We do not have to fight this same fight repeatedly, because God is clear that He is up to the fight, Himself.
The Old Testament is a chronicle of God winning battles for His people. Modern renderings of Bible stories via film don’t apologize for the violence in the Bible’s pages. Even if I am not watching the newer Bible stories-turned-movies with my family, the sound of violence flows from the family room. Battles are gory. God just lays them out in Scripture. Some of us cringe upon reading casual mention of beheadings, spearing and eye gouging. God doesn’t cringe. He tells it like it is and offers, flat out, that He will fight for us. Look at Psalm 44:3-7;
“For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them. You are my King, O God; Command victories for Jacob. Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me. But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us.”
David, subject to relentless vicious opposition, was no stranger to violence. Early in his career he came out in society, so to speak, by killing, then ceremoniously beheading, Goliath. Taking a gruesome act to the limit, he then took Goliath’s head as a trophy back to Jerusalem (see I Samuel 17). Fast forward to another season in his life, and David is desperately grabbing hold of God’s promises to save (making up the entire content) in Psalm 35. Here are verses 1-3;
“Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; Fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of buckler and shield And rise up for my help. Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me; Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’"
King Jehoshaphat also understood that God wins victories. He did his own brand of battle-fighting, however, but in the most pacifistic way that was probably recorded in Scripture. He reassured his people;
"Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’”
–(2 Chronicles 20:15)
Instead of heading into physical battle, He let God do that. Instead, Jehoshaphat sent out singers to praise God! His confidence in God was complete. Psalm 20:7 shows that David and Jehoshaphat shared theologies regarding this; “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Psalm 60:11-12 echoes this; “O give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is in vain. Through God we shall do valiantly, And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.” We are told the key to victory over and over by the heroes of the faith; “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.” –Proverbs 21:31
Our battles today usually do not look like the battles of Bible times, but they are battles, nonetheless. We may be battling for victory in the areas of emotional or physical healing, finances, relationships, or habits, to name just a few examples. It is rare for us to own heavy and awkward swords and shields, but all of us are told to equip ourselves with the armor of God (see Ephesians 6). How do we engage God in warfare on our behalf after we have done our part and “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, (we) may be able to stand your ground, and after (we) have done everything, to stand” –Ephesians 6:13?
We can engage in the frustrating, fruitless task of fighting some battles over and over again, or we can admit defeat on our own and ask our Father to fight for us.
God fights our fights when we ask Him to. We will one day be surprised to see how many of our trials were overcome by His intervention, even when we were unaware of the potential devastation that they carried. We can engage in the frustrating, fruitless task of fighting some battles over and over again, or we can admit defeat on our own and ask our Father to fight for us. He does not despise our desperation. He loves us and wants to take over when we are weary.
Many times, God wants to intervene before the battle rages out of our control, but we fight on and on, unsure what else to do. He has unlimited resources and will employ then on our behalf. He has strategies that will leave us awestruck in praise at His creativity and power. He will release angels on our behalf, and He will give us wisdom on what we should be doing while He fights the darkness that harasses us.
Jehoshaphat and David both understood the power of worship in warfare. Psalms are full of songs that David employed as weapons in his battles. I recently heard worship described as enemy repellant! It took different forms of repellant to rid our home of pests. I am familiar with the effectiveness of repellant because of those pests. Worship and the enemy flees! This is a simple strategy, but sometimes our part is to battle in our minds and hearts because the enemy opposes worship as much as he opposes any Christian act. This should clue us in to its effectiveness!
God is our Hero, and He deserves our praise, for things seen and things not yet seen. It may be time for you to hand your battle over to the Lord. He will direct you and give you wisdom about what part, if any, you may have in defeating the enemy in your own private war. In reality, Jesus has already won our every battle, by defeating our enemy, once and for all.
Victory was won through Jesus. Trust Him, engage Him by casting your cares to Him (I Peter 5:7), and watch Him win your battle while you sing His praises. While you wait, your strength will rise. Isaiah 41:10 tells us what to do while we wait; “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Bless you as you wait on Him to win your battle!