“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:12-14).
Is it just me, or have you noticed the most powerful times with the Lord are frequently followed by some crashing blow with “reality”? I put “reality” in quotes on purpose because this sudden change can leave us swirling in doubt. We question, “What is our reality?” The tangible moments with God disperse in these rude awakenings. If we allow it, everything God spoke to us can evaporate in the smack down. This is what the enemy of our soul hopes will happen. Satan aims to keep us in this perpetual wrestling with “reality” because it prevents us from stepping out in faith to pursue the calling God has given us.
This happened to me over the weekend. Only this time, I can see this dynamic at play; which is kind of bizarre, and even a little comical to me. Let me share what happened. I went to a women’s conference about advancing in your calling. I had some very clear breakthroughs there. God spoke to me in powerful ways through the women leading the event. It was emotional, intense, and very real. He liberated me in very specific places where I had been unable to delineate my calling. I left with new clarity, focus, and determination.
The next day I went to church as usual. The sermon was on faith, and the pastor spoke on the story of David and Goliath. He talked about our fascination with the underdog and cautioned us not to cast ourselves as the “hero in our own story”. He used the example of the Rocky Balboa movies, which might seem insignificant to you. But not to me. The message went directly with something God had said to me at the conference. Oh, and did I mention that my nickname was “Rocky” in high school? (an unfortunate but true story).
We ran some errands and went grocery shopping in the afternoon; you know, the typical things you do to catch up when you’ve been away from home. We stopped for a quick bathroom break first, and I took Jamie into the bathroom with me. Without going into the details, let me just say that Jamie somehow managed to hit me in the eye with the back of his head. It was an accident. The poor kid was as alarmed as I was, and it happened so fast. He hit me so hard I couldn’t even move for a few minutes. I cringed, holding my eye in the wretched pain and aftershock. The kid quite literally knocked the daylights out of me. My eye immediately started swelling, and by the time I walked out of the bathroom, I now looked the part. I was Rocky….again. Fantastic. I followed Chris to the Starbucks counter to get a bag of ice, still holding my eye. I think it was a combination of the pain and the embarrassment of not wanting to be seen like that. We left promptly, without the groceries.
I iced my eye the rest of the day; but it is still about seven shades of purple, and black all the way around. I think this might be the worst black eye I have ever had. It is a true shiner. In high school, my black eye won me a certain amount of respect and fame. I was the underdog who became the hero. I had stood up to the “giant” and defeated her. It was a point of pride. Now, the black eye is a reminder of that girl. The girl I am not anymore, and the behavior I am no longer proud of.
Reality check: “Rocky” was just defeated by a four-year old boy…in a bathroom stall…at Kroger. Not exactly shot down in a blaze of glory. The tough girl myth debunked for good. You heard it here first, folks.
Does anyone else see the humor in this? And the potential trap. The black eye is a tangible reminder of who I once was; a quite literal “crash” back to reality. Except, here’s the thing: it’s not my reality anymore. How will I respond to this black eye? Will I allow an accident more significance than it deserves? Do you see the temptation right here to lose all that God had said to me? I could have felt sorry for myself, believing I will never live down the memory. Satan will always be there, whispering lies to entice us back into the wrong fight. But God is there too. He is with us. He waits to see who will hold fast to His Word and rise to walk in it.
The black eyes will come, especially following our highest moments with God. It is precisely here that we have a choice to make. This is a critical point in the good fight of faith. We can shrink in the memory of who we once were, or we can rise to walk out what God has shown us about who we are becoming in Him. We deliver a death-blow to Satan when we stand up and continue after the punch, still determined to walk in everything God has shown us – black eye and all. Don’t internalize the punch, it’s doesn’t change who you are in Christ, or what you will become when you keep stepping out in faith toward God’s vision for your life.
For the record: this girl can still take a punch. From a four-year old…in a bathroom stall…at Kroger. Yo, Adrienne…cue my song, “It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival”…. well, I definitely got that tiger eye thing going on.
Jesus is the true hero in our stories. He disarmed the powers and authorities; He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross. He leads us in triumphant procession. He says to you, “Believe me, woman”. Rise in heroic faith in Him. This is your calling.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25).