When Faith Becomes a Fight

by Andy Wood on May 9, 2017

in Five LV Laws, Hoarders, Insight, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Pleasers, Principle of Increase, Waiting

A.W. Tozer, in commenting on the difference between a yesterday and a today faith, wrote this:

We habitually stand in our now and look back by faith to see the past filled with God. We look forward and see Him inhabiting our future; but our now is uninhabited except for ourselves. Thus we are guilty of a kind of [temporary] atheism which leaves us alone in the universe while, for the time, God is not. We talk of Him much and loudly, but we secretly think of Him as being absent, and we think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness.

Your capacity to believe God is the gateway to a life of power, usefulness, and joy. And yet during his earthly ministry, nothing caught Jesus by surprise more than the “people of God” or so-called “believers” not believing – living with that cosmic loneliness that Tozer wrote about.

“Where is your faith?” He would ask.

“Just believe,” He would encourage. “All things are possible to him who believes.”

And still it eluded them.

But there was one guy who surprised Jesus just as much – to the point that He marveled.

Man of God? Nope.

Pharisee?  Nah.

Disciple? Noooo.

A Roman centurion.  Someone you and I may refer to as a pagan. And yet Jesus said of Him, “I haven’t seen faith like this in all of Israel.”

What did the centurion have that Jesus so wanted His disciples to pick up on?

He understood receiving from a Greater Power.

He understood submission to a Greater Authority.

He understood resting in a Greater Promise.

He understood acting on a Higher Purpose.

Most of all, as a soldier, he understood that sometimes you just have to draw the sword and fight for what you believe.

You probably aren’t a Roman centurion (though props for you if you played one in a recent Easter pageant).  But in your life you will face those situations where faith doesn’t come automatically. Where faith, if you’re to have it at all, is a fight.  And I have learned that there are four battlegrounds of faith where you’ll need to “draw the sword.”

Receiving from God’s Goodness

David, the “man after God’s own heart” understood how important it is to hold on to the faithfulness of God.  He said in Psalm 27:13, “I would have despaired unless I had believed to see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”

That’s where you may be fighting to believe right now. You don’t have trouble believing God was good, for example, at the cross of Christ. You don’t have trouble believing God will be good sometime after you’ve taken the dirt nap.

Your challenge is believing that you can receive from God’s goodness now. Claim His promise now. Experience His favor or blessing now.

Or maybe you believe for everybody else, but not yourself.  God is good.  All the time. For everybody else, that is.  But you’re not worthy. You haven’t earned it. You don’t deserve it. You’re not smart enough, righteous enough, faithful enough. You haven’t given enough, witnessed enough, served enough, prayed enough. He’d be good to you if you were better at being good yourself.

Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds?  If anybody else said that to you about himself, you’d howl. But there’s an inner dialogue that constantly questions the goodness of God for your life. Your circumstances.

Stop it.  Fight. Stop listening to the sounds of your own unbelief.  And most of all, stop questioning the willingness of God to be a life-giving Father of all blessing to you.

Relinquishing Your Authority.

“You don’t have to come,” the centurion said to Jesus. “I, too, am a man under authority… Just speak the word.”

This guy got something about faith that most religious people miss.  Namely being under authority and what it can do for you.  But that’s a fight for self-willed people whose idea of “faith” is to get God to bend to their will.

These are often the same people who speak of “not getting much out of” a worship experience or who jump ship the minute somebody challenges their priorities or lifestyle choices. For them faith becomes a fight because somebody has to be the Prime Mover or the Ultimate Will.

Faith says, “God you’ve got a better plan. God you have a higher authority.”

Faith recognizes that God’s authority and plan – and your surrender to it – is a breathtaking gateway to blessing, joy, and deep satisfaction. But something in you fights against that. Something stubbornly resists giving up control, or at least the illusion of it.  So go ahead and be your own boss. Soon enough you’ll discover that you’re working for a lunatic.

Here’s another plan. Fight against your own self-will. Lay down your insistence on being your own boss. Trust Jesus (I just typed “trust” really hard) to be able to do exceeding abundantly more than you could ever ask or think according to the power that works in you, when you bring your will into alignment with His.

Resting in God’s Truth

There comes a point in every faith journey or transaction where you’ve done all you can do and God has promised all He has promised.

The only thing missing is time.

The only thing missing is waiting.

Oh dear Lord, that?

Yeah, that.

Abraham? Don’t need your help, buddy.

Sarah? Not your job to figure this out.  Just rest. Walk and live as if the promise is true, even if you don’t see it yet with your eyes.

Moses? Why don’t you let me take care of the timing of all this?

Saul? Did anybody tell you it was your job to act as priest?

Faith becomes a battle when you’re tempted to fidget. Fix. Help God out. Hurry God up.

Stop. Be still. Anchor yourself to His promises and live as if they are true. And when you have to fight for what you believe, it probably won’t be the Egyptians or a biological clock or the Amalekites. Your fight will be with your own tendency to want to fix the problem.

Responding to God’s Direction

There is a flip side to resting, and that’s moving when God says move.  That handy nugget of truth would have been helpful to those twelve spies that checked out the Promised Land.   God said move and they started whining about giants and grasshoppers. Mind you, this was the same bunch that had walked across the Red Sea on dry ground, but who am I to judge? I have my own challenges responding to God’s direction.

Maybe you do, too. Maybe that’s where faith is a fight for you – simple, clear obedience.  Will you trust the Lord enough to move forward in the direction of His will, even if you are unsure of the results?

You may feel derailed from God’s plan – sorta like Jonah in the whale’s belly – because God said “North” and you went South.  Hey guess what? He still has a plan.  It may require a few adjustments from the original (unless, of course, he foreknew your disobedience and anticipated your unbelief and factored all that in… but hey, He’s just God and all).

So what’s the plan now? What does that next step of obedience look like now?

Does it look like a surrender of your will or a brokenness of your plans before the Lord. Then let your heart be broken for all time.

Does it look like a call to the quiet? To come away from the crowds and maybe for once in your life shutting up and listening?  Then listen. Stop striving. Know He is God.

Does it look like a call to courage? To risk standing up and speaking out when you’d just prefer that everybody go along and get along? To boldly lead when you’d prefer to blend into the service pool?  The stand up. Stretch. Take His authority and for God’s sake, lead.

Does it look like a call to act with no guarantees? To do the next right thing before you know how it’s all going to turn out? To obey without negotiation? Then obey. Do the next right thing. Dare to trust Him with the results.

 

In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul exhorts his mentee to “fight the good faith of faith.” This isn’t a doctrinal matter. That’s for another discussion.  It’s a fight to possess your possessions. To own your Kingdom authority. And to stare down an enemy that’s as close as your own heart.

Sometimes the believing is easy. Great. Enjoy those times.  But when it comes time to fight to believe, by all means, fight.

I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

I know God will be.

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Andy Wood is a professional speaker, author, teacher, and executive coach. For more information about how he can help you fulfill your purpose, increase your performance, or serve your people, email him at andy@lifevesting.com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando May 9, 2017 at 9:49 am

Right there with you, Andy, fighting the good fight!
Blessings!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Pray!

SP May 15, 2017 at 11:17 am

Thank you for this timely message. Blessings!

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