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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In the thick of things?

There are certainly times in life when we just feel like we are "in the thick of things" - you know what I mean - so totally "involved" in something that you almost feel "consumed" by whatever it is.  For a soldier, the greatest opportunity for being wounded, or even killed, is when he/she is in the "thick of the battle".  It is the "busiest" or most "active" part of the battle where the soldier has the greatest risk.  The same is true for each of us in life.  The busiest, or most active part of our circumstances places us at the greatest risk.

When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil.  With one hand strike my foes, with your other hand save me.  Finish what you started in me, God.  Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.  (Psalm 138:7-8 MSG)

Our psalmist is pleading with God, knowing that he will "walk into" the thick of trouble and the angry turmoil.  In essence, he is saying he is aware of the risks, but he knows he must go into those "places" of turmoil - simply because it is where the battle is won or lost!  The truth is, the battle is either won or lost in each life, not because we stay out of the battle, but because we are right in the middle of it!  Our preparation for battle is significant, but not as important as the LEADERSHIP we submit to in the battle.  For our psalmist, he places his trust in the leadership of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  His hope clearly is in the one who he knows will win the battle, not in his own abilities.

In looking closer at our passage, David doesn't say "IF" he goes into battle - he says "WHEN".  In understanding this we get a little insight.  The battle is not optional - it as assured.  It is a foregone conclusion - we don't need to spend a lot of time analyzing this one.  As assured as David was of the battles ahead, we can be just as assured - they will come.  WHEN they do, we need to have the "forgone conclusion" of how we will walk INTO the battle - under the care of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  One mighty hands holds back the enemy - the other surrounds the warrior child with its mighty protection and comfort.

As important as recognizing the battle as "inevitable", we also need to see it has a purpose.  David says it well - "Finish what you started in me, God."  The battle most definitely is a place of "faith-building", is it not?  Isn't the intent of God's activity in our lives to ensure the "growth" of our faith?  Therefore, we can conclude, the battle must be a "building ground" for our faith.  David's stance is one of trusting God to take him THROUGH the battle with the end result being God finishing what he had begun in his life in the "quiet times".  We learn a lot in our quiet times with God, but they are put to the test on the battlefield!  Faith is simply belief until it is tested.  On the battlefields of our testing, our every belief has a chance to be challenged - put to the test - to either give us total assurance of the "correctness" of our belief, or the need to "adjust" our belief because it was a little incorrect in the first place.  

David's ultimate goal is to remind us of God's keeping power, but it is IN the battle the protection is most appreciated.  We "know" God is there in the quiet times, but when in the thick of battle, there is a unique transition which occurs.  We don't "sit" and "wait" upon God - we run for shelter into his care and protection.  We align with his direction - something which gives us the "position" of protection in the battle.  We call upon him like never before - simply because we trust his direction to keep us safe and secure.  It is when our "peace" is disturbed that we recognize the authority of the one who can restore peace!

Good news is also part of this passage.  First, God goes with!  He leads the way into battle - he doesn't bring up the rear.  If we keep our eyes on him, we will be kept in the battle.  Second, God is aware of the enemy at all times.  We may think we know his tactics, but only a "proven" warrior is capable of anticipating the next move of the enemy.  Since none of us is "fully proven" in the battle, we need to align with his leadership in the midst of the battle - he is the only "proven" battle-winner!  Last, God will not abandon us in the battle.  He is not a quitter - he is an eternal victor - as such, he brings us through!  Just sayin!