Conflict and struggle can be hard to face, but how we respond will not only show if we believe in ourselves, but what we believe about God.
As a kid I remember at times being bullied and pushed around, not from kids my age because I was always a big kid, but usually from older kids. (Doesn't matter how old we get it, seems there will always be bullies.) I remember a few instances where the bigger kid would challenge me to a fight and like the wild west, he'd throw down the charge, "Meet me behind the school after class" or some other frightening phrase like it. I remember carrying fear around with me all day like the books on my back, dreading and counting down the minutes until the show down. It took everything I could muster to just show up. Uncertain of victory or utter annihilation the one thing I could not do was not show up. Like some unwritten code in my DNA as a man-child, I had to at least be there, to not run from the challenge, I may not have been able to walk away from the scene but at least I would show up.
Sometimes the first step in frightening battles we face in life is to just "Show Up". As men living life in the everyday mundane rat wheel it's sometimes hard to find the strength or will to "Show Up" for the things that matter most. Serving our families, praying for those we love, listening to a friend instead of talking about yourself, reading scripture or having consistent integrity. Sometimes these things feel like the hardest, most impossible tasks of our day but still we must "Show Up". Being consistent as a Godly man is so important. Trying to not be overwhelmed by always sizing up the opponent or big picture of paying bills and working more than you'd like or the effort to serve when you'd rather be served. But instead, take one day at a time, one loving act of kindness, one extra minute to care. Soon we find that a few extra moments of selflessness and a couple of extra efforts of serving, make the difference in the lifetime of a child or the quality of a marriage. Before we can be used of God to fight some battle waiting for us in our destiny, we have to be committed and determined to at least "Show Up".
Once we've made the decision to follow through we must then "Stand Firm", when I think about this phrase I have visions of William Wallace (Braveheart) or Maximus (Gladiator). These men were resolute in what they believed and fought for it, even at the cost of their own lives. Most of the time however, the Lord just wants us to stand, He does the fighting.
2 Chronicles 20:17 says "You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you."
I think it's so interesting that the Lord would have us dress up in our battle gear, and even take formation and prepare our footing for a fight, and then tell us to watch because the battle is His. Almost as if to say, I'm allowing you to feel apart and encourage you, and even giving you the deep honor and pride of feeling important and useful and needed, but I'll do the fighting. As a kid I played every sport under the sun and in each one, some of the basic instruction included having the right footing, whether blocking out in basketball or blocking an offensive line man to make a tackle in football, the most important part of each was learning to stand firm and to be ready for the challenge. Each of us struggles with temptation and failure but we have to be committed to getting back up after we've been knocked down and stand firm for the next challenge. We often walk away with a black eye or a limp, but we can hold our heads high and our hearts steady when we Show Up and Stand Firm.
God asks us to trust Him with the battle but also to "Be Strong and Courageous" in the middle of it. God has promised, ‘the Salvation of the Lord', and the assurance that you are not alone. Maybe every fear is not completely subsided but there is a sense of confidence and faith and trust in the One who will fight the fight for you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."
Go back in your memory and be encouraged by the innumerable amount of times that God proved Himself before you, provided a way or answered a prayer. We must trust that God goes before us and loves us enough to call us into the action. Let's stand next to Him ready and willing to offer our lives, yet with the faith that the fight before us is His, and that we must not fear for He is with us.
One thing I remember about those school ground challenges is that I never knew when those days would come, that hasn't changed as an adult. We have no idea what God is going to allow us to walk through from day to day, but whatever we face, we can trust He has allowed it in our lives and He is with us through the fight.
Praying that I/we will be willing to SHOW UP, to STAND FIRM, and BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.
2 Chronicles 20:17 (Whole Chapter)
[Exodus 14:13, 14 ] You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' [ 2 Chronicles 20:15 ] Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, [2 Chronicles 15:2; 32:8; Num 14:9] and the LORD will be with you."
1 Corinthians 16:13 (Whole Chapter
Be watchful, [Gal 5:1; Phil 1:27; 4:1; 1 Thess 3:8; 2 Thess 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:1 ] stand firm in the faith, [1 Sam 4:9; 2 Sam 10:12; Isa 46:8 ] act like men, [Eph 3:16; Eph 6:10; Col 1:11] be strong.
Galatians 5:1 (Whole Chapter)
[ Christ Has Set Us Free ] For [Galatians 5:13; Galatians 2:4; James 1:25 ] freedom Christ has [ John 8:32 ] set us free; [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to [Acts 15:10 ] a yoke of [ Galatians 2:4] slavery.
Ephesians 6:13 (Whole Chapter)
Therefore [1 Pet 4:1 ] take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in [Ephesians 5:16] the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Philippians 1:27 (Whole Chapter)
Only [Philippians 3:20 ] let your manner of life be [ Eph 4:1 ] worthy [Greek Only behave as citizens worthy] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] that you are standing firm in one spirit, with [Philippians 2:2; 1 Cor 1:10 ] one mind [Jude 3] striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Philippians 4:1 (Whole Chapter)
Therefore, my brothers, [Or brothers and sisters; also verses 8, 21] whom I love and [ Philippians 1:8 ] long for, [Philippians 1:4; 2:16; 2 Cor 1:14 ] my joy and [Prov 16:31; 17:6 ] crown, [Philippians 1:27] stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Be Strong and Courageous
Deuteronomy 31:6 (Whole Chapter)
[Deuteronomy 31:23; Josh 1:6, 7; 10:25; 1 Chr 22:13; 28:20 ] Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, [ Deuteronomy 20:4 ] for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. [Josh 1:5] He will not leave you or forsake you."
Joshua 1:7 (Whole Chapter)
Only be strong and [Joshua 23:6 ] very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law [Joshua 11:15 ] that Moses my servant commanded you. [Deut 5:32; 28:14] Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success [Or may act wisely] wherever you go.
2 Samuel 10:12 (Whole Chapter)
[ Deut 31:6 ] Be of good courage, and [1 Sam 4:9; 1 Cor 16:13 ] let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and [1 Sam 3:18] may the LORD do what seems good to him.