Lighthouse on Bolivar Island from Galveston Ferry - Galveston, TX

Even good soldiers get tired

Life can feel like a never-ending battle. Somedays, I think it is. I love the television show 24, and while I have never had a day as bad as Jack Bauer’s, I can identify with him because the storytelling is somewhat reminiscent of real life. You have good days; and you have bad days. You have days when you make progress, when forward momentum is possible; then you have days when you go backward, where it’s just a struggle to survive.

And I don’t know about you, but I get tired of fighting. I get tired of trying to stand up under the heavy weight of responsibility I have. And those days where no matter how hard I fight I can’t win, I can despair pretty easily, I’m sorry to say.

I was feeling so blue the other day, just tired and weary. On days like that I try to remember that God can do anything and nothing is too big for Him. But even as I was remembering how powerful God is as I was driving into work, I just couldn’t shake the worn-out feeling. I just wondered if I was doing what I was supposed to do, if I’m living the way I’m supposed to live, working where I’m supposed to work.

When I get tired and I feel like I can’t fight anymore, I start to despair and wonder if I’m going the wrong direction. And as I was driving, a song came over the radio that I’d heard many times. And when it released, it meant a lot to me, but that morning, it really struck me. The stong is “Strong Tower” by Kutless. And it comes from a verse in Scripture, and if you’ve ever heard the song, you know it’s powerful.

Lighthouse on Bolivar Island from Galveston Ferry - Galveston, TX

Lighthouse on Bolivar Island from Galveston Ferry – Galveston, TX

Proverbs 18:10.

The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
    the godly run to him and are safe.

I don’t retreat. Like ever.

I rarely back down in situations where I feel like I need to be strong, and especially when it comes to Scripture. I don’t like conflict, and if I suspect someone wants to start a fight about it, I’ll generally back off. But when it comes to issues in life or at work or just in general living, I don’t falter.

I’ve always lived with a “good soldier” mentality for a Christian. 2 Timothy 2:3 says: “Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” And I’ve tried to do that. Good soldiers don’t complain. Good soldiers don’t give up. Good soldiers never run away.

But even good soldiers get tired.

Independence is a good thing. Not relying on other people is a good thing. But it’s not the best thing. I’m an independent person; I think I’ve said that before. But I have a terrible habit of trying to do everything all by myself. I have this deep-seated fear that if I ask someone for help, they’ll think I’m weak or that I can’t take care of myself.

But that’s not the case. Life is a battle, and if you belong to Christ, you are one of God’s soldiers. And we are called to do warfare, not with people but with the spiritual forces that run rampant in our world. We have to fight it every day, and not just the influences of Satan in other people but also in our own lives. And we can’t do it alone.

We need each other. And we need God. And on those days when the battle is just too much, God is a strong tower we can run to for rest and safety and healing. And if He didn’t expect to need Him, He wouldn’t have it available to us.

And I’m sure this is elementary, but it’s the simple truths that mean the most. And as I was driving that one day, listening to this song, I guess I just realized that it’s okay to step back and admit that I’m tired and tell God that I need help. I don’t have to power through every circumstance and every challenge and fight to the bitter end when I have no strength left. That’s not the way we’re supposed to fight. We’re supposed to rely on God for His strength. We’re supposed to remember where our strength comes from to begin with.

So don’t hesitate to run to Him if you need a break. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s good to remember that we can’t do everything. Step back and stop trying to fight. Get off the front lines. And just have a conversation with Him. Get our your Bible and start reading. Or listen to music that praises Him. And I guarantee you’ll find something that will encourage you and that will remind you that God really does know what He’s doing.

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Cave in the mountains

The difference between a fortress and a shield

Do you ever feel like you need protection? I’m not really one of those people who prefers to sit back and wait for life to come to me. I usually race into conflict with arms open wide, trying my best to get everyone to get along. But as much as I prefer action, there are days when all I want to do is hide. On those days, I feel like the world’s weakest person because I just want to curl up in the darkness and block out the world and everyone in it.

That’s probably not wrong, but isn’t there a way to face conflict between people without getting hurt?

Cave in the mountains

Cave in the mountains - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

The passage for today is Psalm 18:1-2.

   I love you, LORD;
      you are my strength. 
  The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
      my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
   He is my shield, the power that saves me,
      and my place of safety.

I forget this really easily. I spend a lot of time fighting, if you will. Of course, that’s metaphorical. I’m not a soldier or a warrior in any stretch of the imagination, but I do end up in the middle of a lot of relationships. And the people who you love can hurt you more than anyone else.

In these verses, David calls God His rock. What does that mean? I mean, if you say someone is your rock, what are you talking about? I’ve always thought it meant that someone is stable and solid and unmoving. If I have a friend who is a rock, that friend is someone I can count on no matter what. But David didn’t stop there. God is our rock and our fortress. Okay. So God is both someone we can count on no matter what and someone we can go to for protection. But notice that He’s also our shield.

So what’s the difference between a shield and a fortress? Well, a fortress is a place you go to for protection. A shield is protection you carry with you.

This is where I get hung up. Because I think that I can run to God for protection until I feel better and then I charge back into battle again. But I leave my shield behind. And that’s why I get hurt again and have to run back for protection when I get hurt.

God’s power isn’t contained merely within a place of refuge, but He gives us the strength to go out into battle and He promises to protect us in the middle of conflict. We don’t have to run away and find a quiet place to recuperate. That’s nice sometimes, but we shouldn’t forget that God has offered to protect us as our shield too.

You have to trust your shield, you have to let the hurtful things others say hit the shield and not you. You have to let the lies that Satan throws at you hit the shield and not you. That’s what a shield is for.

For me, it’s not so much trusting my shield, it’s remembering to take it with me.

So when you wake up in the morning and you know that you’re going to face trials and difficulties, don’t try to do it by yourself. Don’t trust your own abilities to deflect the hurt that will undoubtedly come your way. Take a shield you. Trust that God will absorb the impact. Granted, you’ll probably still feel it. Even people who carried shields in historical battles still felt the impact of swords and arrows, but the pain didn’t linger. So even if you feel the impact, you won’t have to focus on the pain.

That’s what a shield does.