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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Sun over wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God recognizes and welcomes people who need help

What do you look like when you’re looking for help? Do you get that blank, worried expression you see on husbands who are seeking peanut butter at the store and have no idea what aisle it’s on? Or do you play it cool?

When I’m looking for help, I try not to look like I’m looking for help. That’s probably silly, and it’s probably a pride issue. But I don’t like to look helpless even if I am. But there are some times when I know I look utterly and completely lost, but even at those times not everyone around me is willing to offer help.

There’s a big difference between recognizing that someone needs help and choosing to stop. 

Sun over wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun over wheat – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Nahum 1:7.

God is good, 
   a hiding place in tough times.
He recognizes and welcomes
   anyone looking for help,
No matter how desperate the trouble.

God is the sort of person who will help anyone who comes to Him. Satan wants us to think that God will eventually give up on us and that if we screw up too many times, God won’t help us anymore. He’ll wash His hands of us.

That’s not true. Nowhere in Scripture has God rejected a living, breathing person who turned to Him and asked for help. No matter what kind of trouble we get into in this life, no matter how badly we screw up, no matter where the consequences of our actions have taken us, God is always waiting to welcome us home.

Not only does He recognize that we’re in trouble. He is also willing to help us, eagerly anticipating the day when we get our heads straightened out and come to Him. Like the story of the Prodigal Son. God symbolizes the Father. He’s out waiting in the road, watching for the crazy kid to come walking back.

This passage out of Nahum is pretty interesting. If you have a chance, I’d suggest reading all of Nahum 1, but I’d recommend reading it in the Message (which is the version I used this morning). Nahum is one of those minor prophet books that you need to understand the context before the translation will make sense.

Nahum was a prophet that God sent to Nineveh. Nineveh was a pretty evil place. I’m not going to go into details, but Nahum wasn’t the only prophet God had sent there. And the reason God sent Nahum was to warn the people of Nineveh that judgment was coming and if they didn’t repent, they were all going to die rather unpleasantly. If you study ancient history, in all honesty, losing aspects of Ninevite culture wouldn’t have hurt the world that much. But God doesn’t take anyone for granted, and He doesn’t want anyone to die without giving them a second chance. That’s what Nahum was for.

In the Message, Nahum 1 starts out with the phrase, “God is serious business.” And that’s very true. That statement is followed by a long list of what God is capable of doing. How powerful He is. How mighty He is. How strong He is. The Creator, the Sustainer of everything. What happens when He turns His rage on people who defy Him?

And then we get to Nahum 1:7. “God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble. ”

What other god would give the people who’ve betrayed and hurt him a chance to come home? Not only a chance to come home, but the opportunity to be safe. Nahum 1:7 tells us just how deeply God cares about us, that He recognizes when we need help, that He welcomes us into a safe place no matter how much trouble we’re in. Even if it’s facing consequences of our own stupidity, God is waiting to welcome us.

So whatever trouble you’re facing, don’t hesitate to take it to God. And if you see someone who is in trouble, stop and help them. And don’t beat them over the head with their troubles. Welcome them into a safe place, like God does for us.