Owlish Contemplations · Whispers of Faith

Strapping on the Combat Boots

Did I expect life to be somewhat like a relaxing day at the beach, sunbathing?

Kind of like a Thomas Kinkade portrait, all soft colors and homey features?

I did, didn’t I?

Some moments of life are like that – but truth is, the majority of life is so much more like a war zone.

Battles are raging for our hearts, our love, our thinking, and our passions. And most of the time, we walk blindly through life without realizing that we need so badly to be on our guard – to be fighting instead of complaining or giving in.

This year it became even clearer to me that when life gets tough, I have no choice but to take the soldier mentality. I have to face the daily battles like I’m in Boot Camp training – I have to expect that it will be difficult, not expect that I “deserve something easier.” I don’t deserve any guarantees in life, so why should I be fleeing when it gets harder than I thought it would be?

I’ve grown up in a family with military members. I know that combat boots aren’t just some fashion accessory made popular on Pinterest. Combat boots are for the deep jungles, the muddy slime pits, the hot and weary runs across the desert. When you put combat boots on, you expect that there will be a battle coming, and you have to be ready for it.

How have I been preparing my heart for the daily spiritual, mental, and emotional battles I will face every day? Have I been expecting the jungles of student behavior management? Have I been preparing for the slime pits of sin that creep over my heart? Have I been anticipating the dry deserts of loneliness? Have I been training my mind for all the battles of thoughts and motivations that will happen there?

I’m afraid I’ve taken the passive stander-by approach far too often this year. I’ve allowed myself to become overwhelmed by life instead of taking an active stance every day. I get tired, thinking, “I’ve had enough of Scripture review this week” or “I just need to fall into bed right now” or “A little music will pick me up” – forgetting that Satan never takes a rest, and his best tactics are those of distracting and rationalizing.

The heart is deceitful above all things. I will never have completely pure motives; I will never be the perfect picture of a disciplined soldier. But that doesn’t mean I stop trying. That doesn’t mean I stop fighting my sin nature. It means I start every day anew running to God for strength. It means I end every day on my knees, thanking God for His infinite grace that covers all the ways I’ve fallen today. It means that I repeat words of Scripture every morning until they are ingrained into my soul. It means that I whisper prayers of need, wisdom, and strength in the middle of every trying situation throughout the day.

This is a battle of the mind. Ephesians 6 says that we wrestle not with flesh and blood. Our enemies are the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil. We can’t see the battle, therefore we often forget about it … making it a hundred times more dangerous.

We must not forget.

We must actively fight our battles every day.

Sometimes your battle will never be seen by anyone else. They won’t see the tears shed when it gets excruciatingly hard or the whispered words of defeat.

But He sees. Oh, He sees, and He wraps arms of infinite strength around us. He never lets us be defeated because the cross is already victorious. He reminds our weak and forgetful hearts of this daily … and He wins our battles for us.

At the end of the day we might feel like we’ve lost our battles. But that doesn’t mean we abandon the war zone. We just take a quick rest, then we wake up in the morning to buckle our helmets and go out with our shield of faith, our breastplate of righteousness, and our Sword of the Spirit.

A soldier is fiercely devoted to his cause.

A soldier does not allow his focus to be distracted.

A soldier fights because of love.

The armor may be tough, but it’s only there to protect a beating heart – who wants to protect and save other beating hearts.

The cause He’s called you to is sacred – and it requires you to be a willing fighter until your final breath. Will you answer the call? Will I answer the call? Will I slay the giants of self-pity and discontent, and gladly take up the mantle of humility, servanthood, and love?

I pray that He makes me a soldier worthy of the cross of Christ.

For there is no higher calling than to know I’m wearing these boots for Him.

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