One morning as I was driving to the church for our staff prayer, I was talking to God and I was asking Him why so many people are being attacked right now both physically and spiritually. It seems like it's been just a constant wave of trial, one after the other and I was frustrated because these are real people (some we know personally and some we don't) who are suffering. People are being diagnosed with terminal diseases, people are suddenly losing loved ones, people are going through divorce, people are losing their jobs, people's kids are being attacked and abused, people are going back to their old lives of addiction and bondage, money is being stolen....and the list goes on and on.
Then God brought me back to when I served in the Navy. We would have to stand watch (this is where you are in a position to "protect" and look out for any danger for a 4-hour length of time) and we would have a gun should anything happen while we were on watch and needed to defend the ship. Now the gun we would carry wouldn't have a bullet in the chamber, so that meant if we needed to use our weapon there would be a delay in our response because we would have to rack the slide on the gun to get a bullet in the chamber of the gun in order to fire the weapon. And to be very honest with you, when we would stand watch we never anticipated needing to use our weapon so our awareness wasn't as high as it should have been. Then 9/11 happened.
This changed everything. We had been attacked on our soil, the fight was brought close to home and we actually knew the people who died that day. That day machine guns were mounted to the tops of trucks and the bases were locked down. The streets we could walk down without fear on the base, were now empty. Areas were added to the watches we would stand because now threats were not just on the land but in the air and in the WATER. Now when we would stand watch and we were issued a gun, we had to have a bullet in the chamber because there could not be a delay in our response to an attack. Our awareness was heightened and now you were not met with a smile when you tried to get on the ship, you were met with a man or woman prepared to protect that ship and the people on it at all costs.
God spoke to my heart and said, "this is a season of 'one in the chamber'". The enemy is attacking no longer from afar, the fight has become very, very personal. He comes to steal, kill and destroy and there is nothing he won't do to accomplish his goal. He is reeking havoc on our lives and the lives of those around us, breading terror and hopelessness. We have been walking around in a state of neutrality, seeing all of the horrible things that have been happening in other nations, happening to other families, happening to people we don't really know so we throw quick little mindless prayer up to God then go about our day, but now the fight has come here. And it hurts, and we are scared, and we are confused and we don't know what to do. Before when the attack came we would respond AFTER it happened and often times there was a delay in our response, like a gun without a bullet in the chamber. God is saying, you need to be prepared BEFORE the attacks come. You need to pray BEFORE the tragedies hit. You need to be diligent to seek God's face BEFORE the attacks come. You need to be strong in your faith BEFORE it hits close to home. You need to be lead by the Holy Spirit NOW so you know His voice and His leading when chaos surrounds you. You need to have a bullet in the chamber so when you see the threat you can hit it before it hits you.
In this season God is not saying, "well, you're on your own! Good luck!" He is saying pray. He is saying to read the Word so you know how to fight a battle that is happening all around us that we can't see. He hasn't left us here to fend for ourselves, He has given us weapons to fight back with but just like any warrior, you have to train for battle. You have to practice DAILY the way you will fight when the war rages all around you.
Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us, "10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people"
Pray this every day, put on your armor ask for wisdom, ask God for strategies, ask God for insight, ask Him for eyes to see and ears to hear. When you have God is the commander of the army, YOU CAN'T LOSE. Romans 8:31 says, "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" When you are in the middle of the battle and you are not prepared to fight, that is when you lose hope, that is when you lose joy, that is when you begin to question whether God even exists. This happens because we weren't prepared. The enemy does NOT FIGHT FAIR. In fact he fights dirty, he hits you where it hurts the most. You can't stop the attacks from coming, but you can be victorious every single time. And every fight you walk through you become stronger, wiser, more surrendered to God, you see miracles happen, you become a walking testimony to those around you.
If an unexpected battle is where you were shaken awake to this reality, it's not too late. You can start training right now. Make prayer a priority, exalt God not the battle. Make reading the Word a priority. Get plugged into a healthy life giving church where you have people to walk with so you so aren't isolated. Speak life over things that look bleak. The next battle you face won't seem as overwhelming because you were trained and ready to respond without delay.
Live a life ready, with your gun on your hip and one in the chamber so there is no delay in your response.
1. What is your reaction when you are faced with a trial or an attack from the enemy? (Panic, fear, trust, prayer etc.)
2. How does your reaction impact your perspective?
3. Has God ever failed you and not provided for you through a trial? If so, how? (Perhaps He did provide maybe not in the way you expected.)
4. What does your prayer life look like?
5. Is prayer important to you?
Scriptures to read:
Romans 8:37 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us"
Joshua 1:6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them."
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore