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To expect…the expected

[tweetmeme source=”joshdecker” only_single=false]One of the things I’ve started coming to terms with is to expect the expected.  For instance, last month we had a great Winter Retreat with our students.  A few weeks prior to leaving for that retreat, we had a student make a decision for Christ.  You’d think I would have expected some spiritual attacks between the two.

Now, I’m facing it again.  This weekend we had a guest speaker at church, and we saw some great things happen.  I had the opportunity to really minister to some folks, and today has been one for the record.  Work has been less than motivating, and confrontation seems to be right around every corner.  Put mildly, I’m feeling defeated.

So how do we make it through these times, when the battle seems so fierce?  Is it by sheer strength of character and knowing I don’t have a choice?  I don’t think so.  Our speaker yesterday encouraged us to “continue in prayer” about everything, and today has been an exercise in opportunities to do so.

I notice it is this type of day that makes it so easy to shift our focus from Christ to ourselves.  We start feeling sorry for ourselves, and we start looking at how bad others are to us.  Call it what you want, but for those who are Christ Followers, this is a specific attack against our selfish nature.  So how do we combat this?

  1. Pray Continually. I think this sums it up.  When we start feeling ‘beat up’, the first response should not be to “put up the dukes”, but to fall on our knees.  If we can remember to keep focused on Christ, and truly understand we cannot do anything apart from Him (John 15:5), then the battle seems a little less intense.
  2. Remember, we’re on the same team. A lot of times these attacks come from “within the ranks”…from our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  If we can remember we’re on the same team, and that we’re really not trying to shoot each other in the back, foot, or eyeball, it increases the amount of grace and mercy we can extend to each other.  Remember how much grace and mercy Christ extended to you, and be sure to extend it to others as well.
  3. Look with hope to the end. The truth is, the battle is just heating up.  For most of us, it’s only going to get tougher.  Are we going to tuck tail and run, or stand firm on Christ alone (Phil 4:13)?  Remember, this world is not our home.  Everything that happens here is just preparing and refining us for our future with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You can make it through the battle.

When you’re going through the low times, the times that seem like you’ve dug into the fox hole and can’t see your comrades around, remember they are there.  Also remember your General is still in command (Jesus Christ), and he’s already won the war.  We’re just waiting for the victory call to make it to the front lines.