I've spent the last year sharing my heart on how to conquer chaos and embrace peace especially in marriage and relationships. If we're honest, I think we would all prefer the peaceful palace over the chaotic, war-torn castle every time. But what happens when chaos comes knocking on the palace door without your permission? Chaos is a nation gone mad, an illness, the loss of a job, a death of a loved one, a spouse who doesn't want the marriage you want, or even a child who walks away from everything you've raised them to be. Reality is, one day chaos will come. How do I know? Because the Bible says so. There are many references to the fact we will face difficulties in our lives on this earth. 2 Timothy 3 states,
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure and not lovers of God, giving the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Here's the good news... Chaos is never an unannounced intruder to God. When chaotic turmoil bangs at the door, we can find peace in the promise that God knew he was coming. We can also rest in the promises God will give on the threshold of combat and cling to them until victory comes.
How do we do battle? There's a wise old saying, "To win a battle, you must first know who you are and who you are fighting. If you know who you are, but you don't know your enemy, you will lose. If you know your enemy, but don't know who you are, you will also lose. But if you know who you really are and who you are really fighting, you will win every time."
Let's tackle the first point of knowing who we are. Scripture tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made and God knew us before he formed us in our mother's womb. Most importantly, it says in II Corinthians 6:18, "And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me." If we are then children of the King of all Kings, we are already rulers over our enemy. Another aspect of our identity comes in putting on the full armor God offers us in Ephesians 6:11 to stand against our enemy's schemes.
Let's consider the armor pieces one at a time. Let's start with the helmet of our salvation. It's the helmet of our identity in knowing our Abba Father as Lord and Savior. Marching in that identity as child of a King keeps our thoughts clear during the fight. It gives us a sound mind as stated in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind." It means we fight by faith not fear. A faithful battle plan will be counter to our flesh wanting to run and hide when Chaos knocks. Instead, we step forward and fight, verifying what looks like faith and what acts like fear. Our natural inclination is fear, pushing us to grab for control and hold on to what we're fighting for. Faith is counter to hanging on for dear life. It's letting go for the sake of finding victory. When we release our situation into our Father's hands, he is more than able to make us conquerors. Victory starts with a clear understanding of who we are. We must put our faith in the one who is greater, and walk into battle believing in what we know and not what we see.
The next four pieces of armor are defensive in nature. The breast-plate of righteousness protects the heart and the other major organs from injury. We can't win without it because battlefields are full of heartbreak, grief, and shattered dreams. Wearing it means we exit the war with our hearts intact, despite the pain we experience. It falls into place when we get on our knees and ask the Father to unveil the places in our heart that are unrighteous--the contributions we made that gave Chaos our home address. We ask, "What part did I play?" If the answer is truly "none", then we simply petition the Father to protect our heart and keep our thoughts and motives pure as we fight our enemy. If we played some part, either directly or indirectly or through manipulation or selfish prayers, then we confess our role in it and ask for forgiveness. Then we stand up, without guilt or shame, and forge ahead wearing our breast-plate.
The belt of truth is next. Truth must surround us like a belt during the battle, otherwise we'll trip over ourselves unable to run the race. Without it we will listen to the voices in our head instead of the Commander and Chief in our heart. Our enemy is the father of all lies. To defeat him, we must walk into war with eyes wide open, deciphering lies from truths as they blaze toward us in war. Putting on the belt means asking the Father to expose any lies that helped create the battle and surround us with truth in the midst of the war. We confess any deception we've told or believed about the crisis to receive forgiveness and march on.
The shoes of peace are what we will stand in on the battlefield. According to scripture, they're tailored to our feet as a direct result of the gospel of our salvation. Miraculously, we can find peace in the middle of a war zone, while fiery darts of the enemy zoom past our heads, if we stand firm on God's promises. The battlefield is declared "Holy Ground" if we keep our minds fixed on Him. Without peace, we lose hope and confidence in our victory, but when we stand on his promises we walk in peace even while the battle rages.
The last "defensive" piece of armor is the shield of our faith. Scripture says our faith is found in the things we hope for that God has promised and not in what we see. The shield we hold is not found in the past victories we've had or the things God has done. That's only half the hope, and no warrior enters war with half a shield. A complete shield is found in the fullness of the power of who our Father truly is. He is resurrected Savior, King of Kings, and Lord of all. Hold up who he is and worship him. God always sent the worshipers out first before each battle because worship holds the power to bring triumph. He is Jehovah Magen, the Lord our shield, and he is the defender of our faith.
Now that we've established our identity, as recommended by the Chinese saying, and grasped some of the pieces of our armor, the last step to victory is about knowing our enemy. This is key before we take hold of the last piece of armor. Ephesians 6:12 says,
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.
Despite what you might think, we're not fighting people. Our battle is not against the ones bringing chaos to our door. If we consider them our adversary, we'll lose every time. They're just casualties on a battlefield the enemy is using. If we determine to destroy them out of bitterness or unforgivness, the battle is lost. Instead, we pray for them out of compassion.
Our Father knows our archenemy and calls him by name. Scripture says he's a roaring lion, roaming around seeking whom he can devour. Daniel, an OT prophet of God, found himself thrown into a den full of ferocious lions. In that moment, Daniel chose to pray and not panic. God answered by sending angels to shut their mouths. The enemy's tactic is to roar loudly and drive us to fear, but if we listen to the battle cry of our Father's commands, our faith will silence the roar.
Lions in the wild, on the prowl, circle around their prey. They lie in wait for the one stray lamb, all alone and vulnerable. If he is ravaging a member of your family, surround them with love and prayer. If you feel compelled to isolate yourself in the battle, out of heartbreak or embarrassment, don't, or you too could become a victim of the lion, helpless, vulnerable, and disconnected from the flock. Instead, gather allies. You are going to need the help of other trusted followers of Christ. I'm not suggesting you tell everyone you know you're at war. Telling the wrong person can make you more vulnerable. However, if you pray for the Lord to send you the prayer warriors you need, he will answer faithfully. Keep your eyes open and ears alert to the voice of those he sends. They are sent to pray, act, or even impart valuable battle plan information from their own experiences. The key is embracing the wisdom in their hands God sends as a part of his winning strategy.
Now we're ready for the sword, the last important part of the armor. Every other piece defends, but the sword is offensive. The Bible says the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. I believe one side of the sword is God's power and the other edge is our courage. Together they behead the lion. Before beginning His ministry, Jesus entered the wilderness for forty days and nights where he faced the roaring, roaming lion who had come to devour him. Jesus conquered him by wielding the sword of God's word. As the enemy offered him three tempting substitutes to the real thing God had planned, Jesus swung the sword of God's word and defeated every lie.
Satan had waited for Jesus to enter the wilderness alone, not to mention hungry, then he pounced with three tempting choices. First, he offered bread to eat in exchange for the real bread of life. I think women struggle with this temptation the most. At times I've found myself on a battlefield, tempted to grab food for comfort. Satan offered food to Jesus in hopes of taking advantage of his vulnerability. Jesus reminded him that he did not live by bread alone but by God's word, the bread of life. If we're not careful, we can grab for food when what we need most for nourishment is God's word in the midst of the calamity. Winning doesn't involve sitting down at the table and using food to soothe our pain. We've got to reach for the only substance that can fill the emptiness in our gut. God's word will sustain us and destroy the enemy's substitutes in battle. We win by living on and digging into the bread of life to sharpen our sword and by speaking it out loud when the enemy comes.
Next, Satan offered Jesus the chance to rule a false kingdom instead of the whole world. We can't accept anything less than the victory God has to offer. Don't allow yourself to accept the substitute of a short-term win in place of a long-term, bigger defeat of your adversary. Lastly, Satan offered Jesus the opportunity to prove his strength by jumping from a tower versus hanging on a cross. Jesus chose the most painful option because winning a war requires sacrifice. Something has to die. We may have to sacrifice our pride, our goals, or even our dreams to win. Anything we're grasping to that God asks us to sacrifice must be laid on the cross, so we can pick up the sword and possess victory.
We all want a peaceful palace, but when chaos comes knocking at our door, we can put on the full armor and take hold of the sword. Know yourself, your enemy, and your weaponry and God will give you the triumph over Chaos every time!
Do you want to live in a war-torn castle or a peaceful palace?
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