Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Finishing Well

Last night, we finished up Peter Jackson's "The Return of the King", the final video in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In it, King Theoden, one of the kings of men, is attacked in the final battle of men and lies dying when his niece, Eowyn, finds him and embraces him. As tears slip down her cheeks, he tells her, "I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed."

You see, there had been a time when, if Theoden HAD died, he would have felt shame. For a portion of his life, he had given in to evil. And even after being freed from the strongholds of evil, when he had begun walking in truth and life, he had still been fearful in his heart. He had run from battle with the enemy, instead of being strong enough to attack the enemy. But having gone into battle against the enemy with the King of Kings, once he lay dying, he knew he would no longer be ashamed to meet his ancestors.

The writer of Hebrews warns us about not becoming satisfied with lukewarmness, and uses the awareness of our "fathers" and their eyes on our lives as motivation to press on:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
We are not to just live mediocre "just get by" lives, where we just mark time from Sunday to Sunday, and try not let the enemy gain ground. We are to be on the OFFENSE, not the defense. Matthew 16:18 says that the gates of Hell will not be able to prevail, or withstand, the church... we are not to be passive.

We are not to take a backseat in the battle against the enemy who is at work in this world. You might say, "well, I'm not a preacher," or "my husband isn't even a Christian". Or, "I'm a young mom- I'm already used up and maxed out." Or, "I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I may not be the best Christian, but I'm plugging along and my kids aren't doing drugs. We're doing pretty well in the whole scheme of things."

But THAT is not the abundant life of a child of God. Our charge is not to just keep things from going bad. We are to be like a light in a dark place... so that everything within our influence is made lighter and more accurately seen by our presence.

I can't speak for you, but King Theoden's words really resonated with me: "I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed." He felt that way because He had stood up and fought against the powerful enemy, even in the face of fear and death.

When I stand in the presence of King Jesus, and am in the company of men like Paul, David, Moses, and Jim Elliot, and women like Esther, Priscilla, Gladys Aylward, I don't want to feel shame for how little of an impact I made on the world around me. I don't want to be ashamed because I never went to war with the enemy.

Consider this, as written by R. Logan and T. Clegg,
"I believe that the enemy divides all people into two categories: those he can ignore, and those he has to fight. I want to be one of those he has to fight."
Strong words. But, truthfully, even though there may be fear in your heart at words like those, don't they also stir up something more courageous and honorable in you? Something in me jumps up and prays,
"Lord, don't let me mark time. Don't let me be ignore-able. Make me a mighty warrior, even if it means that I have a target on my back. Don't let me die unused and having just kept things 'even keel'. Teach me to fight. Teach me to be on the offensive. Teach me how to bring TRUE light to the world you've put me in."
You may not be called to go to Ecuador to a savage tribe like Jim Elliot, and you may not be a Queen with the ear of powerful people, like Esther was. But you are an important warrior in the battle against evil. Whether you see it today or not, God has a strategic purpose for your life. Seek out what purpose He has for you- and think of the strengths He has given you... what might He have made you to do in the place where He put you?

Lord, reveal to each of us what your strategic purpose is for us. Show us what we were made for. Make us brave against the enemy, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that you would have us do. Help us to be useful in this world, so that we might not be ashamed when our time to die arrives. Make us bright-shining lights in the growing darkness of this world. In the powerful name of Jesus, may it be so.


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