[Month 1, Week 2: This post is part of the “6 Month Discipleship Plan” series]
In my last post, I opened up about my recent new beginnings. Today, I’ll be sharing some eye-opening realizations that I recently received from the Lord which absolutely blessed and rebuked my heart, and is helping me in my current life transitions.
Some years ago, I got into an unexpected battle. My faith was questioned. I was discouraged to do the things Jesus did based on Scripture. My motives were criticized and my leadership was discredited. I still chose to protect people but deep inside, I was really hurt and discouraged. The spiritual abuse was disheartening.
My first response to the battle was to deal with it immediately. So I talked to the person involved. Many tears were shed but there were no resolutions. Personally, my exasperation just grew deeper.
On the side, in order to “act” on things, I started trying to prove a point, to defend myself to people, to reveal the truth and to win people on “my side”. But my actions only left me even more frustrated and bitter.
I wanted to quit the battle during the first round to be honest. But I remember, one sunny afternoon of June 2018, being alone in my room, I laid prostrate in prayer begging God to help me by changing the other person’s heart.
Only to find out that He was just about to change mine first.
God taught me to not be reactive towards other people’s foibles. I was rebuked to watch my tongue since it can set the whole course of one’s life on fire (James 3:6). I took a step back from the increasing differences in terms of vision and action, so I could step forward to what Jesus is calling me to do.
I prayed and prayed yet again, still begging God to help me by changing the other person’s heart.
But no, He wasn’t done with me yet.
God later on revealed to me my grudges against the person involved and those who are siding him. Sure, I was able to step forward to what Jesus is calling me to do but I had an indifference in my heart which clearly Jesus is not calling me to have as said in 1 John 4:20: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
I had to swallow my pride (yes, it was a series of those painful die-to-self moments) and release forgiveness even when reciprocated with spurns and even when conversations were not bilateral. I had to so I can worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth.
Things started to get better. I experienced breakthroughs in the midst of these heartbreaks. God was so gracious and encouraging through it all. I clung on Hebrews 12:2, fixing my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Then instead of praying to God to help me by changing the other person’s heart; I prayed that God would lead me to His heart.
Few weeks ago, after years of praying, God showed me and confirmed to me His leading. I took it scared but He gave me peace. It led me to uncertainties but He gave me further confirmation and assurance from His word.
In this chapter, a king named Jehoshaphat was suddenly informed that there is a vast army (a combination of the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites) that is about to go against them.
Alarmed, the king resolved to inquire of the Lord and declared a fast with his people. Then he assembled the people and prayed!
Yes, that is what he did! Pray and fast!
Although Jehoshapath was equipped with strong military intelligence, he resolved to seek the Lord and encourage his fellowmen to seek Him too. He did not prepare their war materials; they prayed! They did not strategize on how to defeat their enemies; they prayed! Yes, they were in deep distress (who would not be before three huge armies, right?), but they prayed!!!
If we’ll look into his prayer from verses 6 to 12, we’ll see a man who, though with his high position, intelligence and power, relied on the Lord and acknowledged how the only One who can save them from the war is God and not him or whatever they got. Yes, a lot of people today will perceive such response as unconventional. But for Jehoshaphat, the Lord is all they got thus they got everything they have! He resolved to inquire of the Lord. They sought the Lord.
The last part of his prayer truly blessed my heart. He said, “We do not know what to do but our eyes are on You.” What a humble admission and a faithful dependence on God.
And this is the more exciting part! The Lord replied to Jehoshaphat. Jeremiah 29:13 holds true! God says in verses 15-17:
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
“You will not have to fight this battle.”
“Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.”
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
“Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
When Jehoshaphat received God’s response, he bowed down with his face to the ground and together with his fellowmen, they fell down in worship before the Lord. What a life-changing and life-giving personal encounter with God!
The next morning, as they were marching towards the direction God told them about, Jehoshaphat said to his people, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld (2 Chronicles 20:20)”
Then they praised the Lord “for the splendor of His holiness” (2 Chronicles 20:21).
When the team of king Jehoshaphat looked over the desert where they were suppose to battle out, they saw the dead bodies of their enemies. Their enemies apparently killed each other!
Jehoshapat won the battle without having to fight.
Through this chapter, I realized that trying to prove a point, to defend myself to people, to reveal the truth and to win people on “my side” mean that I am fighting a battle that was never mine to fight.
The response of others is not my responsibility. Changing someone’s heart is not my battle.
It was only when I couldn’t fight anymore that I realized my foolishness. It was not my battle to begin with; it was God’s. Thus I had to start with an admission: “Lord, I’m sorry I fought a battle that wasn’t even mine to fight” and a confession: “Lord, I’m sorry I focused on how to defeat my enemies instead of seeking the One who is over and beyond the battlefield.”
Many lessons were learnt. Indeed, praise the Lord.
PS: I would like to share with you the song “Surrounded” by Michael W. Smith. This song relates to the 2 Chronicles 20 passage and is uplifting!