Have you ever been to a game that was forfeited? It’s such a disappointing feeling, isn’t it? Because the human soul longs to believe that, against all odds, the battle is worth fighting! When a soccer team forfeits because their best player was injured, then they gave up more than the game. They gave up hope. When a basketball team forfeits because they only have rookies eligible to play and they fear they just don’t have what it takes, they forfeit more than the game. They also forfeit any chance. It’s more about pride, in these cases, I suppose. Here’s the internal thoughts of those types of forfeits: I’d rather give up the game on my own terms because I trust the enemy is too great and I don’t want to be made a fool trying to fight what I know is a losing battle. Do you hear the pride, hopelessness, and fear that rule that decision?
There’s a reason the soul loves David with his “Let me at him!” spirit! He believed his God could do it! There’s a reason the human spirit rises up when we see the classic sports movies like We Are Marshall or The Karate Kid… because against all odds, a little flame of hope kept an underdog from going down. And part of us hopes with all that is within us that we see that same type of undeserved, unmerited win in the battles we face.
I think the only time a forfeit would feel honorable is when we decide one battle is not worth fighting in exchange for fighting a bigger battle. Like a coach who hears his sister’s battle with cancer takes a turn for the worse. If he forfeits a game because he needs to take up the fight with his sister, I find great honor in that. He forfeited one battle so he could fight a bigger one.
It’s the throwing in that towel for lack of courage that disappoints us.
So what does this have to do with you? The Lord has been bringing you to my mind this morning. He’s been showing me the things you wrestle with and reminding me of the specific spiritual battles you are facing.
We see plenty of victories in the Bible. Crossing the Red Sea. Crossing the Jordan. Jericho. But don’t we learn just as much, if not more so, from our failures and defeats? That’s why I’m so thankful our God didn’t sugar-coat His Word. He didn’t blot of the epic fails of His people. He knew we needed to know the whole history and the whole story so we could learn from both the triumphs and the downfalls.
If you’ve been doing your best to fight spiritually in prayer for your family and you don’t feel like you are getting victory, then first know you are not alone. I have been in that place many many times. And in different seasons, I have taken note of different things that held me back from accessing that victory.
So today, I’d like you to ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and reveal anything that might be hindering you from obtaining your yes and amen.
1.) Are you fighting with your hands tied behind your back?
Unforgiveness. Nothing forfeits a battle over to the enemy quite like unforgiveness.
We tend to hold on to bitterness or unforgiveness thinking that it will harm the offender. Nope. It only leaves YOU in chains. Unforgiveness hinders your prayers and holds you in bondage. Be set free. Forgive.
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” You have prayed that prayer before, I’m sure. It doesn’t mean forgive me even though I won’t forgive them. Nope. It means forgive me in the same way that I forgive others. So, if I don’t forgive them their sins, then that’s exactly how I’m asking the Lord to deal with me.
And my friends, that puts you on the wrong side of the battle line. It also puts you fighting for the wrong team! Yikes.
Forgiveness doesn’t say that what they did is permissible. It just releases you from taking the Judge’s seat and hands over the court decision to the One True Judge. In a way, unforgiveness ties the hands of the Judge because we are pushing Him out of the way and trying to do that job for Him. No, no, no. Let’s not.
Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. And keep forgiving.
2.) Are you fighting naked?
Put on the Full Armor Of God! (Ephesians 6)
Cover yourself in the Blood of the Lamb!
Ask God to cloak you in humility, kindness, compassion. (Colossians 3)
3.) Are you fighting alone?
There is power in agreement in prayer. Find people who actually believe that God is good and will give what they ask for.
4.) Are you following orders or making up your own strategy?
The last thing you want to be is a rogue soldier fighting on your own terms, your own way, on your own timing! Submit to the Chief of Angel Armies.
Ask Him to show you His strategy and His timing.
He doesn’t give formulas. He’ll use a slingshot and a stone one time, a bunch of shouts and trumpet blasts another, and on another occasion, He’ll use spit and dirt to make mud! He is a creative God.
Seek Him, trust Him, and obey whatever He says when He says to do it, no matter how strange.
5.) Are you afraid of the wrong guy?
Rev. Ken taught me that we worship what (or who) we fear.
For example, if you are a germaphobe, then you essentially live in such a way that gives germs the center of your attention, decisions, and thoughts. (That’s called worship.) If you are afraid of demons, then you live in such a way that gives them the center of your attention, decisions, and thoughts. (That’s called worship. Gasp!)
There is a reason that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord! Fear God alone.
For if God is for us, then who can be against us???
Let’s be more concerned with hearing and obeying His loving voice than any of the other voices we hear.
6.) Are you fighting on the wrong team?
Here’s how you can tell… Whose tools are you picking up to use and to fight with? Name-calling? Blame? Hatred? Hmmm… You’re on the wrong team.
Here’s another indicator… Are you allowing the coulda-woulda-shoulda’s to keep you company? Saying “could have”, “should have”, “would have” open up the front door and invite the spirits of shame, condemnation, self-condemnation, and blame to come on in and hang out with you.
I do not want to compromise the victory promised to me by hanging out with the wrong team. Listen. There is now, therefore, NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
This one is tied to forgiveness, but it’s worth mentioning. Any wrong thinking or attitudes like this only gives the enemy the upper hand. Foiled again?!? Don’t beat yourself up over your history of beating yourself up. Got it? Forgive yourself. And ask God to wipe this kind of speech and thinking from your thought life and prayer life.
I know He is able because He wiped it clean off of me. Seek accountability. If this is something you struggle with, share with your spouse or close friend and give them permission to call you on it if you begin fighting for the wrong team again.
Instead, switch your vocabulary from I-could-have-would-have-should-have to “God can,” “God will,” and “God redeems!” He restores all things! He makes all things new! And, He uses everything meant for your harm not only for your good, but for the deliverance of many!
7.) Last, but not least, are you obeying what you are hearing?
Yes, the Lord gives us each our battle plan. We want to wait on His timing to do what He shows us. But when He gives that green light, do it! Go for it!
He may tell you to make cookies for the neighbor that has not been nice to you. He may tell you to write a poem or a song. He may ask you to give your parking pass to your co-worker. He may tell you to go on a run. He may tell you to simple sit on your duff and just be still and remember Who He Is and What He Has Already Done. He may tell you to turn left down a road you’ve never been down. He may tell you to bite your tongue when you think you have the perfect thing to say. He may tell you to say the most off-the-wall awkward thing.
Know what? If He says to say it, and you actually DO, you will be AMAZED at what the Holy Spirit opens up for you. It’s flat out exhilarating to walk in the Spirit! It’s like a whirling waltz, never knowing where He’ll lead but giggling and trusting through all the turns. And you only become a great waltzer by practicing and stepping on some toes along the way as you learn to follow. That’s ok. You certainly won’t learn to waltz by sitting on the sidelines.
I’m sure there are other reasons we can forfeit a battle. But these are ways I’ve lost some battles. And I’m thankful for each defeat. Because it was never the last stand. We gain higher levels of authority in the midst of our battles and trials. So whether we rise or we fall, this is just one trial. We will always have another chance to try again. Maybe next time you go to battle, you will wear your armor, submit to the Commanding Chief, kill ’em with kindness, and win the victory!
The grace of it all is that we know without a doubt that the ultimate victory is the Lord’s! The battle belongs to the Lord! Truly.
Want a bonus tip? If all else fails, the fail-proof battle plan no matter what trial you face is PRAISE. Praise Him! He is worthy! Praise Him! His love never fails! Praise Him! At the end of the day, we don’t deserve a single bit of the goodness in our lives. It is all an over-paid, over-generous, unmerited, unearned gracious gift from God. Praise Him and Thank Him and you will surely find breakthrough. You will!
When it’s hard to wait, I love the verse that says, “Wait patiently on the Lord as He is patient with you.” Word!
Here’s my current fight song: