Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I don't want to be a chariot truster.

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God" (Ps. 20:7, KJV).

This verse came to me this morning. My husband and I are under intense spiritual attack right now. We knew the attacks would worsen once he was ordained as a pastor a few weeks ago, and we thought we were prepared. Spiritual warfare, however, has been taken to a whole new level, in multiple ways. Attacks have seemingly been coming from every side. I started thinking about what I could do to head off the attacks, how I could fix things, what I could do for plan B, who we have in our lives that could help us. Then I remembered this verse.

There have been two other times in my life, besides now, where this verse got me through. One is a time before I knew God- but looking back in retrospect, I saw God working this promise out in my life even before I was willing to accept Him- because He loves us even when we refuse to love Him. It was in 2008, when I was at the height of my drug addiction. My life was a disaster - in and out of jail, I had lost custody of my kids, hopelessly addicted and had just finished my 13th drug rehab (which I only went to avoid prison time) and I had criminal charges in five different counties that I was on probation for. I had no job, but my boyfriend did. At the time, he was my only reason for wanting to continue to survive. Then one morning in May I woke up and found him hanging by an electrical cord around his neck from the rafter in our basement. 

His suicide made me lose the small reasoning I had for trying to hold on to life. I was done fighting. I had no will to live, and had no idea how I could live even if I wanted to. I had no idea where I would live now that he was dead and couldn't pay the bills, and none of my relatives (rightly) trusted me to be in their homes - especially since his suicide made my instability that much more unstable. I had no idea how I was going to eat, how I was going to pay off my probation fines every month (which meant going back to jail), but most importantly I had no idea how it would ever be possible for my life to be redeemed from that point if I was forced to continue living. 

I remember sitting besides his casket at his wake, hopeless and distraught, with those thoughts running through my head. Then, clear as day, I heard a voice tell me that it was going to be okay. As I stared at my dead boyfriend in the funeral parlor, I remember screaming to myself "how is this ok? This is the furthest away from ok that you can get! There is no fixing this!"

And I was right. I couldn't fix it. No human could. 

Not too long after, however, I learned that God specializes in fixing the impossible. It was through my boyfriend's death that I ultimately got desperate enough to surrender to God, and he made a way where there was no way. He placed me in a Christian restoration home where I was not only taken care of, housed, and fed, but I was able to get to know Him in a way I never would have been able to otherwise.  He used that horrible time in my life to draw me to himself, healed me from drug addiction, gave me joy and a purpose again, turned my past from something to be ashamed of into a testimony to help others, and gave me a family. It was a long road, but He showed up. I would have never have dreamed that day in the funeral home that God could turn that situation around. But where I only saw problems, God had a plan all along. I was just too entrenched in my circumstances to be able to believe it. 

The second time in my life this verse really got me through was when my husband and I moved to Marshfield from the ministry we had been in for years in Milwaukee. When we came up here, we had nothing but our bibles and some clothes. We didn't know where we would live, how we would pay bills, how we would get furniture or food, or how we would get around with no car. We had no idea what we were doing here, but we went because God told us to go - and take nothing with us. And He provided in more ways than we could imagine, even when we didn't see how it would happen. Even when WE couldn't make it happen. 

Both times, God showed up. He provided. He says He will never leave or forsake us. And He doesn't lie. 

God had it all along. He always will. Why I act like an Isrealite so many times in my life and start wondering if God has freed me from Egypt just to let me die in the desert is beyond me. He has proven his faithfulness over and over again. Everything comes through Him- every help, every escape, every resource, every open door. And He has a good plan for my life, even when it makes no sense to me. He has shown me that over and over again, and I feel like he is using our current situation to remind me of that and my need to be dependent on Him and Him alone, because He is more than enough and can make a way out of no way. 

When we try to make things happen or worry or look at the resources around us and put our faith in those things instead of God, we are trusting in chariots. When we trust in credit scores or bank accounts or manpower or battle plans or our own self reliance, We are trusting in the created instead of the creator. We are thinking about how we can take care of ourselves instead of trusting in the one who holds the world in the palm of His hand, and whose thoughts are too wonderful for us to understand. 

Sometimes God closes doors because He doesn't intend for there to be a human solution.  He wants to show up in a way where there is no doubt that it was Him, and Him alone that brought you through. He wants to build our faith, show His glory, and display just how much He loves us and is willing to step up for His child. 

Here’s what’s interesting. Although their enemies used horses and chariots in battle, initially God prohibited the children of Israel from even having horses! (Deut. 17:16). 

Imagine the terror the people of Israel must have felt whenever they looked across the valley and saw their enemies lined up in these menacing machines of war, ready to attack.  I know I can feel that way when circumstances are out of my control and I have no idea how I will make it out. Yet look how God instructed them to face their enemies on the battlefield:

"When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. ... For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you" (Deut. 20:1, 4).

You would think that not having horses or chariots would have made Israel extremely vulnerable against her enemies. So why did the Lord forbid them to multiply horses? The Word tells us why:

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright" (Ps. 20:7-8).

God wanted Israel to trust in Him, not horses and chariots, and not their own battle plans. When they faced their enemy on the battlefield, they were to remember how He and He alone - not their weapons, not their intelligence, not their self sufficiency, not their manpower - had delivered them in times past. They were to remember how He delivered them from Egypt’s chariots at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:7). Their faith was to be in Him, not their own ability  (that's why God became so angry at David for taking the census in 1 Chronicles 21- he turned his faith from God to his army). God alone was their battle plan. 

As they remembered Him, they put their trust in Him. And He delivered them. He has done so for me too, and will again. 

When we are in the heat of the battle and it looks like the enemy is closing in, we need to go back and remember all that the Lord has brought us through. He has not changed. Just as He brought us through the trials of yesterday, He will bring us through the trials of today and tomorrow too.

I don't want to put my trust in chariots, though it is the first reaction of my flesh. Chariots have no power. God alone does, and He is the only one who can save. I pray that God gives me the strength to rely on Him and Him alone, because He is all I need, and has a solution for every battle I face. 

"Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13-14.