Front Line or Civilian? (Ros' Blog)
By Mandy Edwards
Back in early 2015 Mandy Edwards wrote this blog for us. Now she’s back again with more insights, and I am enjoying following the journey that God is taking her on. Mandy writes:
I had a mind-blowing revelation last night. Boom! Just as my eyes finally closed after a particularly challenging day it hit me hard. I live in the aftermath of a serious spinal injury 6 years ago so my idea of a busy day would be very different than most, as I was registered disabled with care needs after the accident. My son and canine partner still live with me and give me so much support but day-to-day life remains a challenge. I can’t work yet but am trying to rebuild my mobility and grab back lost health so I can one day. It’s exhausting as everything takes so much longer and I am often hampered by frustration. I’ve made so much progress since my wheelchair days but chronic pain is still an on-going issue. As a result I usually sleep badly and tonight I’d been grateful when my eyes finally began to droop.
As the vision flooded my mind my eyes flew wide open, and I felt alive for the first time in 6 years. I had finally got it! I could have power. I could have authority but it wouldn’t be mine! It would be God’s. My vessel was broken and I was officially feeble but that was the point wasn’t it? A cracked vessel may be damaged but it’s those very cracks that allow the light to shine through! That’s why God has often chosen the damaged, rejected and scorned.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1. 27)
In my vision, to access His power I’d got to know Him better. To get to know Him better I’d immersed myself in His Word. The Bible wasn’t just a 2000-year-old historical document. It was a Living document, pulsing with His power! The purpose of reading it was to encounter Him in its pages. So I began a campaign of study, rising an hour and a half earlier every day so I could fit it in before my physical challenges distracted me. As that vision faded I’d leant across my bed and grabbed my Bible to find the right section. There it was.
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. (Ephesians 6. 12)
We are in a Holy War! We are all soldiers in a battle but it isn’t the usual kind of battle. We are fighting against unseen but very powerful forces. Satan, the Prince of this world, and his foot soldiers are everywhere, both on earth and in the supernatural realm, tormenting us with feelings of anger, hate, greed, dissatisfaction, lust, doubt, despair, jealousy and frustration and leading us astray through counterfeit spirituality. This is real and it finally answered that question that had tormented me since my accident. Why did a loving God allow suffering?
The army is an organisation full of soldiers from the Private to the Field Marshall. It’s the foot soldier that is most likely to get wounded, and it’s the brigadiers and commanders who make critical decisions about where and when the platoons and companies will be mobilised. They are the brains of the operation and the privates are the marching feet, the ones most likely to be shot at, blown up, killed or maimed. Yet God’s army is very different. He did not strategize behind the lines and send out His foot soldiers. He sent out His only son Jesus to become human, to don his private’s uniform and go out in front of us as a foot soldier. Jesus Christ took the first fatal hit and showed us that physical death is not the end and not to be feared. He never promised us that we wouldn’t suffer but He did promise us something far more precious. He promised us that he would go ahead of us and prepare a place for us in heaven so that we could live with Him for all eternity.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John14. 3)
The more we suffer in life the closer we draw to Christ’s suffering and to Christ Himself. If we are living happy, uncomplicated lives, apparently free from suffering and pain then we miss out on the experience Paul called 'the fellowship of His sufferings'.
Some of us fight the fight but then become immobilised by pain, anger, fear, disease or disability (I’m a good example of this) and become bitter when our battle wounds disrupt our lives. Yet history has shown us that in God’s hands battle wounds can become powerful weapons. Some of His casualties have gone on to become powerful Generals in this Holy war, recruiting thousands for Him. Joni Eareckson Tada became paraplegic at 17. Now she is an evangelical speaker, author and founder of Joni and Friends, a charity that provides wheelchairs across the third world for those with disabilities. Christine Caine, a child abuse survivor, founded the A21 campaign which rescues victims of sex trafficking and fights to abolish it in south-eastern Europe. John Ramirez had an impoverished childhood, became a high ranking satanic warlord and recruited thousands for Satan. He is now an International evangelist, author and the founder of John Ramirez ministries. Cracked vessels who have shone far and wide for Christ. No soldier who signs a contract with the army signs that contract conditionally, provided they don’t get hurt! No Field Marshall can offer that condition. So as Christians we need to be prepared to sign our contracts unconditionally. We won’t be offered a pain free life but we can be certain that we will never die.
To be invincible we need to stand together, accept each other ‘warts and all’ and work together with one vision. If we fight amongst ourselves we will lose the war. We need to stand united. We are the body of Christ and we all have different roles but like any human body we all need to be functional for the body to thrive. We all know that it takes just one hormone, enzyme or blood cell level to be out of sync for an entire body to become really sick. We must not exclude anyone or discourage their contributions, however vulnerable or different they seem to us. We are in this war together and all of us have a part to play. It is not for us to judge another’s worthiness, that’s up to God. Whenever I get stuck on this point (someone irritates or frustrates me) I just imagine how I must appear to God right now. Standing there all dirty and scuffed and covered in muck complaining about one of His other children! Strange how that feeling of irritation magically disappears when I think this way. We also need to make sure that all our soldiers are spiritually prepared and protected in battle.
We need God’s armour of honesty, integrity, courage through the Gospel of peace, right mind set, unshakable faith and a daily focus on the Word of God.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6. 14-17)
For years I had experienced both suffering and a passion for Christ’s love but I didn’t study His Word every day. I didn’t know Christ’s personality because I didn’t take the time to become His personal friend. Many of us will turn to our family and closest friends for help when we feel troubled and accept their advice even when we would rather do something different. Why do we do this? Because we have lived with them, spent quality time with them, and know that they ‘get’ the real us. Christ knows each of us intimately but can we say the same the same about Him? I went to church religiously and listened to the Word eagerly but only got a snapshot view. How could I understand Christ if I wasn’t willing to spend the time every day to “get Him” too? On my Christian journey I have learnt one important fact by trial and error. The Word of God is as important to us as water and food. Without it we die. But if Christ is our Field Marshall we can never die.