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“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of olives, and His disciples followed Him.” Luke 22: 39
If we aren’t living every day aware that a spiritual battle is raging, we are ill-equipped to thrive. How we train for times of hardship or battle in the times of quiet and calm make all the difference when we face a trial.
I once heard a story that I believe reiterates this notion. Here is the story: Several years ago, there was a shootout between police officers and lawbreakers. The officers were killed in this shootout and upon analyzing the scene, what was found has since helped shape some police officer trainings.
Inside the police officer’s pockets were spent bullet casings. Strange, but upon reflection this anomaly was traced to poor training habits. At the firing range, these officers got in the habit of placing the spent bullets in their pockets before reloading and firing again to save time on cleanup afterwards. This became the habit instead of fire, reload, fire, reload, and eventually clean up. On the range, where reaction time isn’t imperative to survival this was fine, but on the job this could have been the reason they didn’t survive. What they practiced in the safety and calm of the range became so ingrained in them that in times of pressure and chaos it carried over.
Our spiritual behavior is the same. If we don’t believe that the forces of darkness are ever pressing toward us, we are mistaken. Sometimes things are calm and quiet while other times are not. It’s imperative for us to have the right “practices” in the gentler times, so that when trails arise we are prepared to fight full force and overcome.
God has designed us to be overcomers, and He equips us to overcome. We can only do this when we are deeply connected to Him. We can’t expect to be lackadaisical and carefree then call upon some “mystical force” to save us from trials. Overcoming trails looks different to the Lord than it does to the world. When we are connected to God, His will becomes clear to us, His mission becomes dear to us, and His ways become not so mysterious.
Gary Thomas asks “What is you Gethsemane?” After pondering this, I realized the importance of this question. Jesus didn’t just go to Gethsemane right before His crucifixion. Jesus had a habit of visiting this garden. Jesus went to this garden to pray and to teach His disciples. He was comfortable there. He connected with His Father deeply there. It makes sense that in the most intense moments, He would seek refuge in this garden.
I will echo this question. Do you have a place that you find solace and connection with the Father? Maybe it’s your kitchen table or a spot in your bedroom. Maybe it’s out back behind the barn or driving down a country road. It could be walking around a lake or through the woods. Find this place where you find connection, where you can connect with the Father. This place should be comfortable for you to speak, listen, pray, and read the Word. Find this place and guard it. Find this place and use it.
We don’t want to be found defeated with spent bullets in our pockets because we failed to train for battle. The enemy of our souls is real. The forces of darkness are ever present, but the Lord our God is mighty. The Lord our God will fight for us. The Lord our God has already given us all that we need to overcome. We need only seek Him, train for battle seriously, and lean on Him in all things.
“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
Judith Cooley teaches Language Arts and Drama. Follow her Facebook page @pondervotional for more encouragement.
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