“When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, ‘Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.’ Then let the officers step up and speak to the troops: ‘Is there a man here who has built a new house but hasn’t yet dedicated it? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man dedicate it. And is there a man here who has planted a vineyard but hasn’t yet enjoyed the grapes? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man enjoy the grapes. Is there a man here engaged to marry who hasn’t yet taken his wife? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man take her.’ The officers will then continue, ‘And is there a man here who is wavering in resolve and afraid? Let him go home right now so that he doesn’t infect his fellows with his timidity and cowardly spirit’.” Deuteronomy 20:1-8 (MSG)
Think of a time when you worked really hard for a win. Maybe you trained all year to get 1st place in the track meet, or you practiced basketball, football, or soccer with your team to finally win the championship. Maybe you entered a music competition and actually won. When we engage in the preparation and struggle to win, the victory is so much sweeter, because you had “skin” in the game.
In Deuteronomy, Moses was giving the Israelites instructions on how to live as they entered the Promised Land. Interestingly, their biggest battles that they had yet to face were going to be in the Promised Land. They had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. So, God had some specific military instructions for them. As they were going into battle, the officers were instructed to send troops home if they met certain conditions. Although it seems like an ill-thought out military strategy, God knew that the attitude of the people going up to fight would affect the resolve of everyone. If someone was afraid, they were asked to go home and not fight. An attitude of fear and cowardliness infects everyone. Acting cowardly is the opposite of courage. As the Israelites were fighting battles, they needed people that would move forward in faith and not shrink back in fear. Yet, the person who went home afraid did not share the victory in the same way as the other troops. Yes, he was a recipient of God’s overall victory, but he didn’t have an active role in the battle. Sometimes we think that when we are following God and are in the center of his will that there will be no challenges or battles. However, this is not true. There will be battles, but we get to choose our attitude. Will we shrink back in fear? If we do, then we are seemingly disqualifying ourselves before we even start. God wants to bring about greater victories in your life. But, we play an active role in the victories; He is asking us to step out in courage. If God handed us every victory on a silver platter, we would have no appreciation for his provision and strength. So, God invites us to partner with him in faith and fight the battles that will bring victory to our life and those around us. There are greater things God wants to use you to accomplish in the world. God is whispering your name, inviting you on a great adventure. It won’t be easy or without battles, but it will transform your life. You can always know when someone has been through a battle in life, walking with God. Their faith and courage radiate from their life, and there is an unusual confidence in God’s faithfulness. I don’t know about you, but I want to be that person. I want to choose faith over fear and courageously face the battles before me. So, as you face your next battle, don’t run away in fear; choose to rise up in courage, confident that the God of the universe is going before you!
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.