“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love [in his love he will no longer rebuke you]; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17, ESV [NIV]
Yesterday felt like it would never end.
I have been wrestling with sin in my own life lately, and of a kind that causes confusion and doubt and tension with my life in my local church. I was texting back and forth with a close discipler in my life, asking questions, pouring out my guts and frustration with myself, and all the insecurity that I’ve felt in the midst of the tension between who I once was, who I am, and who I should be by now.
After desperately typing out a “prayer” to God, and laying my guilt bare, with all the questions and doubts and ugliness that takes residence in my soul after long periods of trying to imitate my old self, my discipler confronted me with the reality that, as the old hymn says (which one of our professors quoted just last month),
“You ask why I am happy so I’ll just tell you why,
Because my sins are gone;
And when I meet the scoffers who ask me where they are,
I say, “My sins are gone.”
G O N E
The stage was set for God to pick me up off the floor.
Often times, music will help me re-orient to where my hope actually is in life, and sure enough, God used it to do just that. As I prayed and conversed with T (my discipler), one of Tenth Avenue North’s newer songs began playing.
I had heard it before, but this time, it hit me hard.
The song title is the title of this post, “Fighting For You,” and here’s a sampling of the lyrics:
Tell me you’re a lost cause / And maybe you’re too far gone
Oh, that’s not true / Yeah, that’s not true
I gave up my last breath / So you can breathe again
I died for you / I died for you
For you, my body was broken / So you are never forsaken
Start walking with your head held high
The future is bright / Heaven’s gates are open wide
Every trouble that you ever walk through / Peace, my child,
I am, I am fighting for you,
I am fighting for you
I would encourage anyone reading this to give the song a listen, so here’s a link:
What this helped me realize, as I’m sure you can tell from the lyrics, was that
No matter how grueling and hopeless the battle becomes, God is the true Warrior behind the fight—even mine.
And, frankly, he could care less about the pain he has to endure have us back from the Liar, the World, and ourselves.
And we think that our work is hard? We think our struggles are messy?
Next time you visit a cemetery, try digging up the decaying bodies of one of your dead loved ones without a shovel or gloves to keep the rot at a distance, and performing mouth-to-mouth.
Emotionally grotesque? Absolutely. Painful? Totally.
Disgusting and twisted? You bet ya.
Now, try and bring them back to life.
(Yeah, you knew I was going there)
No matter how hard you try to breathe into the corpse of what once was your loved one, it’s too late; death has taken them. They’re gone. And what is left of them is an empty shell so decayed it has swallowed up all chances of life.
But there is a kiss that is strong enough to make even dead people live. And that kiss was a Cross.
Words cannot describe the brutality of crucifixion, nor the death of an innocent and merciful Rabbi, and that is what most people cringed at at the site of Jesus on Calvary, if they weren’t part of the mocking party, of course.
But the reality is far more horrifying.
Heaven witnessed God suffering his own wrath; of a billion hells’ worth of torment dished out upon one man, who was also God. That is ugly. No wonder Jesus sweated blood at the prospect of it!
The man on the cross was a man on fire.
But the reality is that God, by unleashing fury upon his Son, was also wreaking havoc on all his enemies.
- Subjecting the evil spiritual authorities to open shame, destroying sin
(Col. 2:15; 1 John 3:8)
- Trampling our sins to powder and hurling them to the bottom of the ocean
- Shaming and breaking the codes of human culture
(1 Cor. 1:26-28)
God was fighting for us, in a bloody fight to the death, literally, but even death is victory, as with Aslan so with Jesus — if the evil one knew the true meaning of sacrifice, maybe he wouldn’t have been so eager to take out the Messiah.
But the blow has been dealt, and God has won
And the universe rings with the echoes of Jesus’ words 2,000 years ago:
IT IS FINISHED. (John 19:30)
Now we can say honestly, with Paul,
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere”
(2 Cor. 2:14)
1. Remember that God is singing over you.
And who’s to say that Tenth Avenue North didn’t tap into something real in their songwriting here? God is singing over you, joyfully, and triumphently—but the one who won the war still fights for us in the present battles we face in this world. So, when you have no song to sing, maybe it’s worth listening to his.
2. Let God quiet you by his love;
he will no longer rebuke you.
Controversial? For the legalist, absolutely. And I am a recovering one, as you can see from my uneasiness in the face of full forgiveness. But God is not lying to his people here, and this is clearly a Christ-promise. Become very acquainted with the grace paul spoke of in Romans 5:1. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you have come to Christ desperate and helpless, trusting only him for forgiveness, and seeking his power to change, this peace is yours for the taking—don’t settle for cheap contentment with sin, but seek the true rest that comes from a life reserved for God.
God’s love is one of those things in this world which human beings have not been given the ability to understand completely. But we are called to stretch. To stretch our hearts and minds so that we may get a taste of “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is,” and begin to “experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then [we] will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT).
3. Most importantly, let God save you with all his might.
This past Sunday at church, our young-adults pastor spoke on John 6, and what it means to believe. He used the incredible analogy of skateboarding to illustrate the kind of faith that Jesus calls us to as Christians. This kind of faith is to put one’s full weight on something. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty heavy most of the time, and there are things in my life that I doubt that Jesus could bear the whole weight of. But he wants me to fall on him, as heavy as I am.
This place, and, in a sense, this place alone, is where the power of God’s saving grace can lead to a full experience of him in our lives. He loves us, but it’s up to us to let him touch us in our most hidden areas—not in an abusive way, but as one would care for someone holistically in need of healing and embrace.
So fall on him.
Even if you fall like the tallest tree in the forest, fall. There’s a reason why falling is used to test one’s trust.
I don’t expect people to trust me with those kinds of things cause, as clumsy as I am, I would probably catch them and then drop them even worse.
But Jesus is not clumsy.
He has the best resume when it comes to the caring-for-literally-everything business. And people far more messed up than you have trusted in him, and get this: even David, the guy whose record before God included adultery and murder, could honestly say
“No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced”
(Psalm 25:3, NLT)
That is a tall order…
Really? Like, you’re saying, if I throw myself on Him, I’ll be able to look back at that decision without the smallest regret—like not even a doubt?
That’s exactly what I’m saying.
What may be true for everyone else in the universe is not necessarily true for God. That’s why we praise his holiness; his uniqueness. Let God be true, and every man be made a liar. HE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN.
To close, here’s a meditation from the beloved hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther, written back in 1529.
(Goofy sing alongs are permitted)
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.