Christians live in the midst of a battle. There is a war of the ages raging in the heavenlies. There are periods of intense battle. There are periods of rest on all sides. There is always a tension though of good and evil in battle, of Satan working to steal, kill, and destroy, and Jesus working to redeem, restore, and give abundant life.
We have to be ready for battle. God trains our hands for war. Training happens during times of peace. Periods of rest aren’t for the ease and comfort of our flesh. Ease and comfort are enemies! They make us fat and lazy, spiritually and physically. That’s what I would always say about America; it makes you fat and lazy, spiritually and physically. We need to be prepared for battle. We need to submit to the training.
What does training for battle look like? What does training for war look like? It looks like a lot of discipline. It looks like early mornings and late nights. It looks like being prepared in and out of season to share God’s word. It looks like changing direction when the wind blows a new way. It looks like devouring God’s word and praying at all times.
The battle also looks a lot like that. Ephesians 6 is where we find the famous armor of God portion of Scripture. After it lists all those pieces of armor, it tells us what to do with them. It says to pray at all times for all the saints. That’s the battle.
It looks a lot like training because that’s the point of training, to simulate the battle, to practice and drill what you will be doing in battle so that when the time comes, you know what to do. The training needs to be thorough so the reflex in battle is the correct response to the situation.
Our correct response in battle is prayer; it’s turning to God first. It’s calling on Jesus to be Savior. It’s being still and knowing He is God and deliverer and help in times of trouble.
There are two points of trouble. We run into trouble if God gives us rest on all sides and instead of training for battle, we take our ease. Look at Solomon as someone who didn’t train for war when given rest and how he fell to the enemy’s trap of worshiping foreign gods.
We can also run into trouble if there is a battle and we decided we need rest. Look at David who stayed home when the other kings went out to war and instead of winning a victory in the name of the Lord, he fell into sin that would mar the rest of his life.
There is rest for a believer, but it doesn’t look like the world’s rest. It’s not kicking back the feet and getting some “deserved relaxation.” It’s certainly not consuming entertainment or satisfying the lusts of the flesh. Rest for the believer is a constant state. It comes from within, not from without. Without looks like war, fighting or training. It’s a constant process. There is no rest from the battle.
There is a rest for the believer, though. It’s knowing that the battle is won, that there is no weight on your shoulders, that you just have to look to Jesus and you have the salvation, the deliverance. It’s knowing the work is finished; it has been accomplished; you just have to be still and know He is God, and you will see His salvation.
Our stillness is internal. We are called to action. We get up and pray. We study the Bible. We help the poor. We share the gospel. We pray for others and meet needs. We serve the Body with our gifts. We work, but we work from a place of rest, knowing we have nothing of ourselves to offer anyone. We know that it’s all His work, that we can accomplish nothing. And we are free from the burden of trying to do for God and others and instead are freed to just love God and others and let Him take it from there.