by Addison Cagle
Battles are easy when you know what’s coming. It’s the unexpected that induces fear. When we’re afraid, we naturally behave one of two ways: either we run, or we fight in our own strength, leaning on our own understanding. From recent experience I know that this only results in self-inflicted harm. In these moments, God wants us to be still and seek Him.
The harm may not have been physical, but injury nonetheless. The collateral damage fell on those who loved me the most. Through such failure I learned things about myself that I despised. I could not see past my deliberate choices to reject the blessings God had offered me. I greatly lamented my inability to see what He had set before me in the present as I had my eyes set on my own ideas of what the future may bring. The enemy used my fearful nature to take things away from me, and to take me away from others.
After all this had concluded, you can imagine how much I blamed myself. I was defeated. But after analyzing over and over where I went wrong and how to undo my mistakes (which, by the way, trying to undo my mistakes has been my greatest mistake of all), and after remembering that the past cannot be changed, something hit me. I may have been defeated, but whether or not I remained defeated was my choice.
It was at this point I realized I didn’t just fail to defend my territory—I had been captured. I had become a prisoner of war. I sat behind bars peering out at the life that could have been if only I had done things differently. Posted upon my cell door was a sign which labeled my cell. While the more worldly prisoners around me were in cells labeled “self-love,” mine was labeled “self-hate.” But these labels became irrelevant when I recalled we were all in the same prison named “self-focus.”
One day, when all hope seemed lost, a visitor came to me. He consoled me. “Friend,” He said, “do not be discouraged. The enemy has fixed his weapons on you because you pose a threat to him. You can see he has attacked your career, your relationships, and even your well-being, for they all put him in danger. He has targeted you with the intended effect of destruction. But here am I—I have targeted you with the guaranteed effect of restoration. You may have been defeated, but together we cannot be. The war is not over. I have paid your bail. You’re going to get back in this fight, and we will be victorious.”
He offered to set me free, under the sole condition that I accept this call and trust Him enough to follow Him. He handed me a key which could unlock every cell in that prison. Its inscription reads “self-denial.”
So, that’s what I have decided to do. I have chosen to quit focusing on myself and focus instead on what’s in front of me. I will not blame, praise, nor pity myself. Self is out of the scope of my life. No matter what’s in it for me, I will follow my Rescuer. I will no longer pursue my own interests; rather, I will accept the blessings He offers me throughout my quest for His kingdom and righteousness with gratitude and humility. I will fight on, one step of faith at a time.
So help me, God. In the very Name which means “God Saves,” the name of Jesus, Amen.
Luke 9:23 (KJV):
And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”