(Written 9/12/20)

Yesterday was the 19-year remembrance of the terrorist attacks. It’s hard to forget those things that seem unimaginable. My mother’s generation can very clearly recall where they were and what they were doing when they first heard that President Kennedy had been shot. My generation will remember the confusion we felt as we went to work. The attack and the news on the attack unfolded as we clocked in for work that morning. By the end of the day, I was genuinely worried about the kind of world my daughter would be born into only nine days later.

Nineteen years later and we’re under the attack of an unexpected enemy that we are only now beginning to understand. What we do know for certain is that many lives have been lost to a virus pandemic. COVID-19 has changed the way we do life, essentially hijacking our day-to-day activities, from seeing a movie to going to church, work, or school. It’s also revealed some of the best and some of the worst in out humanity.

Australia had already had one of the most devastating fires they’d ever seen, killer hornets were on their way (which brought back the memory of every killer bee movie I’d seen when I was much younger), the black community and their supporters determined that George Floyd absolutely would not be just another death this time. Megan and Harry said farewell to the royal life, that “little rocket man” was MIA for awhile, and the democrats just couldn’t seem to get rid of President Trump no matter how hard they tried. And they tried!

All in all, 2020 has become a good year to forget! And we’re not done yet. Even here in south central Minnesota, Summer has packed her bags and left without giving Fall a proper pass of the baton!

It’s no surprise that Christians are wondering if these are the end times. Is Christ ready for his Second Coming? None one knows. Not even Christ himself.

The other day, I was listening to a sermon from Alistair Begg. He was addressing the concerns of his audience. Just how bad does it have to be in order for it to be bad enough? (And remember, we’re looking at mankind’s words and deeds; God also sees the cruelty and utter depravity of our hearts.) Begg supposed it was something we were all wondering, especially “in light of recent events.” I naturally assumed it was one of his most current sermons, but it wasn’t. The recent events he referred to were the bombing in Paris and so many other terrorist activities. Apparently, things weren’t bad enough in November of 2015. The genocides in Germany weren’t bad enough. WWI, the “war to end all wars,”  wasn’t bad enough. They weren’t bad enough so many times when humanity felt it was hanging by a very thin thread.

I don’t know what “bad enough” will look like, but I’m in no hurry to find out. I think the only thing staying God’s hand has to be that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV). I have n o doubt the heart of our Abba is breaking, but although he knows he wins in the end, he plans to lose as few of his creations as possible to the enemy.  That can only mean one thing….

We’re still at war!

Brothers and sisters in Christ,  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling an urgency to take my Armor of God out of storage and check out the user’s manual.

Those of us – like me – who have been content to have heard the stories about God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit, may want to get to know the Creator behind those stories more intimately. The Lord is our Shepherd, our God is our true north, and The Holy Spirit will tell us what is truth amid the lies and the “not-technically-wrong” things we are told.

While I’m as worried as the next person, I’m even more concerned about why the world and those in it are even able to entertain an ugly indifference to the pain and humanity of others, to stop seeing sin as sin but rather “an issue” to be discussed in therapy and normalized by advocates of aberrant acts against the weaker population.

Then I remember the words of a young man I met in our office. He was in summer ministry.  The riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd were only a few days old, and I was interested to hear what this young man, who was as dark as I am pale, had to say about the situation. 

The first thing he did was remind me that Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “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.” The problem isn’t a president or protesters. The problem is the enemy whose dominion is the Earth and on it. It’s become too easy to stand aside as Satan takes what he has no right to. It’s too easy to see the horrifying things people do to each other and shrug because we don’t know what to do about it. It’s too easy to feel defeated when one school shooting is followed by three more. What can we possibly do about it?

I’m not so sure we are called to solve the problems of the world. Perhaps we’re called to trust deeply the One who can solve those problems and to kneel in unceasing prayer. We do what we can and then stand. It’s time for us to protect ourselves with the Armor of God, be familiar with its defensive weapons, and love others enough to pray for them, their protection and salvation. And we hold up the hands of our prayer warriors and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

If this isn’t the end game, then the clock’s still ticking, the score isn’t final, and we can’t let the enemy act like some Pokemon character who’s hell bent on catching them all. It may be that those of us – like myself – who have been overly focused on the pains of our individual pasts and the cutting insults from others, get in the game.

You are loved! We need to accept that so we can move on. Some of us may need to put some ice on our injury, wrap it up, and play hurt. I honestly don’t intend to disrespect what anyone has endured or experienced in physical or emotional assaults. I’ve had to escape my childhood home, myself. I’m still angry and scared and hurt. I’m still working on forgiveness. But Satan is more than happy to let me lick my wounds for another 10 years if that’s what I want to do. It keeps me distracted and he doesn’t have to lift a finger to keep me on the bench. But I know that my pain doesn’t compare to the pain others are living in now and will feel for eternity if I sit out the game. Personally, I know I need to stop acting like my past is more important than someone else’s future.

While there’s still time in the game, let’s suit up! It’s not over ’til it’s over. Our victory is guaranteed. Our comfort is not, but our victory is. The question is, which rules are you playing by? Those meant for Satan’s dominion or those in the heavenly realm? And just how many souls are we willing to lose because the enemy “just wanted it more than we did”? Is that really going to be our post-game defense for losing? Unfortunately it’s the sad truth, but it’s one of the lamest excuses we could hope to use when we face God!

God loves his children dearly – those who have accepted his Son and those who haven’t yet. We don’t have to like them all, but we do need to love them enough to fight for them. Just remember, you didn’t deserve your salvation either; but you were still loved enough to be offered it.