I was having a conversation with my Pastor (a 20-year Navy vet) regarding my spiritual skirmishes of late. I told him that it really seemed to me that the past two weeks or so have felt like a spiritual “Omaha Beach.” If you are not a WWII buff, click here to understand the import of such a statement. To another friend, I wrote:
I also know that my friend (her name) has prayed for brokenness for years. I have not prayed for that (perhaps I ought to have); but it is being thrust upon me. The biggest discovery I have made in recent months is that much of the process of the breaking of self is infused with self-denial. That might be obvious; but then again, not. Saying “no” to me is a 24/7 occupation:
- No, stop thinking that thing.
- No, don’t react in that way.
- No, eating that thing will be slow suicide for you.
- No, don’t even manifest that facial expression.
- No, don’t say that–even if you perceive it to be well-deserved.
- No, don’t stay wallowing in bed–get up and meet with your God.
- No, don’t form that opinion.
- No, don’t indulge in sarcasm.
- No, don’t lean upon your own understanding.
I could go on and on (and on); but you get the idea (and could probably write an extensive list of your own, as you’ve been at this for some time). I have been in some serious school myself these past days. It has been Omaha Beach–“troubled on every side…without were fightings, within were fears.” I have never played “duck and cover” so feverishly as I have recently.
This was a valuable thing to read today:
“Hearts that are ‘fit to break’ with love for the Godhead are those who have been in the Presence and have looked with opened eye upon the majesty of Deity. Men of the breaking hearts had a quality about them not known to or understood by common men. They habitually spoke with spiritual authority. They had been in the presence of God and they reported what they saw there.
They were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen. The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen. there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are overrun today with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the wonder that is God. And yet, thus to penetrate, to push in sensitive living experience into the Holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God.” A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, pp.42-43
Anyway, in response to my comments, my Pastor’s wise reply was,
I have often pondered the term “good ground.” It is a phrase used in many ways and for many reasons. For me the greatest significance is the reference to it in battles during the civil war. We find it used frequently in movies because it was used frequently on the real civil war battle field. This was the last battle of gentlemen, and they communicated in a very poetic fashion. This is good ground from which to defend our position, to put up a fight for life and freedom. This [the above Tozer quote] is good ground from which to fight a battle that can take our very lives, but could free our very existence…Remember one thing though – no battle was ever won in retreat, only with advancement, even in the face of overwhelming odds. No leader, equally, ever succeeded without placing themselves in a position to see the battle field clearly. This meant placing themselves in harms way in every engagement. On Omaha Beach every senior officer that lead effectively did so among the flying lead, not from the protection of cover. We either face the fact that we are here for purpose, and when that purpose is complete, so are we. Or we hold on foolishly to our own lives attempting to forestall events determined by our Great God. When we face “His will be done” in frontal assault, we find greater success than if we cower behind the barricade of our fear of eternity waiting for others to charge and us to follow. I believe you continue to charge, just as [my wife] has done for so many years, regardless of the onslaught of Satan upon your body. [My wife], you… and many others we have met over the years with these strange physical debilitating situations, people so afflicted they are incapacitated; yet they continue to move forward – pushing to the limit of physical ability and beyond some times.
Take some time and read 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. Oh, the earthiness of ourselves…Oh, the excellency of His power!