The Battle Is the Lord’s

800px-Åhus_kyrka-09_optDear Bob Sorge,

A long time ago you wrote a song that said this:

An army had arisen against Israel

the Moabites and Ammonites of Edom

the Spirit of the Lord spoke through His prophet

“the battle is not yours but it is God’s”

This was, of course, based on this Bible verse:

Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.

At a point in my life I was sad, sad enough that there is no better word than “sad” for what I felt. That the battle was not mine, but God’s was a hard word. I  wanted to do something. After all, wasn’t there something clever I could say or do to stop the bad things from happening? Letting God act seemed like giving up or an excuse for doing nothing.

This was entirely wrong.

God was not calling me to be passive, but to actively cooperate with His will. My job was to create beauty, to praise God. His job was to win the battles that needed to be won. Of course, at times God wishes us to fight, that particular participation in His plan can help us grow up. Other times, God reminds us that we can simply be there for the victory.

The battle is, after all, not ours, but it is God’s.

God is God. He has the power and the plan and all will be well and jolly and good and beautiful in the end no matter what I do, but I can be a part of the jollification. God does not need me, but I can be there.

It is easy to think that God needs me: my cleverness, my wit, my words. The good news is that God is not desperate, God can win the fights that must be won without us. He lets us participate for the joy of it. If they kill us, the martyrdom that comes to so many, we see God and win. If they convert, we gain friends and win. If our enemies are defeated, then all is well.

Sometimes God asks us to do the fighting. Sometimes God asks us merely to watch. Why? God is a good dad and will let us fight when it will help us grow and watch when the battle is beyond our capability.

We must be careful not to be functional atheists. Some of us act as if our inaction, or “merely” praying and praising, will lead to certain defeat. Yet it is God and God’s work that will bring the victory. I recall facing a dialog with a person and preparing hard. Just before I got ready to speak, my Mom and Dad sent me an email reminding me of what God might be doing in the life of that man.

I changed what I had to say and it was better. The battle was God’s. God gave me the words.

All of this thinking, such as it is, began when I was sad and you wrote a song. You said: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good . . . ” and I realized that this was good for me. God did not need my praise. God did not become more godlike with my acknowledgment that His mercy and grace are everlasting. Instead, God let me enjoy being a man: participating in the Divine plan, God’s plan.

You were right: the battle was not mime, but God’s.

Thank you, Bob.

Under the Mercy,
John Mark


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