Sick of it All

And the land had rest from war.” – Joshua 11:23prayer

Some people find conflict entertaining. (Remember the kids yelling “Fight! Fight!” in the schoolyard?) Me, I find it exhausting. I also find it everywhere, and it really gets old.

It also gets inevitable. There’s no ducking conflict. The trick is to accept it and deal with it without obsessing over it. As always, there are some good things to be found in the Word about this.

Conflict and Canaan

Joshua’s all about conflict. (The book, not the man, although the word applies well to both)  It’s an exciting and sobering look at Israel’s possession of Canaan and the variety of battles involved in that conquest.

I’m especially taken with its examples of warfare principles, principles I can apply while fighting my own battles and hopefully moving on, taking ground, conquering. If you haven’t yet gone through the book, let me strongly recommend it. It’s an exhilarating read, and it puts to subject of conflict into a new, positive light.

It’s also a reminder of how hard things can get. Moses had died, commissioning Joshua to lead the Hebrews through their transition from the desert into the promise, but the move wouldn’t be made without war. Canaan was a land to be fought for, not just comfortably relocated to, so while life was going to be immeasurably better for the Israelites, it would also become a series of battles.

Sometimes God would orchestrate a supernatural, mind blowing skirmish – Jericho and its falling walls come to mind – while other times it would be routine hand to hand combat. Either way, conflict was guaranteed,
and relentless.

So what’s new? Granted, most of us will never know military combat first hand, but conflict is, it seems, our daily bread.

Born for Battle …

It starts when we’re made alive in Christ, because then we begin walking a very different path, one that’s at odds with the world, our own flesh, and Satan himself. We used to be in the same lane with them all, as Paul told
the Ephesians:

“ — in times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” – Ephesians 2:2-4

There’s no way you can go against that much traffic without
regular skirmishes

So Israel began a new life, baptized when crossing the Jordan river, and entering a new level of consecration when entering Canaan. God directed them to take the land, which really means take over the land, driving the inhabitants out. The inhabitants, understandably, don’t want to give up their territory.

And so it begins, one fight after another. At some point, for Joshua and the people, it must have gotten old.

… and Bored with Battle

It sure does for me. I love the “from death to life” transition, but the battles, while sometimes exciting, are also a daily drain.

I’m in conflict with a world that advertises and recommends the very things I’m striving to keep myself from. I’m also in conflict with my own desires that are routinely in conflict with what matters most to me. Not to mention a devil who hates me primarily because of Who I belong to, and who never stops trying to find new ways to trip me up.

In fact, conflicts seem to mark everything I see these days. Friends and co-workers strive with each other; political parties vie for credibility (can credibility and politics really be put in the same sentence?) and family members quarrel. Hassle, strife, division everywhere. At any given time Mother Teresa herself would say “I’m sick of it all.”

Then again, maybe we should be. Paul wrote something that’s always intrigued me, in Romans 8:22:

“For we know that all creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now.”

Even the earth knows something’s wrong. Remember when God told Adam and Eve what life would be like once they’d sinned? In essence, in Genesis 3:17-19 He announced that they’d experience all sort of struggles He never meant them to have.

They’d be in conflict with their own bodies, which would decay. They’d be in conflict with each other. They’d be in conflict with the environment. There’d be ongoing struggle at all levels, struggles that would become part and parcel of life in this fallen realm.

So now, all creation groans, waiting for the day when God’s children are fully manifested, Christ reigns, and the sin creating the struggles will be put
away forever.

This weekend, while struggling with more problems than I think I can handle, I’m determined to remember the lesson in all this:

The struggle I’m sick of  is a reminder that I’m a pilgrim in this place, working through the conflicts He commissions me to fight, while waiting for the day when once and for all the land, and me, will finally have rest.

John Lennon famously wrote that we should imagine such a day, but I’ve got a better idea. I’ll wait for it, because it’s already been promised, not just imagined. It will be no product of lyrics and ideals, but the end result of my loving Father’s plan.

On that note, I can take a few deep breaths and say, as my hero Joshua must have said in his own way, “Bring it on.”


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