We who are Imperfect Conquerors


Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.
-Romans 8:37

Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.
-Woody Allen

As you can see, at times I veer between St. Paul and Woody Allen.

On my St. Paul days, I fully understand that God loves me. Forgives me, too, which is more of a plus than I’ll ever realize, and it feels great.

But then the Woody Allen in me kicks in with a nagging question:  “But is He really for me?”

Here’s another way of putting it: To what extent, if any, can I expect Him to bless my efforts, open the doors I hope to go through, and provide the time, money and energy I need?

When Paul says we’re More Than Conquerors, (Romans 8:37) maybe his definition isn’t the same as mine? Because of all the terms I’d slap onto myself, Joe the Conqueror wouldn’t be one of them. I’ve got way too much stress, too many unfinished projects, too much daily scrambling to keep up with what was due last month. All of which leaves me tempted to say to someone who calls me a Conqueror,  “Sure, Buddy. I’m a conqueror, and you’re a billionaire with 8% body fat. Let’s both dream.”

But then again, it’s good to remember what sort of men and women have traditionally conquered, even in the midst of great weakness or trial.

Elijah, according to James, prayed for rain and drought, both of which came despite him being a man like the rest of us. (James 5:17-18) Peter walked on water in exhausted fear, not triumphal cockiness (Matthew 14: 24-31) and he (essentially) got it right. So did Abraham, Moses, Rahab and David, imperfect conquerors all. My hope rises.

It gets better. When Joshua was commanded to lead Israel in its conquest of the Promised Land, God’s promises to His people and their leader were extravagant indeed: ownership of every square inch they walked on; an unstoppable status; guaranteed providence. (Joshua 1: 1-9)

This was by no means a perfect people, as everything in their pre and post Joshua history proves. In fact, Christians who’ve been around the block a few years will easily recognize modern church squabbles and power plays in some of the problems Israel had. Yet they conquered. The word applied to them, accurately and plainly.

There are contingencies, sure. God qualified His promises to Joshua by reminding him of his need to keep the people fixed on His commandments and precepts (Joshua 1: 7-8) But there was also – and here let’s really think this through – a command to be courageous, confident and strong. (Joshua 1:6-7;9)

I can almost hear God saying, Don’t insult me by implying I don’t know what I’m doing when I call you. When it comes to vessels, I choose; your job is to obey. Let’s keep the roles clear.

Because of course, the fitness of the vessel has never determined the power of the Almighty. Yes, as stewards, we have a mandate to strive for holy obedience in every area of life, and as human stewards, we fail that mandate, to a point, daily. Still, the User, not the vessel, works His purposes, calling an imperfect conqueror to conquer, bringing all the more credit to the Creator rather than the created.

So today, Lord, give us the faith we need to walk boldly through the doors You’ve opened, trusting Your ability to complete Your purposes in us, and resting in the titles You placed on us, both as Conquerors and Beloved. Amen.


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