Having spent much of my childhood in the southwestern part of the United States, I particularly enjoy old western movies, cowboy culture, and tales of early pioneering. Navigating the sparse and rugged terrain, avoiding the prevailing dangers from both beast and bandit, the continual struggle to get through it all alive; these are mirror images of our current existence. This is the new wild, Wild West!
Much like the settlers in the 1800’s we set out in life to pursue our dreams with high hopes and visions of a bright and happy future. We are eager to experience “the good life” and embark on our life journey with zest and ambition. Before many miles we begin to encounter the reality of life! Our enemy lurks in the shadows and seeks to thwart our plans, setting up snares and roadblocks of every sort. Away from established footing and the comforts of a well-worn path, we can easily slip and stumble. We find this biblical warning to be on high alert, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, and seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
You see, the faith journey from here to eternity is not one to embark on lightly. In fact, the Gospel of Matthew (7:13-14) tells us from the start that those who persevere to the end are few. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life; and only a few find it.” No doubt all of us are seeking a life filled with pleasure and promise, full of hope, and marked with success. That is exactly what our Lord desires for us as well!
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans that I have for you declared the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” In facing the difficult situations and amid the chaos of today, we can take comfort in knowing that while this is not a promise to immediately rescue us from our sufferings or hardships, it is a promise and reminder that God indeed has a plan for our lives. Regardless of our current circumstances or despite what we hear on the news, or whatever crisis we are facing, HE can work through it to prosper us and give us a certain hope! Be encouraged in that promise!
Recently, I found myself facing a very difficult circumstance that brought me much pain and disappointment. My heart experienced a deep sorrow and yet I knew God promised to be faithful to me as his beloved child. He had proven His love for me over and over; and had surrounded me with His presence and strength during the times of greatest challenge throughout my life, and I knew He’d be faithful to do so again! While feeling alone in my situation, I distinctly heard Him speak to my heart, “Circle the Wagons”! I wondered why this phrase had come to mind with such vividity.
It amazes me how often the Holy Spirit will bring things to our mind and teach or demonstrate divine principles based on our unique experiences or backstory. He knew this modern “parable” or analogy would resonate with me. It was time to take cover and get defensive!
It was time to take cover and get defensive!
Just as the pioneers of old prepared for imminent attack and protected their livestock and families within the circle, I knew there was greater safety “under cover” and better defense within the “wagon” perimeter. Matthew 18:19-20 says this, “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any one thing they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” So, I asked for fellow pioneers to “pray” and help me take cover. Prepared for the enemies attack, I was beyond touched and blessed to see and hear the number of responses to my request for prayer, the scripture (sword) that was wielded against the enemy, and the strength in numbers that enabled me to stand firm! The enemy was put to flight as the “circle of wagons” rallied around me!
We are indeed stronger together! We need one another in order to make it through this journey safely. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Now more than ever we need to be more loving, supporting, and praying one for another. Our enemy is waging war like never before. He is pilfering our pride, rifling our righteousness, molesting our morals, and terrorizing what we hold as truth! We need to be fixed in our position, resolute in our intentions, and determined to persevere to the end, to the glory of God!
In the well-known and beloved classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan we find these words:
“The hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
the difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart: let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way go,
than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
While the road may at times be weary, and our strength can at last fail, know that the very God who calmed the sea and spoke the galaxy into orbit, can speak calm into your storm, heal your circumstance, and bring peace that passes all understanding!
So, together let’s “circle the wagons”! And remember, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 Yes, She Rises!