My one memory from Africa is being frustrated and furious as a two or three year old because my Mum wouldn’t let me play outside when I wanted to. Her reason, which didn’t seem fair and was totally irrelevant to my life to my child mind: “there were terrorists fighting in our street the night before.” Although I shared this memory a few times over the years I didn’t really understand it until terrorism turned up in my backyard and turned a chocolate store into a battle ground in December 2014.
In the last few days the presidents of USA, Russia, North Korea and China have started a game of chicken – with nuclear warheads. Whatever the outcome they are likely to be safe in their bunkers while millions or billions of the rest of us are blasted to smithereens, just to prove who is bigger than whom.
Does this sabre rattling scare you? Does the thought of World War III potentially breaking out any day now give you the chills? It shouldn’t.
You can be War Ready now.
In fact, if you’re not living War Ready then when war comes (as the Bible promises it will) it will be too late to prepare.
No, I’m not a Dooms Day Prepper and I don’t stash canned food and guns. I recommend you don’t waste food and money like that either. There’s a much better and more exciting way to be War Ready that will benefit your life now and during war time.
It starts and ends with prayer.
My parents suddenly found their beloved country explode in civil war in their late teens. They had no control over it and then bang! It was here, in their backyard and all the young men, including my Dad, where forced to become soldiers and fight in a 5 sided war where leaders lied and violence reigned. Sanctions were placed on the country by world leaders and suddenly shop shelves were empty and basics became scarce.
In the midst of this God called my Dad to pioneer churches and travel hundreds of kilometres a week across roads laden with landmines and terrorists, while petrol and car parts were treasure. (Think about that for a moment, would You drive on a road you know has land mines in it? Would you?) Many men would have decided the risk was too high, especially as a husband and Dad of tiny girls. He did it anyway. He survived. The Gospel arrived to bring hope to people suffering as their land was ravished by war. My Dad survived when he should have died, time and again, because he prayed, listened to what God said and then obeyed, even when it made no sense.
Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew, Brother Yun and so many other believers who know the pain of persecution and being tortured for Christ share the same testimony about being War Ready. You need to be in daily, moment by moment, communication with Jesus Christ to survive, to thrive, in war time. You need to live that way now to be War Ready.
Jeremiah is one of my favourite Bible books. It has an interesting plot. It unpacks history in both a prophetic and a hindsight way. Jeremiah had one of the most difficult callings of all the Bible heroes. If you haven’t read it recently you should dig it out and give it a read again.
As I was reading Jeremiah 41 – 43 last night I was struck by this interesting turn of events. In chapter 21 God tells His people “Leave Judah as defectors and live. Stay in Judah and die.” In chapter 29 He tells those that defected to Bablyon “get comfy and build a life here in captivity and I will bless you (for the next 70 years until I rescue you)”.
In a total turn around in chapter 42 God says to the remnant who were abandoned in Judah by the Babylonians as too poor to be of value, “Stay here and live and prosper. Leave here, go to Egypt and die.”
First God says “leave and live, stay and die”, then He says “leave and die, stay and live.” It looks like a complete contradiction. Did God change His mind? No, He didn’t. In context you can see these two conversations between God and His people were some months apart. Circumstances had changed. Circumstances changed so God’ instructions on how to survive the current war situation also changed.
In war circumstances change quickly and very few, if anyone, really knows what’s going on. We, the people, only know what governments and the media decide to tell us. This is carefully crafted to tell us whatever message they want us to hear. It is full of lies and propaganda. Even if they told us the truth they can’t predict the future. Only God knows the future.
In war the only way to live is very close to God. To hear His words to you so you can move, stay, act, hide, whatever you need to do to give Him glory and be a shining light. You can’t thrive without Him.
To be War Ready you need to be living that way in peace time. We need to be actively waiting on God every day. Watching and listening for Him to say “go here, do that, wait… wait… go now, turn right, turn left.” My Mum uses her 55km each way commute every day to practise hearing God’s voice as she drives with Him, asking Him to guide which lane she drives in and which route to take to avoid accidents and road works. It’s her way of keeping her ear sharp to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice.
I currently lead a start-up charity in very strategic role where if I get my Plan for the Day wrong, I can easily burn out my team members or we can go bust, my team loses their jobs and local people in need lose our help, and poor around the globe suffer. My daily decisions affect thousands of people I don’t know and dozens of people I love. If I could read the future, predict the weather and knew competitor’s battle plans it would be a lot easier. But I can’t and I don’t. So this role keeps me in prayer throughout each work day. I have to seek and follow God’s guidance moment by moment to keep it all going. It’s not easy, it can be very stressful but it is exciting. It’s my personal War Ready preparation.
The Lil Nashes are wonderful, current example of a family that has to daily seek God’s guidance and obey. They are a gorgeous family of five battling the fallout of ongoing illness. Read their story here. You don’t have to be in a position of leadership to be War Ready and used by God. Corrie ten Boom was a nobody when her family hid Jews. The Lil Nashes are nobodies to the world but they are a family who is War Ready.
As WWIII threats to burst forth, it won’t be the Big Wigs who are War Ready to fight in God’s Resistance Army and make an impact for His Kingdom in difficult times, it will be us nobodies who are War Ready because we have practised seeking and obeying God’s leading in peace times. We will be the heroes who hide the hunted, share the Good News, bring comfort, hope and resources to the suffering. We will be the ones who see miracles happen and the Kingdom of God expand.
Living War Ready means that the adventurous blessings that come with hearing God’s direction daily translate into our peace time lives and we see miracles here and now. Live this adventure now. It’s exciting.
War overseas can scare us, the thought of war in our home country can terrify us. Whether it comes to us or not we do not need to be afraid, we need to live ready.
Let me leave you with a scripture our pastor shared in church yesterday. In John 14:27 Jesus is giving His disciples His final message and He includes this treasure “Peace I leave with you my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not our hearts be trouble, neither let them be afraid.” Jesus gave us His peace as a GIFT. We can accept and carry that gift into the adventures of our everyday lives, war or peace.