The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
– Isaiah 61:1-3
We are perennial children in the world of the flesh, in that small, petty, old world of ours. We begin as children from childhood: we continue to be children through our adolescence and all the way into adulthood; we remain children into our middle years; and, as our lives wind down into old age, we are children all the while. All of these stages of development, of apparent growth and maturity, are arbitrary and meaningless. Everyone goes through puberty! Everyone becomes a legal adult, grows taller, develops socially, chooses their own careers and clothes and companions, gets greyer on top and stooped in the shoulders, sags where they don’t want to sag and sees less of their life ahead than they have behind them. And everyone is fooled by the illusion of adulthood at some point. Everyone is tricked into thinking that they’ve grown up, matured into wisdom, just by having to renew a passport or sign a legal document or two. Everyone is deluded into thinking of themselves as adults by the simple physical act of having children of their own. And if everyone does it, at the same time of life and without any effort on his or her part whatsoever, then I’m afraid it’s not all that special a thing.
The truth is that the world is a place of delusions such as these. It’s easy enough to be deluded and to fool others in turn – we do it all the time. Like children, we think of unimportant things as vitally important – things like wealth, possessions, status with other children, we believe are of paramount importance, sometimes to the exclusion of all else, like insisting that we have the finest toys or the right to play with the toys of the other children before they do. And, like children, we’re victims of circumstance, passed from pillar to post, always ‘done to’ —passive participants in our own lives, reacting to situations instead of acting within them. Like children, we have no agency of our own, no way of putting our own feet forward and making strides. Children learn from a very early age that someone else is in charge of their lives, making decisions for them, and that they are helpless in the face of that authority. At school, children interact with other children for the first time, and discover that they are capable of having a similar, smaller-scale influence on someone else their own age. They understand some small amount about power and the culture of blame in the world about them, how to transfer the weight of the hand of authority to someone else’s shoulder.… and that small understanding follows us all right through into our twilight years, almost unchanged. We might use longer words to explain it to others, but the essence remains the same: forever children, we find those that we can exert power over, and squirm from under the grip of those who can exert power over us. This is mine. I didn’t do that. I want that. It’s not me, it’s them.
To be a warrior in the Spirit means finally accepting the mandate from God to grow up. Oh, there are growing pains – nothing is achieved without effort, and more often than not, sacrifice. But God’s plan for us in the Kingdom, the promises attached to the provisions that come with every problem we face, require us to accept that we cannot remain children forever.
Everything that is passive and reactive in our old lives in the world is active in our new lives, and as warriors, that active spirit rises from a spark to a flame within us. Warriors do not practice the art of thinking brilliantly. Warriors live it. Warriors are possessed of agency, the gift to move beyond and make their own mark. Everything is about forward and upward motion. Warriors do not need rescuing, or avoid tough situations. Warriors do not feel the need to squirm out from under circumstance when it arrives, but rather welcome the opportunity to believe the Lord for something – they are privileged to trust Him, and excited at the prospect of moving in faith. The warrior doesn’t fall beneath the wave of circumstance but, grinning, learns how to surf. Rejoicing is the hallmark of the warrior.
In pinball games, the hapless ball is thrust at breakneck speed into a garish, terrifying arena, and careens around inside it, crashing into obstacles, being flipped from one bumper to another, creating loud noises, bright lights and massive vibrations wherever it goes, only slowing for an instant before zooming off into the next cataclysmic collision with a wall or an object or a moving walkway. Existing in the world as we did for so long, it’s so tempting to think of ourselves as that ball, out of control, constantly in danger of harm as we whizz about without the capacity to influence our speed or direction. The warrior, on the other hand, simply thinks to herself, “Fantastic! I’m really getting somewhere. And look at all the points I’m scoring!” To the warrior, existence is a life lived in favor and utter confidence in that favor, aiming for the high score with every bounce and flip.
All of this is terribly confusing for those who still live in the old world, who still feel tied to a dead self that we’ve left behind. We mystify the world with our rest. We bamboozle the world with our faith. We baffle, perplex, confound and dumbfound the world with our joy. Our endurance is befuddling, our favor bewildering, and as for our grace? That completely stumps them. The fact is, you can’t explain these things in the language of the carnal, of the world that’s gone. It doesn’t make any sense! If you don’t agree, try this paradox on for size… warriors are children, too.
Fearless children don’t ask why when they’re asked to go on an adventure… they clap and cheer and say YES! Children playing don’t concern themselves with mud or falling into ponds, because they’re too busy having fun. And happy children are all about complete, total trust in those that love them and take care of them. Our children have no problem with confidence, or rest, or the idea of being joyful at all times, or the idea of unconditional love and utter faith. They experience these things every day.
Our confidence in Christ and in the Kingdom is a paramount aspect of the way of the warrior. We are designed in Christ to live a life without shame and condemnation, which means without fear. A life lived without fear is a life of excitement, adventure, and really wild things! It’s a life of exploration, possessed of a pioneering spirit, the kind of Spirit that delights in bringing the sovereignty of God to every occasion. We’re Christians, delivered from worldly situations, and we do not live in circumstance, but in Christ. It’s in the name!
Consider your present circumstances — what has been set aside for you here? In your current situation, what is growing within you regarding the nature of God? Can you feel yourself itching to grow, to develop, to shake off childish things and become an adult, maturing in the spirit, while holding onto childlike certainty and wonder? Once you focus on these paradoxical qualities, focus on our delight in exploring the heart of God and discovering His favor, then rescue from your circumstances will no longer be your prime concern. You’ll be active, not reactive, energized and refreshed in the Kingdom of God. Grown up, but never, ever, ever growing old.
–Ben at Team Brilliant