Why you need both on your journey with Jesus
Before He was a lamb on the cross, He was a baby in a manger. Be honest — when you think of the manger scene, don’t you think about a cute, cuddly, cooing little baby Jesus? When you see a newborn baby, you don’t think, Wow, look at that mighty, powerful, warrior! No, most of the time you say, “Aww … she (or he) is perfect. They look just like … (insert the name of the parent you like the best).
In reality, you can look at Jesus and see both a warrior (lion) and a child (Son of God). He is both in tandem. In 1984, Christian musical artist Twila Paris released a powerful song titled, “The Warrior is a Child.”
Here are a few of the lyrics:
Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
I’m strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears
They don’t know that I come running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child
The song is sung from the perspective of a believer, but it could easily be about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Many theologians believe Mary was between 12-16 years old when Jesus was born. There is a good chance she still felt like a child compared to the adults who surrounded her. What a weight to carry at such a young age.
Considering your relationship with God, you will always be the child, no matter how much you try to project the warrior within. Jesus instructed us to become more like a child.
“He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2 NIV).
God is waiting for the child in the soul of each warrior to run to Him. We must each become a child who is willing to sprint back to Him regardless of what we’re wearing, where we’ve been, what we’ve seen, what we’ve spoken or who we’ve become.
To live as a warrior seems far cooler than to live as a child. It can be a natural response to years of bumps, bruises, fights and let-downs. It’s easy to cling to the warrior, viewing the child as weak and ineffective. But oddly enough in God’s upside-down kingdom, the child is what is required to conquer the nations.
The irony is the warrior and the child must co-exist. One without the other accomplishes little. They balance each other. Too much child and nothing is conquered, although great intentions exist. Too much warrior and aggression overcomes obedience. You conquer but you don’t think about the ramifications.
The child keeps the warrior focused on what’s right; the warrior keeps the child from shrinking away to inactivity.
It’s an important fact to know, because sometimes we have to drop our swords and allow God to minister to the child within.
Children behave in such wonder during the Christmas season. As we get older our identity can appear more warrior than child, but very few things are as precious as seeing a child open a present on Christmas morning. They express such purity, such expectation. They may tear off the wrapping paper like a warrior, but their countenance is one of a child.
There are times to be a warrior. There are times to take ground and conquer the enemy. Nothing illustrates this more than Jesus’ return in Revelation 19:11-16.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords” (NIV).
He was clearly a warrior, but he was also clearly a child. John 5:19 says, “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’” (NIV).
He was fully dependent on His father. Some would say that a child who is fully dependent on their father has not fully matured, but in the Kingdom of God this isn’t the case.
We were not created to mature to a place where we no longer need our Father God.
We are always dependent upon His grace, mercy, kindness and love.
This Christmas season as you journey toward Christ, begin by evaluating your dependence on Him. It’s okay to be a warrior, but you are required to be a child. He wants you to cast every care on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He wants you to pray to Him without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The best warriors know how to follow their leaders’ commands. The best children know how to honor their parents. Jesus was able to make the warrior and child at peace within the heart of the believer, both able to be summoned as the circumstances demanded.
Warrior and child. Lion and Lamb. Both were in the manger that beautiful night, and both are also in you.
When you think about the hardship Jesus endured, even at birth, you can’t help but appreciate the Father God that much more. He did not take the easy road because He understood it’s a road most of humanity would be unable to relate to. Instead, Jesus’ journey was fraught with stress from day one.
When you come to a season that should be joyful, should be fulfilling and should be celebratory, but you feel none of those emotions you can be tempted to feel like a failure. Refuse to succumb to your emotions and instead, be led by the Spirit as Jesus modeled.
Jesus may have had every right to feel ashamed of his financial or social status, but He didn’t have time for that. He was overcome by purpose. He had battles to win! While it’s tempting to dress yourself permanently in sheep’s clothing, sometimes you have to be a warrior. Sometimes you have to fight for the life you want — the life He has for you.
That night in a manger a baby was born, a perfect lamb and a perfect warrior. On your journey to Christ there will be times you rest in His presence and times you engage in spiritual warfare. Our prayer for you this Christmas is for you to be graced with the discernment of who you must be when it’s required of you.
If you missed the first or second blog in this special Christmas series, you can find it here – Nicely Wrapped – Is your heart an attractive gift to God? and here – The Joy Box
Reevaluating the purpose of your faith step
We don’t give Joseph enough credit. Mary gets a great deal of the focus in the story of Jesus, and rightfully so. Elizabeth exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear” (Luke 1:42 NIV)! And an angel of the Lord said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28 ESV)!
Blessed and favored by God is not a bad place to be. What more could you want?
Then there’s Joseph. He got no such description, but don’t be deceived. He was not just along for the ride. Joseph was a man of great faith. He carried the burden to protect this prophetic moment. He was responsive to the dreams God gave him, and let’s not forget about his humanity. Joseph felt fear, doubt and insecurities — just as we do. Ever since Adam, men have forsaken the weight of responsibility, but not Joseph. Let’s look at the reality of his situation.
- He did not impregnate Mary, but he was now committed to care for her as his wife, trusting in this immaculate conception. There had to be more than one moment when he thought he was losing his mind. Did an angel really visit him? Did he just have too much wine? Was the heat getting to him?
- He had to take his pregnant wife on a long journey … on a donkey. Not the ideal prenatal care Mary needed. What if something happened to her on the journey? What if they were robbed? What if she fell off the donkey and something happened to the baby?
- Unfamiliar city? Baby on the way? No problem, we’ll just stay at a local inn. Wait, what? Joseph, didn’t you book the hotel? He must have felt an unbelievable amount of stress. They had no place to go with Mary just hours from giving birth to the Son of God! THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING. Did Joseph feel like a failure? Did he feel like he was neglecting his responsibility? You can imagine the sense of urgency pulsing through his veins.
- Yay! Finally! Jesus is born! No robe for him. No silk sheets. Nope, he gets swaddling clothes and stuck in a feeding trough. Not exactly the ideal environment for the Savior of the World. Joseph may have patted himself on the back for making it happen against all odds, but feelings of failure also had to prod at his psyche.
- Finally, Joseph could breathe. It wasn’t the ideal pregnancy, but hey. He kept Mary safe and healthy, and now Jesus was here. What’s that? Jesus is being hunted by Herod the Great? Joseph probably had one of those, “Are you serious, God?!” moments. We’ve all had them. And back on the road they go.
If this wasn’t such a serious, history-shaping story, it could have also been a comedy. One let down after another with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but Joseph didn’t falter. He accepted the weight of responsibility, but more importantly, he embraced what it looks like to live by faith.
When we think about taking a faith step, we’re not always focused on the step.
We view the step as unavoidable to accomplish what we really want. We don’t like the faith step. We don’t even like the journey. We simply want the treasure at the end of the rainbow, so we take the step. Generally, we take the step with no intention of acknowledging the importance of the step until AFTER we have finished the journey.
- But what if there is no treasure at the end of the rainbow?
- What if the journey we thought would yield such great fruit and reward ended in mediocrity?
- What if we deem the result of the faith step a failure?
- What if there is no hotel, only a manger?
If this is the case, you may need to re-evaluate the purpose of the faith step.
The Faith Step Isn’t a Guarantee
There are no guarantees your faith step will end as you hope. We look at Abraham and Isaac and use the story of Abraham’s faith step as a doctrinal stance to believe in God’s unwavering protection, but how then do we justify Paul’s imprisonment, Stephen’s martyrdom or Christ’s crucifixion? Their faith steps didn’t lead them to 6-figurebook deals, a Christian speaking circuit or an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a major leadership conference. They had a goal in mind, but they understood their goals may not be God’s goals. They had to be ok with wherever the faith step would take them.
- They focused on the glory found in being chosen to take any step at all to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Faith Step is Enough on Its Own
Looking back on life, we can appreciate the journey. We can relish the wins and the losses, the grief and the joy. Our life plays out like our favorite movie, full of ups, downs, plot twists and nail-biting thrills. However, we can’t script our life as we would a movie. Why? Because as a follower of Jesus, we are not the authors of our story. We are actors in an ever-changing script, fully reliant on the author and director to guide us through every scene. We don’t need to know if our life will be a box-office hit. We just need to focus on the scene we are in, no matter how mundane or seemingly inconsequential.
2. Sometimes the faith step is really a faithful step. It’s being present where you are and trusting the final product to the creator and director of the script.
The Faith Step is Yours to Own
You can’t blame your inaction on others. At the end of their lives people often say they regret the things they didn’t do, more than the things they didn’t do well. They don’t clamor for more work time; they regret not spending more time with their family. They anguish over not taking the risk. They are disappointed they let others intimidate them into apathy. They feel remorse for not standing up for the poor, broken and mistreated. They wish they’d done more with the years they were given. All of these regrets stem from faith step avoidance.
3. The faith step is yours to take, nobody else’s. Own it, take it and if it doesn’t turn out as you would have hoped, at least you were obedient.
Do the thing God’s asked of you, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Do it with no guarantees, other than the satisfaction of obedience, and trust the results to God.
Let your faith step be your first step to the person He has called you to be.
Joseph couldn’t be Mary. He was not tasked to carry Jesus. He could only do what He could do. And while his faith step probably never turned out as he predicted, you can’t argue with the result of his faithfulness.
Your story may not look like you had hoped, but your story is not over. Just take it one step at a time.
If you can look back at this holiday season and with certainty declare that your faith has increased and you are experiencing the blessings of obedience, you too will be highly favored.
If you missed the first, second or third blog in this special Christmas series, you can find it here – Nicely Wrapped – Is your heart an attractive gift to God? , here – The Joy Box and here – The Warrior & Child