Pick your battles

We live in a world of conflict. Battlefields are ablaze in many corners of the world. Why? Because we love to make our own wars instead of confronting the truly important battle. It occurs on every scale. We strive for the all important position or salary. We engage in sports, dive into the deep sea and scale mountain peaks. Everywhere we seek challenge but run from the mountains that reside within our soul. The end product is depression and despair; war and famine and a depleted earth – both physically and spiritually.

We create these confrontations because it provides us with some measure of control. We pick the battle. Our will, when exercised strenuously, delivers satisfaction. Maybe it’s just to improve your Sunday sport score a digit or two or maybe we are reaching for a gold medal… either way it is of our own choosing.

We shrink from the true battle, and the assault upon our heart is fierce and ever advancing. Ironically apathy and fear are the tools that pride uses against us. We are afraid to lose. We are afraid to ask for help. We are too proud to admit that we are being beaten down. So we pout at the base of the mountain self-absorbed in our distraction which we inappropriately name challenge.

It is not to say that great achievements in sports, science or exploration are not important. Exercise is healthy. But we avoid mending our inner hurt or committing ourselves to help another while we invest tremendous time and effort in the external life. We build a Coliseum of games while reality is ignored.

The recent PennState football scandal is a perfect example. Many young men came out of the program better persons, and it was once a shining example of morals, virtue and honor. But they didn’t fight the hard fight when it came along. They didn’t engage the battle when it meant true suffering and sacrifice. So they covered up and the whole thing came crumbling down as they built on a foundation of sand in a vain attempt to perpetuate their own glory. Morality must run deep as it lives from the root.

When the scales are tipped against us, that is where the true human battle is waged. While I admire the man who reaches the top of Everest, the man that faces and defeats his inner demons encounters something sacred and flies well over the peaks of the Himalayas.

Identify the true challenge that stands before you. Look squarely upon that cliff face and grab the ice axe of faith. Take that first step, hoist yourself up. Swing your axe in a wide arc of trust in God and you will find that it sticks. You have a handhold, now advance. Move forward with grace and let God give you the legs to climb ever higher.

Jesus could have done it in a way where he was in control. He could have organized and incited his people into revolution. But he chose the higher path. He chose to soar over the mountains and teach a spiritual salvation that frees us and gives our lives meaning. And when things go beyond our understanding, instead of fear, we have hope and clarity.

“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.”

(from Romans 12 and Isaiah 40)