Every morning I wake up and prepare myself for battle. I scoot to the edge of my bed and reach for the heavy sword lying on the ground. With trembling fingers, I grip the sword so tight that my fingers ache as I anxiously wait for the moment when I will have to fight once again. Sometimes my opponent doesn’t show up until afternoon, but sometimes he’s there the minute my feet hit the floor, flaring his nose and digging his feet into the ground. Some days I fight with vigor, getting in slice after slice. Other days I miss him with every jab. And then there are the days I’m too tired to even try; when I leave the sword on the ground, and allow him to pummel me until I’m black and blue. However, there are also times when I’m victorious and I take him down.
Better yet, there are days when he doesn’t show up at all. But those are few and far between.
I first met my enemy as a small child. I don’t remember what made him first arrive, but I know that he grew larger after my parents’ divorce. And he continued to grow as I got older. He was there when I was hurt by those I trusted, and when I was abused by someone I loved. But he didn’t try to help me. No, he made everything worse. So much worse.
As a young mother doing the best I could, he teased and tormented me, caused me to second guess myself, to worry myself sick.
He mocked me when we lost our home, when we filed for bankruptcy, and when we carefully tried to piece our life back together. His presence often made me feel I couldn’t do it; that I wasn’t strong enough, good enough, or capable enough to dig myself out of this hole.
Still, he never won. In all of those instances I was ultimately triumphant. My sword was sufficient. My swings landed, maimed and bruised him, wore him down.
Until about five years ago when I got sick with an unexplained illness.
That’s when he grew too big to fight.
My enemy is fear, and his weapons are worry, anxiety, paranoia, and doubt. He wields them at me every opportunity he gets. I have the scars to prove it. Scars that some say are supposed to make me stronger, but in reality only succeed in reminding me how weak I really am.
I’ve grown weary. Weary of the battle. Weary from the fight. Just plain weary.
I’ve been begging God to take this enemy from me, and there have been times when I believed he had. Times when it seemed my opponent had left the ring, but he always returned. And when he did, my spirit sagged, and I felt even more defeated than before.
Then one day at church I was handed a new weapon. Bryan and Katie Torwalt introduced a new song called CHAMPION. This simple phrase “Champion, you fight for us” breathed hope into my soul. For the first time in years I felt like I had permission to hand over my sword, to give it to someone stronger, and to let him fight FOR me, not just alongside me.
I’d like to say that was the end of my fear journey, but that would be lie. I’m still not to the end of it, but this song, this weapon, gave me a reprieve and helped me start walking a new path. I also believe that it allowed me to begin hearing more of the truth, and less of the lies.
You see, my opponent does a lot of trash talking. It’s kind of his thing. And he’d been telling me a lot of lies. In fact, the first day I handed over the sword to my champion the doubts kicked in. The enemy’s voice was low and heavy, “What makes you think he can get rid of me if he hasn’t been able to before? You’ve been asking him to get rid of me for years, and yet here I am.” And the minute I gave in to his voice and snatched my sword back, he reminded me, “See. You haven’t won. You’re a loser.”
And there it is. His go-to. “You’re a loser.”
“I’m a loser.” That’s what he’s led me to believe.
And every day that he reappears, I know he’s right. If I had more faith, more strength, more trust, he’d be gone. Only a loser would still be fighting after all these years. A winner would’ve been victorious by now.
A couple of weeks ago, after a day of being beat up by my opponent, someone I love and trust so much called me. And she told me that she felt like I needed to know that I’ve come far in this journey. That I’m not who I was. That I’ve grown.
Grown….in the area of fear.
Grown…in this battle that has me battered and bloodied.
I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. Because deep down something happened in my soul. Deep down I knew it was the TRUTH. I’d been listening to lies for so long it took me a minute to realize it. But when I did, it changed things.
That statement quieted the words of my accuser, and opened up my ears to hear what my champion was saying. There’s a line in the song CHAMPION that says, “And what was stolen, you brought back to us.” One morning as I worshiped along to this song in my room, God reminded me that years ago he’d redeemed me from a life of drug addiction. He’d gone into the enemy’s camp and he’d taken back what the enemy had stolen from my family – ME – just like he’d promised my parents he would. And then he said, “Amber, I didn’t rescue you so you could live bound like this now. This is not the life I have for you.”
A few days later my opponent began his usual trash talk and went straight to the “You’re a loser” statement. But God squashed it immediately, saying, “No, you’re not.” And, amazingly enough, I believed him.
Once again, I heard his voice, “Amber, I didn’t rescue you so you could live bound like this.” And I finally understood. It was time to give up the fight. To let my champion take over.
So I handed over the sword again. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I don’t think I’ve ever understood that better than I do now. I’m tired. My arms are weak, my body is battered. I can’t fight anymore. I have nothing left.
So I won’t.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that today I will put down my sword, and I will not worry. Instead, I will rest and trust my champion to fight for me.