Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Racing Through Life Like a Phantom Menace

Suggested Reading: 1 Peter 5:5-11

Before the current slate of Star Wars sequels LucasFilms released the Star Wars prequels, beginning with The Phantom Menace. Depending on whom you ask, one of the most loved or hated scenes in the movie is when Anakin Skywalker, a very young boy competes in and wins a hi-tech car race. Throughout the course of the race the various contestants do their best to knock out the competition through various methods of cheating and sabotaging other vehicles. On top of that, there are sand men poised with guns to try to shoot the racers out of the sky as they zoom past. Anyone in the race has to deal with all of these elements and they aren't only trying to get to the finish line first, they are trying to survive all of the attacks being thrown at them.

Sometimes, the Christian life is a lot like that race. We are racing along, trying to get to the finish line, and then -- whack! -- someone hits us with an attack! Someone sideswipes us with an untrue accusation. We get smacked upside the head with a problem we didn't see coming. Someone cuts our feet out from under us by jumping to conclusions before they have all the facts. We are doing our best, not trying to hurt anyone else, just trying to make it to the finish line in one piece and, every time we turn around, someone hits us from another angle, some unexpected problem pops up and threatens all of our efforts. We begin to feel like, at any moment, the wheels could fall off and we will end up stranded in the middle of nowhere, all alone. And we are scared that if that happens then we aren't going to have the strength to keep going, that we'll just give up and quit.

The bad news? You're not imagining things. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (NIV). We do have an enemy whose goal is to derail us. The enemy's goal is to get us to quit trying, to give up and walk away. And the enemy is going to use everything in his arsenal against us, trying to make us stumble, to get us frustrated so we decide that this life is simply not worth the effort, to give up and let him win.

The good news? The next two verses add, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:9-10, NIV).

Did you catch that? Not only is it possible to endure, but you are not alone in your struggles. No matter how much it feels like you are the only one going through all of these things, you're not. "Your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." The enemy wants you to think you are alone. He wants you to think that you are all by yourself and there is no one to help. And that is a lie. What is more, God promises that even if you stumble, that is not the end of the story. "Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

God did not get your attention and call you to His side so that he could let you fail. God did not send His Son to earth to die in your place so that you could live a defeated life as the enemy laughs in triumph. Resist the enemy, and God promises that the enemy will flee from us (James 4:7) because God has not given us "a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7. KJV).

With the Spirit of God living in you, you are stronger than you think you are. You can not only survive the enemy's attacks, but you can make him flee. Never give up. Never surrender. You are not alone.

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