battle cry

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“This is how we fight.” 

I saw this battle cry written in the margin of my Bible, so I took a second look.

1 Samuel 17:45-47. Israel. Philistines. David. Goliath. You know the story.

I thought I knew the story, but it turns out God had much more to teach me about the way he equips us for battle.

The Philistines are camped out with their army gathered for war, along with the Israelites, each set on opposite hills separated by a valley. The major difference being the man described as a champion who stands taller than nine feet. Talk about a giant. Yikes.

“For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.” 1 Samuel 17:16

Later on it says that Goliath steps out from the battle lines to shout his usual defiance, and David heard it. When you read the text it’s so easy to hear how appalled he was that the Israelite army retreated in fear in the face of Goliath. They lacked faith in their God. They were paralyzed by fear from his daunting stature and torment.

Everyone except for David, that is.

David believed in the strength of the living God. He was confident that the giant was no match for the Lord. Listen to these fighting words:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

Mind you, David hasn’t thrown a stone yet. He’s staring into the face of Goliath as he declares victory over a battle that has not yet been won in the eyes of the armies on either side.

Uh-ma-zing. I am in awe of his faith.

Just the other night, I was tossing and turning for hours struggling to fall asleep. I felt utterly exhausted and depleted of any sense of will to battle the waves of emotion that swept over me. I wept and prayed and tried every home remedy to put me fast to sleep. I started praying every prayer I could think of, grabbed my holy water, clenched onto a cross and rosary, and got my essential oils diffusing, but still was left in distress in the wee hours of the night.

Finally, in a moment of desperation, I overcame the lie of being an inconvenience or being dramatic, and I texted a sister in Christ who was a few hours behind my time zone. All I said was hello, and her intuition kicked in.

She spoke fighting words to my soul. 

“It’s a beautiful struggle my dear. I wish I could help more. Wish I could lay on your bed and hold you and brush your hair. Going to pray for you right now, that you feel Mary’s motherly embrace and are able to entrust yourself to her care…she who cared for Christ. You are not alone. You are wonderfully made … God is preparing a feast for you.”

Not quite the same tone as David’s, but the Holy Spirit knew exactly how to fight this battle through her. Sometimes we have the courage to muster up the strength to speak our own fighting words, and other times, our “David” steps into battle on our behalf. I’m confident the soldiers who witnessed David’s act of faith that day never forgot the victory the Lord won for them.

I pray that the Holy Spirit would stir you up in faith to enter into battle with the giants that torment you day after day. Do not put up with the defiance any longer. Do not hesitate to call upon your brothers and sisters in Christ to battle on your behalf, those in heaven and on earth. And may we never forget the power of our living God, the one who saves.

This is how I fight my battles.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

a joyous mystery

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My flight time has become prime time for spiritual reading. Most recently, I read “Interior Freedom,” by Fr. Jacques Philippe. The thin spine of the text is no indication of its punch. It has one heck of a punch.

Philippe describes how the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the rosary, which walk us through the life of Christ, describe the different kinds of “outpourings” of the Holy Spirit in our life.

Philippe writes, “Some outpourings of the Holy Spirit illuminate and reveal, some strip and impoverish, and some confirm and fortify. All three kinds are necessary: the first to give birth to faith, the second to teach us hope, and the third to give us the courage to love.”

The Holy Spirit gives birth to faith through the illumination and revelation of the joyful mysteries (The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Presentation, and Finding Jesus in the Temple).

The Holy Spirit teaches us hope through being stripped and impoverished in the sorrowful mysteries (The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crown of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, and The Crucifixion).

The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to love through the confirmation and fortification of the glorious mysteries (The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption, and The Coronation).

Faith, hope, and love are the Holy Spirit’s outpourings of the mysteries.

I have to be honest, my mind was absolutely blown at this connection. Simple, yet profound, and so needed. I started to ask myself, “What am I in need of?”

As we journeyed with our Blessed Mother to meet our beloved Jesus as a babe in a manger this Christmas, it’s nearly impossible to fathom the extent of her faith. Mary’s faith at the Annunciation welcomed the Holy Spirit into her womb, where heaven touched earth.

Elizabeth, a woman who waited for decades yearning for motherhood, is described in the Gospel of Luke as “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” Following Gabriel’s appearance to Zechariah, the stark contrast of faith and lack thereof are clear. Elizabeth’s faith illuminates us. She proclaims, “The Lord has done this for me.”

Through Advent and the Christmas season, we journey through the joyful mysteries, and we are given the opportunity to be illuminated by the awe-inspiring faith of those who walked these mysteries first.

What do they reveal?

They reveal the power of a soul aware of her own spiritual poverty, who thrusts herself into the hands of her God. Her faith illuminates the world. She is the vessel through which Light enters the world. She reveals the difference that prayer and a sacrifice of praise make against all odds.

She leads us to fall prostrate at the throne of our King, a pile of hay upheld by the remnants of a tree, foreshadowing the throne upon which he lay for our victory.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” Luke 1:45

Faith births joy in our soul as it envelopes us in the Light that casts out darkness. By our very act of faith in God, we encounter a sweetness and warmth in his presence. We profess once again that he is indeed with us. We are not alone. We are in the very midst of our loving God who comes to earth to rescue us from the darkness.

Just like Mary and Joseph, and Elizabeth and Zechariah, we are given the chance to believe in the greatness of our God. Sometimes we will doubt, and other times we will let ourselves be humbled by the illumination of the Holy Spirit within us.

Even in the midst of my imperfect faith, I can choose to walk in surrender to my King proclaiming his greatness, while resting in my littleness – what a joyful mystery.