Stand Still, the Lord Will Fight for You
One day, God asked me,
Are you willing to work for justice for others, even if it means that you are treated unjustly?
It was one more step on a path I've been walking for a very long time; the path of total surrender to God. It's fairly easy to say, "here I am, God, send me." But it can be terribly hard to let go of the individual things that your humanity holds dear. So God asks me, from time to time, "Are you willing to let go of that? What about that? Can you trust me in this situation?"
There are many things I've fought to hold on to for a long, long time - friends, safety, dignity - but when I let them go at God's request, it's always such a relief. The more I learn to stop fighting for myself, the more I get to see God fighting for me. And He's a much better fighter than I'll ever be.
|Aslan & Lucy concept art | Justin Sweet|
Living as a foreigner in Mozambique is never dull. At it's best, it's an entertaining and rewarding experience. At it's worst, it's absolutely terrifying. I try not to complain, because I am where I am, and I do what I do because of God, not man, and complaint will only make me miserable without changing the situation.
But in reality, there are a lot of things about life here that I truly don't enjoy.
One of the things that bothers me the most is the fact that my skin color = privileged. Perhaps it's even more uncomfortable because it's actually pretty much true. Yes, I'm financially in the top 1%. Yes, I can pretty much go where I want and buy what I want. Yes, a lot of the people who don't know me see me merely as a walking dollar sign, and yes, that's distinctly unsettling. I've had to come to terms with the fact that, no matter how hard I work to dispel the image of privilege, there's absolutely no way I can convince everyone in Mozambique to see me as me, and not as 'rich white girl'. There are certain realities of life here. One of them is that I almost never get a good deal. I joke that you can just feel the prices rising whenever I walk into a marketplace, because white skin = $$$, and a lot of the vendors look at me as their ship that has just come in.
So what keeps me from getting jaded and discouraged and just wanting to hide in my house where no-one's trying to take advantage of me? Well, it's a combination of factors ranging from sheer stubbornness to boundless optimism. But the biggest one is the fact that I'm learning that I don't have to fight for myself.
If I am fully surrendered to Christ, then that means that everything that's mine - from my physical safety to my financial security - is actually His. So if someone takes advantage of me, they're actually trying to take advantage of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and it's not going to turn out so well for them in the end. This isn't to say that I become a sort of door mat for anyone to trample on at will. On the contrary, when I begin to think of things as His instead of mine, I value them even more highly, but in a very different way. I see them in the light of temporary possessions to be well-stewarded. They're my responsibility, but they're not my problem, and this mindset frees me up considerably. Instead of contending for my personal justice, which is God's problem, I find myself increasingly focused on my responsibility, which is doing my part to bring the Kingdom of Justice to earth.
I am still, however, lamentably far from being perfect. And every once in a while, some little incident will occur that really gets under my skin. At such times, it's tempting to feel alone. It's tempting to feel that no-one else really sees, or really understands. My Mozambican friends, though frequently suffering even worse injustices that I'll ever face, still do not have the daily wearing-down experience of standing out and being a target for attention literally everywhere they go. Sometimes, it's difficult to keep from complaining and to continue trusting God to fight my battles.
But today, God showed me His goodness in even these petty concerns, and it came about like this:
Flavia and I went shopping together to pick up some things for Jon and Carla On the first trip, to go check prices and availability for some of the items we wanted to buy, Flavia was quoted one price. When it later came out that she was asking for prices for me, the vendors immediately doubled the amount of money they were asking. I shrugged and sighed inwardly when I heard this. It's a pretty familiar story to me, now, and I reflected that I should no longer calculate whether I'll get ripped off, but just how badly.
Flavia, on the other hand, is far from shrugging it off. She has spent the last two days talking to me, to Dino, to other friends, even to a random shop owner, about the injustice of what those vendors were trying to do.
And it should not be done.
She says all the things that I've felt, but really couldn't say, because to say them would put me in the class of privileged, white complainer. But Flavia doesn't have those restrictions. Today, as I listened to her injustice rant for about the fifth time, I felt warm and cared-for on the inside. Someone had noticed, someone had cared, and someone was doing something about it. And I hadn't even opened my mouth.
"See?" The Holy Spirit said, "If you leave the fight in God's hands, He'll take care of you."
It's just a little story, practically nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it strengthened my sometimes-flagging confidence that God is faithful and that I matter enough to Him to be worth fighting for.
It's reminded me of something else, as well: the fact that none of us truly wants to fight our life battles all on our own. Sometimes, it's when we stop defending ourselves that we open the doors for others to come and stand alongside us. And, even when no-one comes to our rescue, we can trust that the God of Justice takes it all into account.
Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14: 13-14