I stumbled down the stairs, willing myself to the downstairs bathroom. I’ve never understood the draw of the early morning hours and at seventeen years old, those hours were tortuous.
Mornings provided predictability. Never a day went by when my parents weren’t cozied up on the sofa engrossed in their morning devotional time, but this day offered something different.
On this particular morning, a transforming moment occurred. I didn’t know it then, but the next five minutes would shape the lens from which I viewed core biblical principles.
As I tiptoed into the kitchen, I overheard them — my parents, interceding on behalf of that horrible man. A man bent on ruining my father’s reputation, lying in order to restore his financial success and in the process destroying ours.
I stood behind the wall eavesdropping, all the while becoming more upset with what I heard.
“Blessing over their family…reconciliation…harmony…forgiveness.”
How could they be praying for our sworn enemy?
My pain was so fresh from this betrayal. Yes, even at 17, a neat, orderly world can be turned upside down. How could my parents not be outraged?
I wanted to hear their anger cry, their desire for justice, their prayers demanding that the Lord swiftly correct these terrible wrongs because everyone should know of his falsehoods.
I left for school that morning silent. The answers I desired were not within my grasp, and the justification I needed didn’t occur.
Isn’t it something how, decades later, I still feel the excruciating emotions of that day? Pivotal moments do that to you. They sear your heart in untold ways. As my justice-oriented nature wanted to gather the troops and defend at all cost, my mother’s simple retort rocked my world, “The Lord is the defender of our reputation.”
But what about RIGHT NOW? This is not fair? Let’s call everyone. Let’s gather our assembly. Let’s tell them what he’s done. We can create community with a common adversary and it’s completely within our right.
It took me years to truly understand that their choice was not one done out of weakness, but strong conviction and strength of character. It’s easy to create dissension among the church and it certainly doesn’t take much effort to spread gossip and split sides, but to focus on bringing glory to the Lord, rather than to focus on bringing glory to oneself, that’s something else entirely.
If you insist upon defending yourself, God allows that. It’s not a biblical mandate to stay silent. Often clarification of miscommunication is necessary. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. Maybe not in our convenient time table, but He promises His defense.
A.W. Tozer once said, “I don’t have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me, and He’ll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary and you’ll never need to defend yourself.” (See Exodus 23:22)
I’ll be honest, I don’t always get this right. In painful relational situations, there’s nothing more I want than to rally the troops, but I am continually reminded of my parents’ early morning intercession. For years, they offered their blessing to an enemy. I’ve come to realize how futile it is to worry about a reputation. If I live my life wholly abandoned to the Savior, He’s got me right where He wants me and as my kids would say, ” He’s got my back.”
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)
I could ponder the age-old question of, “Why do bad things happen to good bad people?” or even, “Why do the bad sometimes prosper?” I could dig out my college thesis on this very issue with deep philosophical words and months of pondering, but the reality is that I’m a simple girl. I like issues tied up with a simple bow. I want us to agree to disagree and leave as friends. In my Pollyanna-like world, I don’t understand why that can’t happen, especially among believers, but the fact is, we’re sinners and life is messy.
I’ve seen this firsthand: the swindler stealing a family’s investments, a cheater snagging glory for his own advancement, and even the bully who always gets his way.
And here’s the real rub — sometimes we don’t see the restoration in our lifetime. My parents never recovered from that devastating financial blow. They lost their house and business, but they gained so much more. They created a generational legacy that now spans four generations of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren living to glorify Him and He has been so faithful.
It’s really hard for me to grasp why the bad guys sometimes win, but they do. The world is not just, but God is and that’s enough. That’s more than enough.
Have you ever felt the tension between defending yourself and letting God defend you? What did you choose?