There’s a line from a song we’ve been singing a bit more just recently:
‘We’re not fighting for survival; we’ve come to take the land.’
Problem is: it has felt rather like fighting for survival of late.
I ought to clarify. We’re not living through civil war or famine or earthquake. Compared to such dire circumstances – which some on our planet face on a daily basis – what you are about to read is certainly a privileged western whinge.
But there is a sense of sustained battle in our church. Times are hard. Challenges are many; encouragements sparse. Some key people have stepped back. Some regions have had to shrink, some plantings uprooted. Converts struggle, veterans lose confidence.
Taking the land may have to wait. Right now we’re fighting to survive.
But is that such an ignoble fight?
‘Success,’ Winston Churchill reportedly said, ‘is the art of moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm’. That great man also adopted as his personal motto the acronym ‘KBO’ – which stood for ‘Keep B*ggering On’. (I insert the asterisk for the sake of my conscientious Christian readers. And my mother.)
It may not sound very glamorous, but it occurs to me that if it’s good enough for Churchill it’s good enough for me.
Sometimes ‘hanging in there’ is the fight we must win.
‘I have fought the good fight,’ the apostle Paul famously wrote in what may have been his last letter before martyrdom. But in that same letter he also wrote: ‘ All who are in Asia turned away from me... Demas has deserted me... Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me... Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm... he strongly opposed our message. At my first defence no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me...’
He was fighting for survival; he also took the land.
May I do the same in my day, in my way.
What is the most important Christian virtue? Myself and a dear friend discussed this many years’ ago. I remember our conclusion: endurance. For what good is any towering virtue or feat of faith or accomplishment if before the end of the story you quit the field?
Keep me fighting for survival; and I might just take the land.