I had the opportunity to attend Sunday worship services at Mountain View Community Church in Temecula, California recently and was reminded of an interesting phenomenon regarding battles and storms that we face in life. My brothers Ken and Craig Carlisle and their families are members of Mountain View and my dad, Rev. Dr. Johnie Carlisle has been a frequent visitor since retiring from active Pastoring so on occasion I find myself making the drive from San Diego to join them and I must say, I've always been blessed by the experience.
A few weeks ago, Pastor John Wells was doing a series on Battles and I had to chuckle because I realized that I needed to hear that message; it was tailor-made for me (I'm sure everyone else was thinking the same thing). Anyway, Pastor Wells reminded us that at any point in our lives we are either in the midst of a storm, coming out of a storm or getting ready to go into a storm. How profound that was and I was struck because I realized that storms and battles are really another word for "Life." Life/Battles/Storms happen; it's just the nature of things, period. Often times we are so caught up in the fight that we forget that even before the fight begins God has already planned our victory and our battles are strategically planned, if you will, to guarantee our triumph; never will God allow us to enter an un-win-able battle. In Jeremiah 29:11 he informs us that he has already planned for our prosperity, safety, and for a future.
Now, I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes and shaking your heads saying, "right; I've been dealing with this issue for years and still I can't figure out how to fix this mess! My marriage, my finances, my kids, now my health, what's next?" I'll tell you what's next; stop trying to fix it yourself and stop trying to figure it out on your own. You simply don't have what it takes to do that. Oh, we are great at creating chaos and mess in our lives but not so good at making it right...not without God's help. Often times because of our behavior and attitude while we are in our storms will often prolong the storm; we are busy in God's way, trying to do Him instead of letting go and allowing God to do what only he can do.
There are some things that we can do in the meantime, in the midst of our storm:
1. Declare Victory in Advance: Even though we don't see any way out of our predicament, we can still let the enemy know that they are fighting a battle that they cannot win. Visualize the victory in our minds and begin truly believing that we will in God's time come out of the battle, stronger, wiser and victorious!
2. Begin Acting Victorious: Stop rewinding the negative events of your life; when others ask how you are doing, simply respond, "I'm blessed and highly favored!" Remind yourself of what He has already delivered you from and where he's already brought you from. Stop holding onto the problem, the brokeness and begin to embrace the breakthrough and God's promise for a future, which means, he's planning a place for you down the road. Then remember,
3. Trials Are Temporary: The old folks used to say, "trouble don't last always." and that is true. Trials are just moments in time and because God knows his plans for us we also know that trials are not a part of his ultimate plan for our lives. Finally,
4. Blessings Are Spoils of Battle: The good news is that after we've come through a battle; God blesses us. We've learned some things and we're stronger, and wiser. Often times things that were lost are redeemed and best of all we've come closer to God in the process.
So, now is the time that we begin claiming our victories; right now whether we are in a storm, just getting out of a storm or getting ready to enter a storm. It's never too early to claim your victory over life's battles and storms. God has already provided us with everything we need before we go into the fight and best of all He knows the plans he has for us; plans for us to prosper, to be safe, plans to give us hope and a future. Even though we don't know what the other side of the battle looks like we can begin planning our victory celebration now! As Children of God we are winners and so we must think and believe like winners and as I meet life's challenges, I pray that you will join me in the Winner's Circle and claim all that God has planned for your life today, right here and right now!