Dear exhausted soldier,
I’m sitting in the first floor of the LSU Student Union alone on a long bench against the wall and I feel Him.
I’ve got my headphones in and “Passion” by Hillsong Young & Free is filling my ears and taking over my thoughts, tuning out the jumbled murmur of the many different voices all around me.
I’m trying not to spill my now cold coffee I’m holding in my lap while I attempt to make yet another list (I have a thing about making lists of things), and I just can’t focus.
I can’t remember what I was about to put on my list; I can’t remember who I was about to text; I can’t think about anything except how strongly I can feel the presence of the Lord with me right in this moment.
I suddenly can’t hear the many voices talking about eating Chickfila for the seventeenth time this week or about the lab that they’re thinking about skipping this afternoon; I can’t hear my own voice trying to plan out the rest of my day or struggling to put my thoughts into an organized list; there’s only one voice that has seemed to capture all of my attention, and it isn’t even a tangible one.
I’m not even sure how to explain it other than it’s just this overwhelming sense of peace and love that is absolutely undeniable. From my head to my toes I feel so comforted right now. And I have no doubt that it’s my Heavenly Father reminding me of how close He is, of how He sees me, of how He has me in His arms at all times, because well there simply is nothing else in all of this world that will ever reassure me of any of these things except the Potter Himself.
You know, that is so important yet so easy for me to forget. Literally so many things every single day captivate my attention and speak into my life. Some things take my attention by force and speak rather harshly, others I invite in willingly and maybe end up listening a little too closely. Either way nothing comes close to listening to your very own Creator. It is such a special and essential thing to take time to shut out all other voices and solely tune in to God’s presence. Depending on how your day or even your week is going, putting in your “headphones” so all you can focus on is how good your Father is can seriously be your lifeline. It can make the difference of whether you will find the courage and strength to fight back against all the lies you’ve been hearing from the enemy lately or laying down and taking more hits. It can determine how you will react in about an hour or so when they completely forget your order at Starbucks for no good reason. And it will absolutely make a difference in how in the world you will possibly get through that thing that is weighing down so heavily on your heart right now that you instantly are thinking of as I bring it up.
I’m not going to just lie and say that spending time alone with God -maybe meditating on some bible verses that have stood out to you or listening to worship songs that really minister to your heart- will instantly make what you’re dealing with go away. (Honestly, depending on what it is, it very well could, though.) But it definitely will energize your soul to keep going. I mean let’s be honest with each other: fighting for peace in your heart, for joy, for security, your sanity, is all super hard and exhausting -I don’t care how hard you may try to convince everyone otherwise. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Soldiers get worn out and need rest and food to refuel and get back to battle. They don’t take the realization that they are feeling weak as a sign that they just aren’t cut out for this whole “soldier” thing and should probably just give up. They acknowledge that their strength is finite, that their stamina does run out, that they cannot do this on their own.
Fellow solider, you are not the only one struggling to keep fighting and you are not forgotten by your Creator. You are allowed and actually need to admit that you are tired; that no matter how much you’ve worked out, this is still too heavy for you to carry; that no matter how much sleep you’ve been able to get lately, the bags under your eyes are starting to affect your vision; that even though you’ve been eating your healthiest lately, you still barely have the energy to get through the day. You’re not a disgrace in the Kingdom of God for not being able to handle things on your own. It’s actually one of our key family values to acknowledge how badly we need our Savior.
I know sometimes it can make you feel guilty or embarrassed to be a Christian and just feel so inadequate and weak over issues that you think other Christians probably don’t even see as a big deal. But when reminded that healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do, does that start to eliminate some of the guilt? And when reminded that the Lord’s ways and understanding far surpass our own, does that start to contradict your reason for embarrassment? There’s no need to feel guilty about reaching super weak points in life, and there’s no good reason to feel embarrassed about not having all the answers or not being able to figure things out on your own, even if you’ve been saved for years.
I say all this to hopefully help you realize what the Lord had me realize today, which is that battles can be long and tiring and there comes a point where you just need to go back to base and recharge. This isn’t a shameful retreat in a surrendering-to-the-enemy kind of way because you’re just to weak to handle the fight; this is simply because you’re a good soldier, you recognize when you’ve run out of supplies and for your own health and safety and success in battle, you need to return to base to refocus on the battle-plan, refuel, and look for further instructions from your Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And through this precious meeting time with the One who knows your past, present, and future you will have undeniable peace begin to flood your mind, love heavier than any of the weight you’ve been carrying through this fight poured out onto your entire being, and much needed rest for your soul. Spending time in the presence of the Lord truly realigns your focus on the situation and restores your strength to get back to the battlegrounds. But take heart, because He’s going out right on side of you, not sending you out on your own; He never did in the first place.
For me today, my time in God’s presence has shown me that it doesn’t matter where you are physically or emotionally to spend time with Him and hear from Him. He didn’t require me to be in an intimate church service and He didn’t ask that I dust myself off and toughen up first. My time in His presence today also has tuned me into hearing that my current situation is not some catastrophic event, but an important time of growth that He and I can handle together, and that He can make way for me to come out more mature and refined on the other side. And it’s now, for the first time in about a week, that I feel strong enough to handle this, and it’s only because my strength has officially run out and the Lord’s strength is all I have to rely on. I have confidence in His power, and we are ready to get back to the battlegrounds, together.
For you today, I pray that you take some time to put your “headphones” in, listen to the only Voice that matters, and see what happens. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The most empowering moments of your life will come from surrendering everything you have and solely relying on the strength of God. Surrender and trust – that’s what it’s all about.
Scriptures that influenced this letter that you should absolutely check out:
- Psalm 73:22-26
- Jeremiah 31:25
- Matthew 11:28-30
- Matthew 9:12-13
- John 16:33
- Genesis 16:13
- John 16:32
- Joshua 1:9
- Exodus 33:14
- Isaiah 12:2
- Psalm 89:8
- Psalm 91:1
A few songs that correspond with the heart of this letter:
- “Passion” – Hillsong Young & Free
- “Pursue / All I Need Is You” – Hillsong Worship, Hillsong Young & Free
- “Prince of Peace – Live” – Hillsong United
- “Tremble” – Mosaic MSC
- “God I Look to You” – Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music
- “Shepherd” – Amanda Cook, Bethel Music
- “Your Voice” – Kim Walker-Smith, Skyler Smith
- “We Dance” – Steffany Gretzinger, Bethel Music
- “When the Fight Calls” – Hillsong Young & Free
- “Lion and the Lamb” – Leeland Mooring, Bethel Music
- “Even When It Hurts (Praise Song) – Live ” – Hillsong United