Thursday, November 15, 2007

Standing Your Ground--Weekly E-letter for Wesley Foundation (Methodist Campus Ministry)

Now for Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:


Earlier this week I was watching TV and saw a special on the National Geographic Channel about Yellowstone National Park.  This is one of my favorite places on earth, so even though I was dog-tired, I stayed up to watch it.  I’m so glad I did.  Amazing how God can use the most mundane things to bring encouragement.


The narrator was talking about how several years back the park service had introduced wolves back into the eco-system of Yellowstone.  He went on to discuss how wolves are at the top of the food chain in that environment and how their hunting skills benefit all of the animals, particularly when they bring down a bison.  Many other animals are able to eat, and thus to survive, as well as the wolf.  In addition, the hunting customs of wolves actually strengthens the bison population by removing those animals that are weak or sick.  It was incredibly interesting to see how everything in that environment fits together.


However, what intrigued me was the observation that bison have a much better survival rate when they turn and face their predators instead of fleeing.  Standing their ground helps them to survive the attack intact.  In fact, those bison that stood their ground were able to level some pretty heavy blows to their opponents as opposed to the ones who merely run.  Running presents a greater danger because the wolves jump on the bison’s back and bring it down.  By facing their predators, the bison removed the easy access provided to wolves when they run.


How powerfully this metaphor extends to the spiritual life.  Let’s face it.  As persons of faith we are constantly hounded (pardon the pun) by our adversary.  Perhaps it is a lie that we have bought into.  In a recent conversation with my own campus minister I was reminded of the ways I tried to pass myself off in college as unintelligent and helpless.  It worked for getting attention from boys, but as long as I hung on to that image I could not move beyond it into what God had created me for.  It was a lie that I bought into that did more harm than good.  There are other things we face as well:  character flaws, bad habits, personal attacks from others, injustice, grief, prolific discouragement, incessant “bad luck,” distraction, destruction, depression, and so much more.  The temptation is always to give up, give in, and give over our selves and our control to something or someone else.  It is so easy to think that by running away we can simply outrun whatever (or whomever) is trying to bring us down.  I love the scripture that applies so aptly from Ephesians 6:10-13:


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 


What I so love about the Lord is that He equips us not just to survive spiritual attacks, but to overcome them.  As we take up that full armor (Ephesians 6:14-17) and face him full on, our adversary has no weak spots to exploit.  We meet those trials and temptations meant for our defeat and destruction with the hope and promise that we can have victory.  As we belt ourselves with truth, walk in peace, dress in righteousness, wear our salvation, shield ourselves with faith, living and speaking the Word of God, we find that we have everything we need to expose and defeat the spiritual difficulties we face.  Ultimately it is not we who are fighting, but rather we are standing strong in the victory already won for us by the Lord Himself.  We stand strong finally not in our wisdom or power but in God’s.  And that makes all the difference.


Whatever we run from, we can never really escape.  Should our troubles pursue us, we simply have exposed rear ends that have no armor to protect.  And even if by running away we can leave behind unpleasantness for the moment, the unfinished business of the past always comes back to haunt us.  Only by standing and facing the adversity of our lives with the strength of God beside us and within us are we able to resolve the difficulties we face.  And in the process our weaknesses are transformed into strength.   Just as the Bison population has been made stronger because of the introduction of the wolf, we too are able to become more than we are when adversity arises.  We simply have to know how to face it.   So what I guess I am trying to say is . . . . don’t run away from the tough stuff, no matter what it is.  Stand up, face it, and expose it to the truth of who God is in you and for you.  You will do more than just survive.  You will ultimately thrive.








Sami Wilson

Campus Minister/Director

WKU Wesley Foundation

United Methodist Campus Ministry




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