Have You Ever Played Tug of War?
It’s the game that pits two teams against each other. Each team tugs on the opposite ends of a rope with the goal of pulling their opponent across the winning line. In this game of strength, the weaker team is forced in the direction of the stronger team. I remember playing tug of war many times as a young girl. Regardless of winning or losing everyone laughed as we watched the losing team plunge to the ground in defeat.
Sometimes life can feel like a tug of war too! But unlike the game, this battle is the kind being fought out in our soul. A battle within our mind and heart between what we’re afraid of and what we believe to be true about God.
Have You Experienced a Tug of War Between Your Fear and Faith?
The truth is we all have gone through tug of wars of the heart. Times when our thoughts and feelings are at odds with the truth of who God is…when the visible world vies against the invisible world.
On one end of the rope is the visible world– what you can see and feel. The circumstances that are governing what is happening and the reality of the uncontrollable, unknowns of life. Often feelings of fear or worry take over as anxiety pulls at your heart.
On the other end of the rope is the invisible reality of God– what you cannot see but know to be true: our faith in God, the Bible and the promises of eternity. Often feelings of hope and courage emerge from the comfort of knowing God and turning our gaze towards Him.
The Bible says,
“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
Living by faith is much harder than it sounds. After all, we are human and we experience life with our human senses, limited knowledge and broken hearts. How can we possibly triumph over the disparity between the unseen and the seen?
How can we pull the rope forcing our fear, doubt and worry to collapse in the presence of hope, courage and faith?
Not too long ago, I experienced a tug of war of this sort. It all started with an amazing career opportunity for my husband. One that would take us to a new city over 7 1/2 hours away. Everything fell into place except one important detail- the sale of our home. Both my husband and I prepared our house and we took all the proper actions needed. Then, we prayed, believed and waited but no offers came. Maybe because the market was slow, yet we still believed that a slow market couldn’t stop God. But…still nothing.
A plethora of feelings emerged from within my heart including fear, doubt, discouragement and hopelessness. The tug of war between believing God over my circumstance was on. I agonized over my lack of trust in God and I even asked God to forgive me for not trusting Him wholeheartedly. Seriously, I felt like a failure at trusting Him (exactly what the enemy wants to do…drive a tiny wedge between me and God).
But I continued to cry out to God. Prayer journal entries read, “Father please help me to trust you. Show me what it means to walk out my faith when it looks hopeless.”
Then, I opened my Jesus Calling devotional to Oct 6 (page 293) and I read,
“Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! Some of my richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith- not by sight. This doesn’t mean closing your eyes to what is all around you. It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.”
When we subordinate the scary visible circumstances to our faith in the invisible Almighty God, we can win the tug of war between fear and faith.
The word subordinating is an interesting one. I discovered that it also means to overwhelm. We could rephrase it as, “When we overwhelm our scary visible circumstances with our faith in the invisible Almighty God, we can win the tug of war between fear and faith.”
And it doesn’t take an enormous amount of faith to shift the direction of the rope. Just a little more faith than fear will overpower fear’s grip. By choosing to elevate God just a smidge above our fear the rope will begin to move in favor of faith. After all, just a mustard seed of faith can move mountains (Luke 17:6) or in this case, win a tug of war of the heart.
However, it’s not easy to show faith in the face of discouraging circumstances. One thing that helps me to subordinate my fear is to verbalize my faith. Say it out loud. Declare my faith and trust in God by saying, “God you are bigger than my situation. It might look scary and hopeless, but not for You. You are God, Creator of the Universe and nothing is too difficult for you.” Saying it out loud builds my faith and in this game of tug of war it shouts victory over fear.
Today, if you find yourself in a tug of war between fear and faith or the visible and the invisible…STOP and overwhelm the impossibility of what you see by making your faith in the Almighty known. Subordinate your fear by officially announcing that you will walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
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