Message in a Bottle

I try to take a bottle of water with me to work every day, you know, one of those stainless steel cans that don’t leach chemicals. We have a purifier and the water is nice and sweet. It may also be that I’m a little paranoid about chemicals.

I remember sitting the bottle on the passenger seat of my car as I backed out of the driveway to go to work the other day. A couple miles from home, I came to a sudden stop, and I noticed hearing it hit the floorboard as I kept my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road. (Still looking for that ‘good driver discount,’ but no luck yet).

So, when I’m about halfway to work, I get that panicky feeling that I get when I think I might have forgotten something. Apparently, I’m a little paranoid about forgetting things, too. I do the quick checklist in my mind as I frisk myself: “Keys, wallet, glasses, phone, water bottle? Water bottle?” … I look on the seat, and the water bottle’s not there.

“Where’s my water bottle?”

I start to panic, I look on the floor, I feel between the seats, it’s not there!

Then I remember hearing it hit the floorboard… Oh, yeah, that’s right!

And I am overwhelmed with the sense of reassurance, satisfaction, and peacefulness… I am comforted. Even though I can’t see it, even though I can’t feel it with my fingers between the seats, I know my water bottle is here. I can’t see it, but I know it…  I just know it.

I just… know it.

Then, in a moment of clarity, I relax and sit back and think, “Well, that was really stupid! Why was I so alarmed? I knew it was here with me, I just couldn’t see it!”

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17‭-‬18 

Wait a minute! I know that sense of peacefulness! I’ve experienced that comfort before, on an even grander scale!

“…Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” John 20:19

Then, I laughed out loud!

My gosh, is that what I look like to God? Do I look like such an unbelieving fool? Searching around frantically, hysterically, trying to see Him, trying to touch Him? Wondering what to do without Him? Where does this doubtfulness come from?

Do I forget that He is always right here with me? Do I forget, so easily, what his promises are? Is my life so distracting that I can turn straight from prayer and worship to a total absence of awareness?

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17

Do I forget that it’s my flesh who just can’t see Him, who just can’t touch him? Do I forget that I mustn’t rely on my earthly senses to affirm God’s presence? Is it so easy to forget his many attributes… his Omnipresence? His Omniscience? His Omnipotence? His Holiness? His Faithfulness?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

This is a day in the life of a struggling Believer in Jesus, I guess.

At times… faithfully planted in belief, in trust, confident in my new identity… pursuing an intimate knowledge of God first hand and under the wing of my Deliverer and Savior, my Lord Jesus. Other times… distracted, forgetful, unaware, aimless and foolishly wandering away from my path with God.

I am forever thankful for these moments of clarity amid confusion, these whispers of assurance among the clamor, these glimpses of hope above the desolation, these flashes of light in the darkness of this life.

I pray for the continuing desire to continue desiring God.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Grace Abundant to you!

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No Standing Still

I think a lot about the idea of growing in my faith. Honestly, there are times I grow, and there are times when I’m, well, not growing. It’s kind of like taking an escalator… either I’m going up, or I’m going down.

I used to think that there were times where I might have jumped onto the median, where I was suspended from moving in either direction. Where I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go up anymore, for one reason or another, but I wouldn’t have said that I was back on my way down either.

These were times where I would say I’d “plateaued” for a while.

But, is that even possible with God? I mean, staying still? I’m not so sure anymore. It seems like every moment in life is a choice to go one way, or another. A decision to be made.

Listening to Jesus, you would certainly not think there was allowance for wavering.

With expressions like, “shake off the dust from your feet,” and “not fit for the kingdom of God,” and, “lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth,” it’s doubtful that he would have agreed with that.

I was pondering this thought, when I caught a daily blog here and saw an expression of this that stuck in my mind. The discussion was the need for understanding:

Hebrews 5:11 says, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand,” and this presents a question for each of us: “How is your spiritual development coming along? How is your understanding?”

Verse 11 speaks of a very sad condition for any true believer, for God tells us in Proverbs 4:7,

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

This passage encourages us to never tire of seeking understanding and wisdom from the Lord. The ESV translates Hebrews 5:11 to say, since you have become dull of hearing.

Dull of hearing… you know… when we would rather spend our time listening to the world’s rhetoric than the Word.

Another reason this condition is sad is because the writer of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit, has truth to impart, but the dullness of hearing makes it hard for the Word to penetrate the hearer’s heart, and thereby faith is not increased and transformation is slowed. It is a side effect of embracing dullness.

The condition gets worse because in reality, there is no stand still in  Kingdom living. We either grow or backslide depending on our response to the Word. We should always remember that faith comes by hearing the Word of God,” (Romans 10:17). 

(Thanks to  beholdinghimministries.org )

Aah, there it is, it IS either up or down. Growing in faith, or Backsliding. No stand still.

I remember always getting the same answer whenever I would confront elders or pastors at church with a challenge…

They said, “read your bible.”

Then, it’s the daily renewing of the mind, the constant pursuit of knowing God through the taking in of His Word,  and the incorporation of all that into my thoughts, behaviors, and life that perpetuates the upward motion, the growth in faith.

And, at the same time, it’s when I decide, even for a moment to put this pursuit aside for worldly aspirations… that’s the moment I jump over the handrail and engage the DOWN escalator, that’s the moment when I begin sliding down and away from a higher understanding of God, away from a courtship with Him.

It’s when I’m pursuing God in Jesus’s name, when I’m looking up, moving up… that’s when I am under New Covenant, no longer guilty under the Law, I am forgiven, I am headed home.

It’s when I’m not moving closer to God, to a personal relationship with Him in Jesus, when I’m looking down, that I am under old covenant, I am under the Law, I am guilty.

“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:14‭-‬18 ESV

Looking down, going down, my heart is hardened and veiled, I’m captive to Moses’ Law… but, looking up, my heart is unveiled, I am free in The Spirit, and I’m moving towards God, “one degree of glory to another!”

There is no median.

I love to hear it put in the words of one of the greats:

“The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice axe. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.”

– Charles Spurgeon

 Grace to you!

Dancing on the ‘Line’

Does God really know the difference between me being tempted by outside sources, and me tempting myself? I have been battling with this question for years.

John Piper’s blog had an interesting discussion on this recently:

“First, there’s a difference between the essence of sin and the outward act of sinning. The essence of sin is not what muscles do; it’s what the heart does. By the heart I mean the inner faculty of willing and desiring that give rise to actions.

The essence of sin is not the movement of the physical members of your body, but the desires and purposes of the heart. External muscular movements are morally evil only insofar as they are expressions of an evil heart.

We’ve got to deal with James 1:13–15 because James presses in. Let me read what he says. He defines temptation differently than what I have just said. Here’s what he says:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:13–15 

DesiringGod.com

Over the years, I have asked God often to show me what his heart is for me, to show me how he sees me, to break my heart with what breaks his. What’s that line from David, “Search my heart, Lord?” (Psalm139:23-24)

One time, I had this spiritual response that came from inside my own head (or, was it my heart?):

I see that there is a line on the ground that sometimes I step over it in faith and I walk closer to God as I leave the ‘old’ me behind.

But, too often, as I look to God, the line is between us again, I have stepped back, and it is still before me.

Much of the time, to be completely honest, I stand with one foot on either side, half in the old, half in the new. I’m divided up the middle, like the ‘Two Faced’ Harvey Dent, showing one side of me now, then quickly turning to conceal the other.

God sees me as a whole, though, as a divided house. He’s not able to share my space with the enemy. He doesn’t see me then as a living temple, He sees no place fit for his spirit to dwell, He wants the whole space.

But, I allow impure thoughts to reside in my heart, I fear I idolize it. I don’t need porn to draw me in; my own thoughts and imagination are enough to lure me away.

I don’t act it out with others and it seems like it doesn’t matter how many times I tell God I am repentant, I always go back to it. I have not been willing to give it up. I have many rationalizations for it, but I believe it is sexual immorality and sensuality in the least.

This is clearly a sin in God’s eyes.

As I was praying over this one day, I had this vision in my mind, sort of a prayer-induced day-dream. Like a little short movie, starring me.

It was like an aggregate of images I have in memory, a little bit of a Warner Brothers cartoon and a little of the vivid imagery of a ‘spaghetti western’ of the past, maybe directed and produced by the guys that did ‘Roger Rabbit’ or ‘The Mask’, blending real life with cartoon.

I start out like a Spanish Hat Dance… slowly I drag a toe along a line drawn in the dirt, and then sensually stepping over it, one foot here, then the other there. Maybe even a long stem rose in my teeth. Then as the music quickens, so do my steps, now flirting with the line, jumping back and forth, over the line stomping my boot heels as I dance!

As this progresses, my pace quickens, and becomes more aggressive, more passionate. Faster, and faster… I think I see smoke rising from my boots!

Then I am caught up in the madness of the dance, the momentum overtakes me, I am out of control, my boots catch fire!

Now, I am frantic, now I am actually trying to stomp out the fire. It roars up my legs, and in a flash it consumes me, the music climaxes in a crescendo!

I am gone in a puff of smoke, and settle in a small pile of ash, like so many cartoon villains… I come to my demise!

“Th,th,th,that’s all folks!”

And… the music drifts away.

This is an actual vision I had, no lie.

I think God was telling me, “Here is what I see, and it breaks my heart, Michael.”

So many cute clichés come to mind: ‘looking for trouble’, ‘cruisin for a bruisin’, ‘flirtin with disaster’, and ‘dancing with the devil’. That’s the trouble, there’s nothing ‘cute’ about it.

 

The word of God says: “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deut 4:13

 

Matthew Lanyon

Matthew Lanyon

[ The concept of this post was originally shared elsewhere by me on November 16, 2012 ]

 

Deadness Revisited

Today was an anniversary of sorts, I guess. Not like one dictated by the calendar, or a clock, as in how my wife remembers the anniversary of our first date, or how she remembers the times each of our kids were born, (yes, I got the dates down, thank you very much!).

This celebration is not prescribed by time like that, it’s more at the bidding of the elements… sun, moisture, temperature… the seasons.

Today I spent time memorializing the intentional deadness of my sinful self. Today I mowed, and edged, the lawn. (Are you still with me?)

Somehow, God has turned my yard into an indicator of my heart, like a window into my soul.

Who says God has no sense of irony. (no, irony is not the opposite of wrinkly!) I mean I think He has a razor-sharp wit!

So, here’s the ‘nutshell’ version… When I became a believer, I began looking for ways to cut back on the idolatry of material things. I stopped waxing my car. I stopped wearing a men’s fragrance. I stopped ordering from the top of restaurant menus and instead order from the bottom. And when the drought hit our area the hardest, I stopped idolizing our yard. I pretty much let it die. Everyone was doing it, I couldn’t appear to be unresponsive! It was my civil duty!

What a relief! I was no longer an Idolater! At least as far as material things. So I thought.

I looked upon my yard as a symbol of what I thought were the sacrifices I had made in the name of ‘working my faith’, in the name of obedience… as my dying lawn and vanishing foliage , I thought, mirrored my deadness to sin and dissipating self-idolatry… the ironic, and God-part, is that as the middle died, the edges were just as busy as ever with weeds and devil-grasses.

I had really switched from maintaining healthy and attractive grass to mowing dirt and edging random, undesirable and very ugly weeds. And, man, were the weeds ever in control of my lawn now. It reminds me of the story Jesus told in Luke 11, he was talking about an unclean spirit leaving a house, and then returning to find it empty…

“Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:26

That’s exactly how the weeds acted! They came back in greater varieties and numbers than ever, and have ravaged the area!

Is this my warning, the lesson I am to learn then?

I have experienced an end to some of the sin in my life… some things that were keeping me from God, and threatening a healthy relationship with my wife and kids are gone. But, yes, it’s true, I confess, some new things, some new sins have appeared around the edges, and in places I didn’t see before, some new forms of self-idolatry, self indulgences, un-godliness.

One thing I see is that I have fallen prey to this trap I call the ‘vacuum effect’…that is as one eliminates something un-godly, it must be replaced with something Godly of equal or greater weight. If not, the void is filled, as in Jesus’s words above, with a greater un-godliness than before.

I let the grass go, it should have been replaced with something else. One neighbor opted for a fake lawn, not my choice, but it leaves no room for weeds. Others used rocks, or ground-covering, something other than nothing-ness.

I, am attempting to, let my sinfulness die off, so it must be replaced with Godliness!

Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me… whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”(Luke 9:23-24)

He didn’t say stop sinning, but add no new behavior… he said to put me down, and pick Him up…

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me… for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

His sake for my sake. It’s a switch. That’s what repentance is, really. A stop, a turn, a new purpose, a new direction. Replacing ungodliness with, something that is at the least closer to, Godliness.

Yes, I have to say, there was another lesson learned today in my yard, all sweaty and dirty: The emptiness I still feel inside me spiritually is somehow displayed physically by the emptiness in my yard. I had tried to eliminate that which was unwanted… but I hesitated, failed even, to faithfully replace it with what I knew all along that I really needed.

 

Who’s Leading Who?

Someone said, “Either your life reflects your God, or your God reflects your life.”

Definitely, from examples around us, one might say it could go either way. But which one sounds most correct:

  • Striving for your life to symbolize and reflect the image and will of the one true God?
  • Believing in a more personal and palatable god which parallels your own life, your own will?

Put that way, it should be very clear. (Should be.)

Obviously, one goes best before the other… an old idiom says, “Don’t put your cart before the horse.” (You might be able to manage it, with some modifications, but in truth, you’re looking for trouble!)

So, as followers of Christ are we the ones WORKING TO CHANGE so that we may be suitable for God, putting the focus on US, on our actions, before HIM?

Or, are we believing we are ALREADY accepted by God, through the Grace of the Cross, and looking to change BECAUSE of that, as a direct result OF knowing him?

In The Book of Luke, there is this story: “As he [Jesus] was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:12‭-‬19 NIV)

It was in the journey to see the priests, BECAUSE OF FAITH, that they were healed. For them, the change was “on the way!”

Yes, it was Jesus who held the power, but it was the presence of their FAITH IN HIM, through the course of the journey, that allowed healing.

I could ask myself, “Am I still sitting, waiting to be healed in a manner that meets my approval?” Or, am I now “on my way,” at his beckoning, and driven by the faith that he CAN and WILL change me… indeed, that I am ALREADY changed?”

Am I TRYING to defeat this world on my own in order to show my love for God… or, am I reflecting and magnifying the love OF God (who loved me first), and has ALREADY conquered the world?

Am I so distracted in fighting against my own sinfulness that I am not fighting FOR Christ’s righteousness within me?

Am I trying to put MY WORKS ahead of HIS?

“Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

The Phoenix, the Priest, and the Rabbi

Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to stay the course in this battle that I am facing, this war between the spirit of light and spirit of darkness inside of me. I know, of course, God is the source of everything I need to get me through it to the good finish. But, I mean, do I have what it takes? Do I have any business calling myself a follower of Jesus? Doesn’t that require something other than faith? Something invested on my part?

I was watching a movie the other night. It was about a very mixed group of people that survived a plane crash in the middle of the Gobi Desert, only to be stranded and eventually perish from exposure. They were about to destroy themselves out of despair that they would never be found, until one of them came up with a plan to re-build a smaller plane out of the remaining parts of the original. It was their only chance to come out of it alive.

The movie was the 2004 version of “The Flight of The Phoenix.” And, of course, to paraphrase what a Phoenix is would be to say that something majestic would be rebuilt, or resurrected, as it were, from the ashes of something that was destroyed. (Hey, isn’t that a theme from scripture?)

There was a scene where one of the survivors gave thanks for the small ration of food he was about to eat. Another survivor who appeared to be non-Christian looked at him and smiled, saying, “I’m just amazed, that during these dire times, you’d take the time to thank God for anything.” The Christian answered, “Well, we’re still alive, ain’t we?” The other man shakes his head and sighs, and says, “Let me tell you a story: A Priest and a Rabbi attend a boxing match. They watch as the boxers come into the ring. The Rabbi sees one of the boxers cross himself,” (he makes the sign of the cross). “Then the Rabbi turns to the Priest and asks “What does that mean?” The Priest turns to the Rabbi and says “Not a damn thing if the man can’t fight!”

The first time I saw this scene, I thought the joke was just some personal interaction, you know, like some back-story to the characters, personal jabs at personal beliefs. It was the second viewing where I had to stop and think: ‘Hey wait, this is true! If that guy had no business being in that ring, then no amount of prayer or solicitation to God would help him survive. If he had never boxed a round in his life before, then he was a fool, and would surely die.’

I think the writers put that scene into the movie to underline the unspoken theme that these people were about to undertake an enormous project, against all odds, and if they had no faith and no hope in it, then they had no business even starting it. This is no joke, it’s a life or death struggle. They had to own it, or it would own them.

Isn’t that a little bit like it is for me? Here I am, a believer in God, a believer in Jesus Christ, asking God to bless me, and strengthen me, and protect me, as I take on a spiritual fist fight with my own adversaries.

I’m asking, in a way, to be a Phoenix, to take the ruins of my life, and rebuild, resurrect it to the level of a life that glorifies God. Bring this spiritually dead life back to a life abundant!

If I imagine myself as the boxer… do I have any business in the ‘ring’, or am I a fool, and am I only kidding myself? I do seem to be getting pretty hammered, am I surely gonna die? This, too is life or death.

A skilled fighter is one who has spent time under the pupilage of masters. A champion fighter is one who has labored many hours, even years in intensive training, specializing in his area of expertise. A worthy adversary is one that is devoted to learning, training, and practice.

I’m not talking so much here about the people in the desert. They had to rely on what they were provided with: tools, materials, skill sets, ambition, leadership, bravery, faith, hope, and a whole lot of motivation! It’s the joke about the boxer, in this backdrop, that struck me! That was about activating, even asking for God’s blessings and strength, in a talent one believes to have. That boxer believed he could box, and he asked for God’s blessing in it.

So, when I ask God to bless me and strengthen me in my daily struggles, I need to be coming from an orientation of faith, not just faith in Him, which of course is of foremost importance, but in the faith that God created me to believe in Him, to trust Him, and to belong to Him. It’s a faith that I do have a new Identity in Jesus; that I do have a new purpose, and talent, in Christ; and that I do have a Holy God at my back.

Then… in order to stay the course, and fight the good fight, to the good end… I must come before a Mighty God, in humility… but also must I come in trust in his faithfulness to have equipped me abundantly for battle. Also must I submit in confidence that I have done my due diligence in preparing for the road ahead.

2Peter1:3-8 says:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Essence of Evil

Some will concede that Life is a journey, a Spiritual battle. What is this battle of ours really all about? I imagine, depending on where we all are on this journey, there could be a broad spectrum of varying answers, varying relative truths.

But let’s consider this… we know that darkness is the absence of light, so we could imply the inverse; light is the absence of darkness, right? Along the same lines, Evil is the absence of Good; and Good, the absence of Evil.

I know what you’re thinking! “what about twilight, and what about love & tolerance?” Right you are! There’s our broad spectrum of varying degrees of relative truth. Let a little light in, is it still kind’a dark?; let a little darkness in, is it still sort’a light? A drop of evil into good is still mostly good, right? We like to deal in ‘relativity’, we like to mix words.

But, is that even possible? I mean for there to be varying degrees of truth? I guess that depends on who you ask.

So then, is truth ‘relative’ to the perceiver… or, is that merely just PERCEPTION? If we’re talking about perception, it’s all irrelevant then isn’t it?

Then what’s relevant is the question of “Who’s perception really matters to me?” I see three possible answers to this: either My own, Someone else’s, or God’s. (period)

While talking about ‘The Essence of Evil’, Author, Pastor, and Teacher John Piper said this:

“God defines evil this way when he says,

‘My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water’ (Jer 2:13).

God pictures himself as a mountain spring of clean, cool, life-giving water. The way to glorify a fountain like this is to enjoy the water, and praise the water, and keep coming back to the water, and point other people to the water, and get strength for love from the water, and never, never, never prefer any drink in the world over the water. That makes the spring look valuable. That is how we glorify God, the Fountain of Living Water. But, in Jeremiah’s day, people tasted the fountain of God’s grace and did not like it. so they gave their energies to finding better water, more satisfying water. Not only did God call this effort futile, (‘broken cisterns that can hold no water’) but he called it evil: ‘My people have committed two evils.’ They put God’s perfections to the tongue of their souls and disliked what they tasted, then they turned and craved the suicidal cisterns of the world. That double insult to God is what the essence of evil is.”

(from Piper’s book ‘When I Don’t Desire God – How to Fight For Joy’).

I suggest that God’s perception of truth is relative only to Him. Any other perception of truth we seek is not only irrelevant, it’s irreverent… and according to Piper, it’s suicidal!

Is it that God’s desire is that we live within His truth?

He has provided everything for us, we can depend on Him… his truth is not moveable, bendable or soluble… it does not mix well with any amount of untruth, (or any perception other than His).

Perhaps God’s truth says that our sin, our lust, our self-idolatry, is a manifestation of exactly what the people in Jeremiah’s day fell into… they gave their energies to finding a ‘better, more satisfying water.’ God says to us, ‘there’s no truth in that, there’s no future with me in that.’

“For this is what the Lord says—
he who created the heavens,
    he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
    he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
    but formed it to be inhabited—
he says:
“I am the Lord,
    and there is no other.
 I have not spoken in secret,
    from somewhere in a land of darkness;
I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,
    ‘Seek me in vain.’
I, the Lord, speak the truth;
    I declare what is right.”
(Isaiah 45:18-19)

So, “What is this battle of ours really all about?”

I imagine, depending on where we all are on this journey, it’s about how much we let that essence of evil, which is in our earthly essence, into our daily lives. It’s about whether we live for God’s truth; whether we struggle to live from His perspective, or our own, or someone else’s.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
    and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
    and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
 look to Abraham, your father,
    and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
    and I blessed him and made him many.
The Lord will surely comfort Zion
    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the sound of singing. (Isaiah 51:1-3)