October 14, 2009

The Battle is the Lord's

2009 1529 page27 capY CELL PHONE RANG. I LOOKED AT THE CALLER ID. IT WAS SASHA. “GOD, help me,” I prayed. Sasha would want to get together, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of begging God for forgiveness again.
I don’t know if you’ve ever lost friends because of your walk with God. Unsurprisingly, I lost many non-Christian friends when I started attending church regularly. But I’ve also lost Christian friends.
I liked spending time with Sasha,* a lively, happy-go-lucky guy I befriended at the Moscow International Seventh-day Adventist Church. But after a couple of years it seemed that the more I desired to grow closer to Jesus, the less interest Sasha showed in spiritual things. It reached the point that whenever we met I always ended up breaking at least one of God’s principles. I never planned ?to disobey—it always just happened. For example, once Sasha came over to my apartment on ?a Friday, and before I knew it we were watching secular movies during the Sabbath hours.
2009 1529 page27Every time we parted ways I found myself asking God for forgiveness. The guilt grew, and I started inventing schemes to make sure I obeyed God the next time Sasha and I got together. But nothing worked. Sasha always seemed able to convince me to do something I later regretted.
I didn’t want to end the friendship; but even more, I didn’t want to disobey God. So I prayed and fashioned a last-ditch plan: I would avoid Sasha. The Bible, after all, says if your arm offends you, cut it off. I was desperate.
Friday soon rolled around, and my cell phone rang. That’s when I prayed. Sasha’s cheerful voice rang out on the other end, “Hey Andy, come over to my place.”
The invitation sounded appealing. But I remembered my plan and declined. When Sasha demanded an explanation, I couldn’t lie. The plain truth, however, seemed too harsh, so I said, jokingly, “Because I don’t want to.” Sasha joked in return, asking what I planned to do that ?outweighed a day with him. I admitted that I was just going to stay home.
Sasha hung up. But Satan wasn’t going to let me off so easily. After an hour, Sasha called again, asking if I had changed my mind. Then he called again. Sitting at home in front of the computer was boring, especially when I could be out having fun. As I stared at my computer screen, I knew that if Sasha called one more time, I wouldn’t be able to refuse. I prayed desperately.
Then I remembered King Jehoshaphat’s prayer when Judah’s enemies had surrounded Jerusalem. Knowing he had no hope for victory on his own, Jehoshaphat prayed: “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
God rewarded Jehoshaphat’s faith by replying: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:12, 15).
I prayed: “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You. The battle is not mine, but Yours.”
At that moment my phone rang.
I cautiously looked at the caller ID.It wasn’t Sasha. Another friend was calling to say he unexpectedly had a free afternoon and wanted to go out. I didn’t feel like going anywhere, but for some reason I felt compelled to agree. I quickly got dressed and left the apartment. Twenty minutes later I stood in a subway car hurtling toward downtown Moscow when my cell phone rang. It was Sasha. I couldn’t hear him over the noise in the metro and asked him to call back later. I thanked God that my other friend had called first.
Sasha called back the next day and he wasn’t happy. It turned out that Sasha, frustrated that I kept refusing to leave my apartment, had decided to force me out. He had arrived at my doorstep just minutes after I had left. If I had stayed home just a few minutes longer, I probably would have ended up breaking one of God’s principles again.
The timing was perfect; because the battle was not mine, but God’s.
*Not his real name.
Andrew McChesney is a journalist in Russia. This article was published October 15, 2009.