Sundays are the most challenging days for me. And the most challenging part of Sundays are the hours before church starts. During those hours, I feel like a boxer in a corner of the ring preparing for a fight. As I blow dry my hair, put on makeup, and choose clothes to wear, I am praying and pumping myself up for what is to come.
Every Sunday, I must beat these thoughts into submission and wrestle them into order. Every Sunday, it's this working it out, squaring off with small deceptions and insecurities, digging through to the truth, fighting for God's heart and an others-focused perspective.
Please don't misunderstand. My boxing match is not because I don't love God or love the church or love the people in my life. Not at all. It's that my flesh loves itself most of all. The fight is a spiritual one. If I surrender to doubt, resentment, insecurities, and apathy, I stay inside my head, focused on myself, paralyzed and unaware of others. When I surrender in defeat to my flesh, I am rendered useless in ministry.
At least now I recognize the war I am in. At least now I fight back, drawing on the Spirit's power. In the early days of ministry, I'd go to church alone and walk around in a bubble of self-doubt and self-consciousness. Who will talk to me? What do they think of me? Am I good enough? Am I doing the right things? I cringe to think of the opportunities I missed to hear from God and encourage others to come out of their own bubbles of self-doubt.
Now, I fight hard. I recognize that the battle is not evidence of my incompetencies and inabilities, as I saw it before, but evidence of a spiritual reality for every believer. Now, I fight back with truth, working it out while I work out the tangles in my hair and the mascara.
No, I have nothing to offer anyone, but the Spirit works powerfully through me in my weakness.
Yes, I'm tired and needy, but I trust that God will provide the encouragement and strength that I need.
No, I'm not capable or good enough to do this, but if I cling to God, He will produce fruit in and though me.
Yes, it's a possibility and a risk that I will be overlooked, but there are others I will interact with today who feel the same. Might I be God's answer for them through my touch or my words? I will seek to serve and not be served. I will seek opportunities to be a blessing, rather than seeking a blessing.
By the time I have brushed my teeth, put on some earrings, and slipped on my shoes, the skirmish is done. There will be others, for sure. But I know I am ready for church, not because of the primping I've done in front of the mirror, but because the eyes of my heart have turned upward toward Him and outward in anticipation of those I will encounter.
Are you in the battle? How do you fight and wrestle with untruths?