Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God,
“O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty!
Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde.
O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
2 Chronicles 14:11 NLT
Last week, I dreamed that I was at a benefit dinner of some sort. There were quite a few people there, most of whom I didn’t know. I remember just standing near the outskirts of a couple different circles of conversation, trying to avoid awkward small-talk, when all of a sudden a dialogue happening behind me caught my attention. I didn’t recognize the voice that was speaking, but after just a few moments it was very obvious the conversation was about me. One person was sharing with another the details of some of my ministry initiatives. As the conversation came closer, a hand touched my shoulder, encouraging me to turn around and meet the people I had been eavesdropping on. The hand was attached to the arm of a man I had never met before, and he was speaking about me to another man whose back was turned to me. As talking man gestured for listening man to turn and meet me, it suddenly dawned on me that I knew listening man! It was a Youth Pastor from my past, eyes shining with excitement over meeting the subject he had just heard so much about. It took him about about 15 seconds to place me. Once he did, I saw his eyes become flat and a smirk form in the corner of his mouth. He turned his gaze back to talking man and said the words I have been afraid of hearing my entire life:
“Oh. It’s just Emily. Never mind.”
With those words still echoing in my head, I woke up. I remember having a contradictory mix of emotions in response to the dream: 1) I felt a sense of relief that one of my greater fears actually happened and it didn’t kill me. 2) I felt heavy – as if I had just been judged and sentenced. My punishment was to be “just Emily” for all of eternity. This was my writing on the wall – I had been weighed and was found wanting. Are all my daily battles – as a mother, a wife, a child of God, a daughter, a human – a foregone conclusion versus “just Emily?”
I carried this heaviness around with me for a couple days, trying to come to a resolution somehow. Then, God completely desecrated the weight of my fears with the awesome story of King Asa in 2 Chronicles, chapter 14.
King Asa, King David’s great-great-grandson, did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the LORD (v.2). As a result, God blessed his reign with peace in the land for 10 years. He destroyed all pagan temples, images and alters in his kingdom and commanded his people to seek the LORD. He was blessed with an army of 580,000 courageous fighting men during this time of peace. Then, one day, an overwhelming battle presented itself: An Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. How did King Asa face his weighing moment?
“…so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, ‘O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!'” (2 Chronicles 14:10-11)
I was so moved by two things in this account. 1) He deploys his armies for battle – in faith, he takes the initiative to enter the battle, rather than hide in fear. 2) He humbly cries out to God in full admission that “It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde.” It is not “just Asa.” It is not “just 580,000 courageous fighting men.” Asa and his warriors are IN God’s name. They are not being judged and sentenced alone in this battle – they give it to God and put their trust in him.
Alone – as just Asa or just Emily – it is a lost, heavy bout in which we are definitely found wanting. But, in reality, I come to battle IN God. My vast horde of mighty imperfections and meek insecurities will all face the Lord who does not let “just men” prevail against him. I come with the One who controls the forces of nature and to whom the universe bends. I come surrounded by an unstoppable force of mercy, justice and truth.
And HE says “She’s with me.”
Challenge: Whenever I am tempted to believe “it’s just Emily,” I will pray as Asa did:
O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty. Help me, O LORD my God, for I trust in you alone. It is in your name that I have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are my God; do not let mere men prevail against you! Amen.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ahdchild/5512007371/”>Ahd Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>