Victory Comes In Unexpected Packages
The last few weeks have been especially hard with emotional and physical struggles. It’s hard to feel victorious when chronic pain acts out and each joint cries out in agony. It’s difficult to see the incremental healing that God has done when I was bedridden and could barely function to now. Even though the pain is a horrible thing to endure it does not mean I lack victory. Sometimes victory looks like showing up to something and giving all I have even while tears are at the corners of my eyes. Sometimes the rest I have to take is a victory as it means I have overcome the need to perform in order to feel loved by God during my early walk. The tests and trials we walk through may look the same, but many times how we respond to them is victory. There are more grand displays of victory I know I know. We want those. I want to be fully healed immediately, and not in increments. We want it to be in a certain way and we’d like it now please, thank you very much. On a personal note, I would love to know what it feels like to wake up without pain everywhere. And although many wouldn’t know it to look at me, there is a cost to serve in the capacity that I do. It’s this that led me to look at victory differently. Because on the outside looking in, it would seem as if there is little to celebrate, but nothing can be further from the truth.
As I was worshipping the Lord, I felt Him share with me; Victory comes in unexpected packages. He began to flood me with examples of what others expected versus the form that it came in.
Here are a few examples He led me to:
- A baby as the Savior of the World ( A helpless baby a Savior?)
- A smooth small stone to kill a Giant when men in armor were afraid ( A stone?)
- A carpenter’s son was the Son of God ( Where did He come from?)
- A King that arrives on a donkey rather than a royal procession ( Where is His army?)
- A Ruddy Shepherd boy is anointed as a King while his handsome brothers are passed over ( a lowly shepherd boy as a King?)
- Jesus dying on the cross conquered Death ( How is death victory?)
- A Samaritan who kept the law better than the Religious Jews ( The Samaritans who invited idolatry and tried to sabatoge the rebuilding of the temple?)
I have heard many call the Kingdom of Heaven the backwards Kingdom because it challenges our fleshly linear order of things. I would like to propose the kingdom of pride is the backwards kingdom as it sells self serving behavior and it comes in many forms. Even churches become their own fleshly Kingdom when they build it upon being served rather than what it was intended to do: serve others. Pride even likes to tell God how He should be working in our lives and what it should look like. It doesn’t want to see victory wrapped in anything other than the pattern of paper it sees in its mind, and if the shape of the package is wrong it will miss it altogether.But it’s the Kingdom of Christ established by His Word that says the last shall be first and the first shall be last, and it says that even ashes can be divinely exchanged for beauty. It is a Kingdom full of hope and where there is hope there is victory.
When we look at Jesus telling the story of the Good Samaritan, He reveals the heart of those who were religious in nature.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The Priest walked by and upon seeing him from afar chose to cross the street most likely so he would not be defiled by what looked like a soon to be dead body. The Levite went over to examine the suffering man, and THEN crossed the street deciding that the situation was all too messy to get involved in. The religious leaders looked at all circumstances through the eyes of the law while Jesus looked at the law through the eyes of Love. The Good Samaritan saw this in the way he bound of the wounds, gave the stranger a place to sleep and money to eat. This was the law of loving your neighbor as yourself through the eyes of love. Love in action. Still, it was difficult to get past the package it came in. Jews and Samaritans were a divided tribe that once broken off allowed various distortions to the laws. Still though, in that moment none of it mattered.
The two “holiest” men out of three took the easy way while the man who was culturally deemed an enemy of the suffering Jewish man, became neighbor. What if the man on the road had refused help? What if pride had said, No I will wait for someone more suitable to come along. I would rather suffer than be helped by the likes of you”? What if the Samaritan had recalled every hated things his people said about the Jewish people and thought, “Let them help their own kind.” The robbers who attacked had an agenda “steal, kill and destroy”. The man was stripped naked and in the middle of a road. The Samaritan used his own provisions to serve, wine and oil. It’s a beautiful illustration of what Jesus did for us, bringing new wine, the wine of Love and the oil of healing through His own crushing and pressing. This is the epitome of compassion. This is the purest form of Love. It is this that the Jewish lawyer missed when he answered Jesus’ question without referring to the Samaritan by name. He didn’t like the package mercy came in revealing the lack of love within his heart.
Often times when we hear the word “Victory” we associate it with spiritual warfare and then liken it to two opposing forces going head to head. I am not saying that it isn’t part of it, but if we only use the human concept of war with human weapons we miss the point. We are operating from the standpoint of victory. Victory is our position and we don’t have to earn it because Jesus paid it, but if we are not operating in love then we are not operating in victory. Jesus was victorious on the cross even when he looked like a victim to everyone else. Love was His weapon and Satan never saw it coming. Victory has many meanings, but of all of them the most important to understand is WHO makes us victorious. Colossians 2:15 says, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” All victory comes from the hand of God.The armor of Christ that we wear that allows us victory is still HIS armor. It’s easy to measure victory through the performance based perspective or the win or lose category. We are trained in our society to view victory as fleeting and in our hands. Let’s take a deep breath and understand that obedience, even when it feels impossible, is victory. Choosing hope in the face of despair is victory. Speaking life when we see death is victory. Living a life to advance the Kingdom is victory. If the Kingdom of heaven is not linear then why would victory be? One look at the Israelites and we learn that journeys are not linear, and the resulting victory usually comes from revelation, sacrifice, and obedience rather than fleshly force. It is Christ who advances, accelerates, and accompanies us even in the wilderness places.
The Jews looked for a King to overthrow the Roman Kingdom, a small microcosm of a much larger heart issue, but He overthrew the Kingdom of Darkness with the currency of Love. Jesus allowed Himself to be stripped so we would not be like the man robbed and left for dead in the road. Some look to religion for victory or platforms and formulas, but Love is what sets the captives free. When the sons of Sceva used Jesus’ name but lacked His heart they were stripped naked and abused by the demons they tried casting out. They wanted the power without the process and the victory without cost.
Waiting for what it should look like can make us miss the miracle! It is the crushing of our fleshly desire to control what it should look like and it is the pressing of many trials that leads to the victory. It is in the stripping where love is truly birthed into victory.