Taking the Goodness Challenge

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In the fourth session of The Art of Thinking Brilliantly, Graham said:

“What if we cannot be challenged by life, by oppositional people, or by the enemy. What if we can only ever be challenged by the goodness of God?

If you accept your circumstances as a challenge from the enemy, then you have to do warfare. The enemy loves to draw you into warfare that is never going to go anywhere, that is just designed to weary you…you never fight the enemy on his terms. Just because he shows up rattling his sword against his shield doesn’t mean you have to fight him. You fight him when God tells you to fight him.

Satan doesn’t want you opposing him in the fruit of the Spirit. He wants you using your own energy to take authority over him so he can wear you out. He distracts you into a fight. Your role is to stay and abide in Jesus, and you only fight when Jesus tells you to fight.”

I’m a warrior by nature. I love a good fight, which works well for me in a lot of things, not so much in others. Always being up for a battle has its pitfalls and one of them is, I’ve often been a sucker for the obvious fight. I remember listening to this talk when Graham gave it five years ago and thinking, “Yeah that’s me…and that’s going to need to change.”

It’s been a process for sure, one that I’ve probably learned more through failure than success. But even when I missed it, I can remember feeling a greater sense of understanding what made me vulnerable; being physically tired, emotionally invested and working to solve problems at a ground level instead of living in the worship and rest that provides a more elevated perspective. If you toss in a situation that involves injustice, it’s kind of like waving a red cape before a very bull-headed gal.

What I’ve loved about this journey is in the discovery that my weakness consistently makes God smile. He wasn’t grinning about my earth-bound mindsets, but at His complete confidence in His ability to transform this area of my life. While I’m never fond of failure, I have come to adore how kind He is to me when it occurs. More than once, I could hear that gentle voice, filled with affection, saying, “Ah…took the bait for the obvious fight again, did we? Yeah, that one wasn’t on My calendar, but you already realized that. Okay sweetheart, what did you learn this time?” God is such a genius at offering a conversation, not condemnation.

Time and again, that goodness opened a wide door to repentance, to turn and go a more excellent way…gladly.

Last month, all that goodness saved me as never before. In a scenario packed with all of my vulnerable qualities listed above on steroids, I had a moment of truth. I was confronted with the valid opportunity to met injustice with my legal rights, and I would have been on solid ground. But at the very moment I was about to charge, I felt that loving, merciful hand on my shoulder and heard a whispered question:

“How many times will you encounter in this life in which you can meet injustice by being just?”

No persuasive speeches, just a question…and a flood of memories of how good God had been on my worst days time and time again. I looked at the person before me, someone in a rough financial position who saw an opportunity to make a quick gain. I saw the resignation in her eyes, like someone waiting for the justified blow to fall. Her choices had not been right or fair, but that didn’t mean I needed to fight for my rights…not this time.

A grace settled in to reconcile accounts without taking issue of how we had arrived at this point. In the end, I would have agreed beforehand to what was settled afterward. So, instead of a litigation that would have stolen huge amounts of time, the matter was resolved in less than a day. Meeting injustice by being just didn’t mean ignoring the issue, but it mapped a course for how it was to be solved: firmly, reasonably and graciously.

Over the next few days, long forgotten promises washed over me; inheritance words sprung up with amazing new life. It was then that I realized: a fresh, powerful level of my heaven-based legacy had been on the verge of exploding, so the enemy had tried to engage me in a fight for an earthly heritage that would have greatly distracted and wearied me.

Some days, it’s time to fight. Some days, it isn’t. It’s who initiates the challenge that means everything. God challenged me to respond in a new way at a new level. It was a far better challenge to take—and win.

–By Allison Bown

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