It was late and I was tired. I danced carelessly around my emotional cliff and conditions began brewing for the perfect marital conflict.
I don’t remember exactly what was said or done—an all-too-common occurrence with our frivolous arguments—but I do remember my husband was irritating and he was wrong.
We didn’t get into a physical fight, but punches can take many forms. In fact, the emotional and spiritual ones can be much more devastating. And we were both ready to start swinging. But quarrels can be painful when the battleground is your heart.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rules, against authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
It wasn’t our first fight. Unfortunately, we had experience with these things. But it was the first time that God revealed to me that surrender is inevitable. Surrender to my flesh would mean defeat by the devil. Surrender to the Spirit would mean defeat of the devil.
I had a choice to make.
In hindsight, the right choice seems obvious, but the enemy is a tricky fellow. He has a consistent assault plan. He blinds us to our own sin. He spotlights the faults of others. He wants us to defend, justify, escalate or withdraw. And I’m good at all of those responses. But this time was different. Something miraculous and transformative happened.
I allowed the Holy Spirit to take over and for the first time, I yielded to His control. I slowly walked towards my husband in the other room, closing the space that so conveniently kept my defensive heart deceptively safe. That walk felt tougher than elephants running through wet cement.
It took grit. Surrender can be both brutally painful and beautiful.
I knew what God was asking me to do, but I didn’t really want to do it. Yet in cautious obedience, I admitted my wrongs and asked for his forgiveness. I reached towards him, placing my hands on his stiffened shoulders. As I began massaging his neck, his muscles released under my fingers, as did my pride.
The walls around our hearts fell.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2
I’ve heard it said that the first to ask for forgiveness is the strongest. But I believe that the first to surrender is stronger still.
For every step of gritty faith, God draws in closer to reveal Himself. With each terrifying step out, God moves in. Sometimes in small ways, but often in big ways. In all circumstances when we surrender, we get to experience God.
The times I’ve felt farthest from His presence are the times I’m focused on “self”. When I’m walking in self-reliance, self-motivation or self-determination, when I’m relying on my comfort, focused on my worthless idols and consumed in my hurried busyness, He is the most distant.
I’ve learned the hard way that what consumes me, controls me. Instead of completely depending on Him, instead of admitting that i’m helplessly broken and tattered, instead of picking up my heavy cross, I selfishly protect. I seek affirmation, attention and applause. I desire to be liked and to belong.
Those are my fleshly moments, but I desire faithful moments. I want my faith to be gritty.
Gritty faith lives in light of eternity. It realizes that the visible is fleeting and that the invisible is a greater reality.
Gritty faith is counter-cultural. We are short-sighted mammals with unregenerate hearts. We don’t have the faith to move mountains. We can’t muster it, earn it, create it, or demand it. We must ask for it from a grace-filled Savior.
Gritty faith reminds us to the souls of men and the Word of God are the only things that last. They are the only things worth investing in and dying for.
Gritty faith is backwards. It tells the first to be last, the leaders to serve, and those who want to live to die. It is madness, yet somehow perfect.
Gritty faith is about loving Christ and letting go of all other things—your plans, your control, your agenda, your abilities, your need to do it all right. Your need to stay busy. Your need to be perfect at everything you do.
Gritty faith makes it good and right and honorable to give ourselves away for our kids, spouse, hurting friend, irritable boss, the least, the lost and the undesirable.
Gritty faith stretches us, pours us out and helps us find comfort in the uncomfortable. It helps you find satisfaction in His glory, not in your victory.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Gritty faith is ultimately about surrender. Not once, but each and every time, moment by moment, piece by piece.
I’m not gritty yet, but I want to be. And on rare occasions, I’ve tasted its goodness.
There was nothing sweeter than crawling into bed with my husband late that night. He tenderly kissed my cheek and wrapped his arms around me. I lay there thinking of how differently that evening could’ve gone if I hadn’t fully surrendered.
I had to die that night. Pride had to be emptied and a cross had to be carried. But I found an amazing peace and comforting love that night.
And I realized it wasn’t just my husband’s arms around me, it was Jesus’ too.