One of the greatest temptations I think we have in this world is to fight. We like to argue, to take a stand, to be right about something. And we're generally willing to diminish someone else's standing to raise our own.
There's been a lot of opportunity lately for Christians to fight. Some in this world are even trying to bait us into it. They want to press our buttons so that we throw punches instead of wash feet. They want us to shout instead of serve. They want us to fight instead of forgive. They want us to lose our love.
And I'm not innocent. I have to admit that sometimes, I get suckered into all this drama. Sometimes, I want to speak love so loud that I forget to actually live it. And I come off fighting. Not because I want to fight, but because that's the language of this world so often. The loudest voice wins. The strongest argument wins. The biggest following wins.
It's so easy to fight.
When I came to understand this and began to realize how deeply this fighting was weaving its way into my life, I had to figure out how to get out of it. It seems like such a noble prayer to pray, "Lord, if this is not my fight, then take me out of it." I've prayed that prayer. I've prayed for God to give me the strength to keep quiet, to step back, to stand at a distance and be broken-hearted, but not baited back into the ring.
The trouble is that for as noble as it sounds, as disciplined as it sounds, it doesn't hit at the heart of the problem. When you get so used to fighting in your life, and it's so easy to jump in and start throwing punches (even punches in the name of "love" because that's how we Christians so often fight, or tell ourselves we are), asking God to take you out of the fight is a lot like asking the coach to bench you.
You're not fighting, but you still want to.
Every word you want to say is sitting on the tip of your tongue. Every punch you want to throw is trapped in your clenched fists. You're just waiting on the bell to ring so you can stand up, toss off your coat, and get back in there. You're planning your next attack, even while holding yourself back, and it all becomes eventually unfair. You could win! You could really win. You've convinced yourself of that. But you're not allowed to throw any more punches. You're not allowed to make any more points.
It's inherently unfair. Here you are, poised to win, and you're sitting on the sidelines because of all things, you prayed to be benched.
So here's the thing: I've prayed that prayer. I've asked to be benched. And it doesn't work. Because I live my life wanting to fight, but choosing not to, and the tension is just incredible. The anxiety is tremendous. It stirs up more trouble in my heart than it settles. And at some point, I decided it was my prayer that was off. So...I changed it.
I don't ask to be benched any more; that doesn't work. I don't try to discipline myself into staying out of it; I can't. It just makes me want to be in there all the more. I no longer pray, "Lord, if this is not my fight, take me out of it." That just puts me in a tougher spot.
Instead, I've taken to praying, "Lord, if this is not my fight, take it out of me." Let me walk away and not look back. Let me leave the arena altogether. Let me hear the bell and not even flinch. Don't put me on the bench; I can hardly handle it. Instead, put me somewhere I can be of real use. Put me somewhere forgiving, not fighting. Put me somewhere serving, not shouting. Put me somewhere loving, not losing. Lead me out of here, Lord, because if I stay, I won't be able to help myself. I'm a fighter. Make me a friend.
Sometimes, I have to pray that prayer over and over. I look at the fight, and I'm tempted. And it would be so easy to jump back in. But I settle my heart and pray again, "Lord, if this is not my fight, take it out of me." Every time I want to make a point, I pray, "Lord, if this is not my fight...." Every time I want to throw a punch, "Lord, if this is not my fight...." Lord, if this is not my fight, take it out of me.
And you know what? He usually does. Because most of the fights in this world? They aren't mine. As much as I may want a piece of the action, these are not my fights.
Most of the fights in this world? They aren't yours. Let them go. Walk away. Go somewhere you can be of real use. Forgive. Serve. Love. Pray. "If this is not my fight, Lord, take it out of me."