You and What Army?
I saw a picture in my mind of a little child standing and facing a great army. I was the little child and the army I faced was the evil of the world: abuse, violence, betrayal, the culture of death and so much more. It was too much, and if I kept looking at all the ugliness, I would get so discouraged wondering what I could possibly do to make a difference – concluding that there was nothing. The evil was too great and I was too little.
And then I saw an even greater army of warriors behind me. They were strong and bright and confident and filled with God’s power. And I, the little child, stood up taller and with more boldness, no longer afraid or discouraged by the evil I faced. I knew I was not fighting alone. I had God’s army behind me.
I became David facing Goliath, Esther facing the King, and Peter facing the people who crucified His Master. I was not alone. I could not see my army, but I knew they were there.
Like other believers, I want to get to heaven. But I can’t get there on my own. I have an army behind me that is helping me on the journey. You, too, have an army of God’s warriors behind you, helping you face the giants in your life.
So who is this army? It is the Communion of Saints. Paul calls believers saints. We are supposed to support each other in the journey, especially through prayer. So who is in my army of prayer warriors?
My husband. I know he prays for me every day – probably many times. And hopefully my son as well. Surely he is praying for me. He is in my army.
My mother - and my father when he was alive. They prayed each day for me and for each of my sisters and brother – for us to draw nearer to God, to find a good spouse, to strengthen our marriages, to help us heal from the tragedies of our lives, and so much more.
My sisters and my brother are in my army, praying for me, maybe not as fervently as my parents, but still praying. And I have a family not by blood – my church family. Every time I go to mass one of the prayer intentions is for those in the congregation. At First Baptist of Blairsville, in each weekly staff meeting they pray for specific families in the church and send out a post card to those families to let them know they were prayed for that week.
The people I serve in retreats and spiritual direction are part of my army, as is my own spiritual director. Even people I don’t know are part of my army. Maybe I’ve never met you, but if you pray for me, you’re part of my army. Thank you! I’m listening to the Catechism in a Year podcast and at the end, Fr. Mike asks us to pray for each other, so I’m praying for all the listeners, whoever they are – and they are praying for me. Strangers from all over the world are praying for each other. We are part of each other’s army.
That’s just the beginning – the people still alive in this world. There is also an entire army in Heaven behind me because even when we die in this life we are alive in Heaven. More alive! So who in Heaven is in my army?
The people I have known and loved through the years. My father, my grandparents and all of my ancestors.
All the saints in Heaven are in my army. Revelation tells us that they are under the altar offering prayers to God. This includes the small "s" saints (people who lived lives worthy of Heaven and the capital "S" saints like St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa, St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Thomas and of course the Virgin Mary.
My guardian angel is right beside me. I can’t see him, but he is always there. And he must be frightening because whenever an angel appears to someone in the Bible he says, Do not be afraid. My guardian angel is in my army.
Most importantly, my army is led by God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All power comes from them.
When I think about the army behind me, I stand up tall like the great warrior that I am. And you, too, are a great warrior. It’s not because you have any amazing skills like the hero in a movie. It is all because of the army behind you.
Psalm 46 says “I shall not fear even though the earth be shaken and the mountains quake to the depths of the sea.” How can someone unafraid when the world is crumbling around them? Because God is my strength, my shield, my fortress.
Warriors know who’s got their back and that helps them fight with more confidence. When I think I have to trust in my own strength, I am not very effective. I’m kind of like Simon Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is arrested and Peter takes out his sword and swings it wildly, taking off the ear of one of the soldiers. I get the feeling he wasn’t aiming for the ear, it’s just what he happened to hit. There was so much he didn’t understand in that moment, and he reacted without really thinking. I don’t want to be a warrior like Simon Peter in that moment. I want to be like him on Pentecost when he confidently stood on the balcony of the Upper Room and shared the Good News. The evil was the same in the Garden as it was on Pentecost. The difference for Peter was the Holy Spirit. He understood that there was an army behind him and he could stand tall.
In our spiritual battles we can be like Simon in the Garden, thinking that it’s all up to us to fight this battle. We can panic when we realize how weak we are and how totally inept we are in battle. That can make us give up – make us back down. If I remember that I have an army behind me, I can follow Tom Petty's advice and say, “I won’t back down.” I will be like Peter on Pentecost and face the evil without letting it overcome me.
I am a warrior. I am God’s warrior. So are you! I am in God’s army and he has equipped me to fight spiritual battles every day. I will stand with Him at my back and with my army of people in this world and in the next, and with my guardian angel. I will proclaim God’s word at every opportunity. I won’t let the evil one frighten me with how big he has gotten or how powerful or how ugly. God will always be greater.
We are called to fight. We are in a spiritual battle, and will be until the last breath. Thank God for your army, and remember that you are part of someone else’s army as well. And fight the good fight. With God on our side, how can we lose?
So with that, here are some questions to bring to prayer.
Who is in your army? Who’s got your back? Thank God for each person.
Whose army are you in? How can you help other warriors gain strength and confidence as they fight their own spiritual battles?