The battle truly belongs to the Lord.
Today’s Christian authors offer a mixed bag of titles ranging from the feel good “you can be anything” writers to those offering a detailed hermeneutical approach to the Bible. With the former, I can get that same comfort from any pop psychologist. With the latter, I usually come away feeling as if I spent hours at the feet of a wise college professor.
Simple, Yet Profound
All too rare is the writer who speaks plainly to me, offering practical Biblical advice that I can easily absorb and find transformative. Bob Schultz is one such writer, a simple carpenter by trade whose book, “Everyday Battles: Knowing God Through Our Daily Conflicts,” has meant so much to me. Schultz never finished his book as it was published posthumously by his widow in 2011, three years after his unexpected death.
Schultz’s writing style is simple, yet profound, attracting a following of readers who have found his advice easy to grasp and just as easy to apply. This book, like his three earlier works, is directed to young men, but this 50-something man can see where anyone would benefit from reading it. Married for more than 30 years, Schultz was the father of three young women when he was struck by a massive heart attack that ushered him into the presence of the Lord.
Though unfinished, “Everlasting Battles” brings the reader to a conclusion that every Christian must find — that God truly loves him, has a plan for his life and that the world has nothing to offer compared to the peace we can know when we put all our cares and concerns in the loving hands of Almighty God.
Countering the Lies
Schultz goes to the heart of the matter by advising the reader to first recognize the lie we’ve all been told — that we’re not good enough for God and that we cannot come to God with our sins. We’ve all heard that “God is love” but do we truly believe it? Or, do we think that God is mad at us or requires us to do something to earn his favor? When encountering a setback or other disappointment, it is easy to accuse God of failing us. Instead of falling for that destructive mindset, Schultz urges us to “look for Him in the middle of it all and you will find Him.” (page 22)
The author goes on to warn that “the man who says that the Christian life is always full of prosperity, health, and unending laughter tells a lie.” It is in those tough times where we can know God’s heart, exploring the depth of His love for us. That love Schultz says was demonstrated to the Israelites as they moved through the wilderness with the Lord tabernacling with men as they journeyed. Schultz offers a vivid reminder that Christ is the greater and more perfect tabernacle, one not made by hands, but by means of His own blood. (Hebrews 9:11-12) The veil separating God from man was forever torn asunder as Jesus paid the price for our sins. That event is what we should focus on, remembering that our sins were washed with His blood.
Anecdotes and Instruction
The author time and again shares examples of where God has worked in his life and in the lives of those near to him. In one story, Bob shares the time in 1973 when he walked into a Volkswagen dealership and was met by a salesman who said to him, “you couldn’t afford one of those vans even if you wanted one.” A much younger Bob answered that he could and ended up buying the van. However, he couldn’t afford the vehicle, he wasn’t able to make payments and he begged the dealer to take the vehicle back, paying $1,000 to get out of the deal. (page 81) Schultz noted that it was the “fool’s way” of learning, but it quickly set him on the path to learn the wise man’s way, by showing him the wisdom of inquiring of God before making a rash decision.
Everyday Battles is peppered with anecdotes that demonstrate God’s care and concern for His people. One such story was told of two brothers who were in the very profitable lumbering business as partners. One morning, one of the brothers announced that he was getting out of the business. That prompted the other brother to quit too as he was only in business if that business was managed with his brother. The brothers, both Christians, sold the business for a profit, getting out before the market collapsed. Instead of losing their shirts, the brothers listened to the Lord and avoided catastrophe that they never would have seen coming. It is that sensitivity to the Holy Spirit Schultz wants the reader to understand, our help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Wise Men and Fools
Chapter 12 was perhaps the most instructive of all chapters for me. In “Making Your Own Decisions” the reader is reminded of just how important it is to make wise decisions and those decisions are made by those who diligently seek God. “Battles and decisions are designed to turn our eyes upon God,” implores Schultz, giving examples such as King David who saw Bathsheba and went after her without checking in with God for his approval. That led to covering up his sin by killing Uriah, her husband, and eventually brought David a lifetime of heartache. Most notably, Schultz reminds us that God’s decisions end conflicts while our decisions create them. Both will bring us to the Lord, but in different ways. Wise men seek God and go directly to Him. Fools go their own path and come to the Lord when the battles are especially painful and overwhelming. But there is also a third group of people what Schultz calls “scorning fools” or people who follow their own path, but curse God and would prefer to die rather than to submit to His will. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to playing the fool with some of my decisions, but am thankful to know that God does forgive and set us on the right path we come back to Him.
I did not buy Schultz’ book, rather it was purchased by my wife for our oldest son. She decided to not give it to him, at least right away, but was prompted by the Lord to give it to me this past weekend. Initially, my wife thought I would be mad that she was giving the book to me, given my sometimes moody and must I say fleshly demeanor. But God knew that the book was right for me as I was struggling with making some decisions and found myself in an unhappy place of not knowing the direction I should take. I’m still waiting on that answer, but I can tell you that after devouring the book in two days and using the book to minister to my heart, I feel closer to the Lord and sense a peace even in the midst of a time of testing.
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