I was born with a unique DNA and there is much that goes into that genetic makeup, helps determine my temperament, my gifting, my intellect, and my tendencies as well as the personality, which began before I was born. Those nine months influenced every aspect of my functioning. From the day of my birth, environmental factors and experiences were added to the mix of what shaped who I was. All of these did not, however, bear the burden of the development of my character. Yet, I could certainly look at all the history of the things I have mentioned and choose to blame them for my character and its shape.
I could easily blame any number of my flaws, weaknesses, and negative qualities on all these other things. I think we are all good at that. I think it comes from the DNA from the original garden where we humans began when Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve. Were the things they chose which led to so much turmoil influenced by forces outside of themselves? Of course! Even so, they made a choice to allow those influences to determine the shape of their character and absolve them of the responsibility of their choices. They forgot they were players in a great battle against forces that were not flesh and blood, but used flesh and blood to taunt, tempt, tease, and triumph over them.
Thousands of years later, we are tempted to be not much different than Adam and Eve. We blame our brother or sister when we are young children for why we chose to act in a certain way. Oddly enough, when we grow up to be adults we often do the same thing. We blame our parents for not providing us for what we needed so we could be smarter, better, and more successful. As adults, we might blame our bosses, our spouses, our professors, or the government. We can blame the neighborhood we grew up in and what happened to us there at any age or stage of life. Adam and Eve ultimately blamed the serpent, the evil challenging them there and we can do that as well. Before we are done, we might also be tempted to blame God since He was the one who got everything started in the first place.
If we continue to do these things, these are the very things that will shape our character and result in tendencies to feel victimized, bitter, angry, resentful, and more. We can insist that many of the things that are in play were not our fault and that might also be true, but the issue is what we do with those very things and what truth we allow to have the power to inform us about who we were and are as well as whose we are. The battle is not about flesh and blood, but make no mistake we are definitely caught up in a great battle. Perhaps that is why some of my favorite movies are those in the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings because they serve to remind me in powerful ways of what is happening and what my role is to be.
In a wonderful book by Ken Gire entitled The North Face of God, Ken writes a description that stirs my mind, heart, and spirit and helps shape my character and my choices. It reads as follows:
“There is a battle that lies before us, before each of us, a battle set in motion before the dawn of time and fought in every generation until the once and future King returns. Now the fate of our Middle-earth falls on us, on you and on me and on all who bear the name of the King. The enemy has never been more relentless, never more cunning, never more ruthless. A daunting decision stands between us and that enemy.
We can sheathe our swords in retreat. We can lay down our swords in surrender. We can fall on our swords in despair. Or we can, with the brave who have gone before us, draw our swords and ride with full fury into the enemy’s ranks.”
Today I choose to ride with the One who has won my heart and affection. He has not promised us ease, world peace, or a perfect life without challenges, wounds, and scars, but He HAS promised us He will be with us always, never stop loving us, and grant us grace when we falter.