French philosopher Montaigne has said of the battle at Thermopylae,

There are triumphant defeats that rival victories.”

This may seem like a contridiction or merely a play on words, but have you ever seriously thought about it? Today, studying a chapter from Os Guinness’s book The Call, I was faced with a new thought challenge. How can you have a triumphant defeat?

Mr. Guinness makes a strong case for our attitude and behaviour in the midst of a battle, explaining how a small group of Spartans fought courageously so many years ago, fighting with hands and teeth when their swords were gone. Knowing that we live in a fallen world, and knowing that in the end the victory is His and not ours, I wonder if God is watching and waiting for us to “behave as if He would wish us to behave?”

I have certainly experienced my own version of a battle this past year. And I know that I was not always fighting through it with courage and dedication. What a great reminder today from 2 Timothy 4!

  • Preach the Word – I can’t preach it if I don’t know it. I need to study this letter to me and then unashamedly share it with others.
  • Be Prepared – Along with studying the Word in preparation, my relationship with Him must come first. I do not want to be a fake.
  • Teach and Encourage – Encouragement may come easily for me, but do I act on every nudge from the Spirit? Teaching is not as natural for me since I am relentlessly impatient. But the Lord has surrounded me with amazing students, I need to be obedient and teach when it is called for.
  • Keep a Clear Mind – Yes, in every situation. <pause> Not sure what else to say…
  • Don’t Be Afraid of Suffering – I realize that it is laziness that has motivated me to ask for an end to the suffering that I have experienced personally. I just don’t want to expend the energy needed to fight. I suppose this is where I need to look to my “Spartan” friends for inspiration and face the fight head on. It’s a time to stand!
  • Work at Telling Others the Good News – Even though I work for Dare 2 Share, I still stink at sharing Christ boldly. I love the fact that this is a work in progress. It is progress in this area that I truly desire – may I be a better witness this year than last.
  • Fully Carry Out the Ministry God has Given Me – for whatever reason, I am where I am. I need to fully carry out what He has called me to do right now.

I want to end this post with a great quote from The Call:

A time to stand is a time to behave as our Lord would wish us to behave. A time to behave is a time to believe as He has taught us to believe. A time to believe is a time to move from small, cozy formulations of faith to knowing what it is to be called by Him as the deepest, most stirring, and most consuming passion of our lives.”

If I face any defeat in my future Lord, let me face it with a triumphant resolve for Your glory!