Battles changed drastically with the invention of the gun. Not only in types and number of casualties but in HOW battles were fought. Come the Revolutionary War, you had a curious cross of strategies. There were the British army’s traditional battle lines, fighting against “those darn Americans” hiding behind every tree. Frankly, they didn’t know how to deal with “us.”
Another element with which many are unfamiliar is the amount of smoke that would fill the scene. Weapons predating the American Civil War were inaccurate fiery things. One shot. Reload. One shot. Reload. And a great deal of flame and smoke in the atmosphere as the battle progressed.
This is not a lesson on war and weaponry, but I felt a little introduction needed to be made to give proper understanding of what “the smoke of battle” means. Imagine hundreds or thousands of men on either side firing constantly and soon your vision is filled with it. You can’t see yards in front of you, much less what the other side is doing. Not until the battle ended and the smoke cleared were you aware of the true scope of things.
On July 4th and 5th, the LORD asked me several questions in this regard, which required prayer and research. They also stumped me for a time. How do I properly address them and make His message clear to you? Then again, why address them at all? Many things He speaks are for my ears alone. Other times, I know I need to post them. Frankly, I’m usually reluctant and fighting with myself over drawing any attention. I’m content as a wallflower.
This morning in my devotionals, I asked Him yet again about if I should post and if so, what that would be and up comes these questions again. Still, I sat there debating the futility of my efforts. I’m just a housewife from Auburndale, Florida. Who even listens to me? Then the LORD said something that propelled me forward.
“Be ye faithful as I am faithful,” He said.
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1Th 5:24)
Faithfulness I understand. Routine saved me from fear, in many regards. I am happy in my rut, walking the same path. And I know that I know He is faithful, or I would not be here, writing this at all. He has proven Himself to me. So, with all that under my belt and the previous history lesson addressed, I will plunge forward in obedience.
The Lord asked:
• When the smoke clears, where will you be standing?
• When the smoke clears, will you be ready?
• When the smoke clears, what will you see?
We are in a spiritual battle. We do not fight people but demonic powers working through people to push an anti-Christ agenda. The enemy would destroy our nation and muffle the church. We must push back in prayer and action. However, in our actions, we must also model Christ. Too many are using scenes from Jesus’ life as an excuse to be antagonistic. But read Luke 6 where in one place, He said to endure persecution then immediately tells us to love our enemies. If they ask for your shirt, also give them your coat. (Lk 6:29)
We must balance our words with our actions as He did, who condemned no one, but, in fact, died for the entire world. (Jn 3:16)
When the smoke clears, we must be ready. That is implied in the question. But be ready for what? Well, 2 Timothy 4:2 states, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Ready to preach. Ready to rebuke and exhort. But notice, in the preaching, in any rebuke and exhortation, we must have longsuffering. People will be ugly sometimes, and that requires longsuffering.
Faith requires action. "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only,” it says in James 1:22. A “hearer only” will not be ready to preach and exhort nor will he or she walk by faith in it. In another location, the Word says not to be “dull of hearing.” This means sluggish and lazy. One who is lazy in their hearing will be lazy in their actions as well. (Mt 13:15; Heb 5:11) When I wrote my testimonial book, Fearless, those chapters tell the steps I made, the actions I took to be strong again, and they are ongoing, even today. I seek daily to walk in strength and purity. Daily, I work not gossip and complain. I push myself to do things that are uncomfortable (like writing this).
I like the words of 1 Peter 3:15. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
I must be ready to answer but also speak in meekness and fear, or reverence, for God. This is our attitude in hearing and taking action. We offer the hope that is within us but always with God’s holiness in mind. There is no place in it for anger nor excuses for our anger. Being angry is easy. Speaking out of anger is easy. Being self-controlled (a fruit of the Holy Spirit) is not. (Gal 5:22-23) It takes deliberate effort.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, remember? But, what? Mighty THROUGH GOD to pull down strong holds. (2Cor 10:4) Not mighty through ourselves. Insert spiteful words and, again, excuses. “But Jesus overturned the moneychangers.” But Jesus also loved a tax collector who’d stolen money from many and forgave a woman caught in adultery. So, yeah, let’s go there.
I get it. People can be nasty. But people are who He died to save, and we, the church, must model ourselves after Him. I like what Minister Bill Johnson said about a woman who came to him with a word she was convinced came from God. He listened. He balanced it against the Word of God and knew she was off base. He didn’t call her out on in it or rebuke her for it because, as He put it, what courage it’d taken her to speak to him at all. Wow. I pray I can think that way under pressure.
Because to be ready, we must stay prepared for the outcome. Not in nervous agitation but in confidence in the One we prepare for. If He has called us to do it, then we should know, for sure, how things will end. That is WHY we have faith at all. We know His character. He was victorious over the devil, once and for all, and He will have His way today. This readiness determines WHERE we are standing when the smoke clears. Will we find ourselves fallen in a foxhole, trapped amongst the enemy? Or will we be on the mountaintop, the valley spread out far below?
On July 4th the LORD said:
When the smoke clears, what will you see on the valley floor? The slain? Those fallen in battle? Wounded warriors? A victorious enemy?
The spoils of war. To every battle, there is cleanup. Blood spilt on chosen ground. The fallen to gather and tag. The wounded to care for. And equipment, machinery, ammunition. Cleanup takes time and manpower.
At Gettysburg, how many lives were lost? How many at Antietam? How long did the cleanup take? It wasn't only physical. Healing must be done to the mind and the heart. A people being fought for and those who performed the fighting require time and prayer and much solace.
When the smoke clears, there will be celebration, but there will be salvation. There will be solace and soothing. Some will rage against the victory, small pockets of resistance, denying the truth. Do not expect everything to be smooth.
The EASY way lies full of deception. The NARROW way takes you over rocky mountain passes. In the PLAIN, amongst the grasses are wolves in sheep's clothing. But for those wearing MY ARMOR ... and do not take your armor off. There is no, "Oh, good, we are done with this," and a life of ease and laziness ... but for those with lives of FAITH, the enemy will be obvious. Keep on your battle glasses, your night VISION. Do not unwind and open your head to deception. A little slumber and folding of the hands and trouble will spring upon you. A defeated enemy is an angry one. Stay guarded. Stay standing.
Amongst the rocket's red glare with the bombs bursting in air, the flag remained, but afterward, there was smoke lingering and prisoners of war and army hospitals and sunken ships. Cleanup commenced.
After your Civil War, there was forgiveness and humility needed. A decree was made to lay down your arms and return to the fold, but men's hurt feelings remained. They'd been taught to divide. Now you wished them to embrace? There were slaves as freed men without money or job or homes and no concerted goodwill for them, no common agreement. There was much chaos in the states and much healing needed, with not enough done to heal and mend. Civil War created anger and prejudice. Civil War brought civil hate.
Those who preached victory wouldn't teach peace. Not enough was done to spread MY SPIRIT of LOVE across the land. The natural man knows only bitterness and division. Love of brotherhood is difficult to bind. Not enough was done to teach forgiveness. Few spoke out against division of minds.
"You can't make me love them. They are not like me."
Northern against Southern. Caucasian against African against new Americans made free. Not enough, little to no effort, to teach MY PERSPECTIVE.
My people freed from tyranny of their oppressors (WWII), trials even made to convict and condemn Nazism, while nations warred for dominance in it. Israel made a nation and only you, America, standing for her defense.
You can only deny the truth to your detriment. Nothing good ever comes from it. Ignorance of these things is not bliss. It is solely ignorance. Walk toward a canyon with your eyes sealed, and you will fall in it.
Pray about the healing. Pray for minds to come to the TRUTH. Do not do as your forefathers did and ignore the scars. Do not allow others to remain with open wounds. I would heal completely, but it takes effort. It takes work, and for this, MY CHURCH is gifted. For this, I have prepared her.
When the smoke clears, there is a new front to face. Not a festival. Not a fair day. Eat your cake of celebration but do not rub it in their face, or the hatred you create from it will rise to bite you later. Learn from your history and seek MY HEALING.
All who come to me, in whatever state I find them in, with whatever losses they have sustained, from whatever culture they were brought up in, all, WHOSOEVER, are loved by me. Love sees only unity. Love seeks to heal and to mend, not to change men's memories. A man born a Jew, having lost his entire family, did not cease to be a Jew, nor did he forget his happenings. A man taught as a soldier who envisioned much death and suffering does not forget his battles, cannot simply turn the page.
I write a new chapter. Only I hold the pen of healing. And it requires you, MY CHURCH, to seek my face continually.
Love is bold. Love is strong. Love stands for TRUTH. Love also seeks to shelter and offers forgiveness to the undeserving.
There is an aftermath to war. What will the next generation see? What you will leave them depends on how much you follow after me. For I gave my life for the losers as much as the victors. I took on myself their deliverance. Change the heart and you change the mind. Such change is mine to give. Such is MY MERCY. Where you would divide and divide again, where you exile and alienate, I seek to heal. Embrace. Do not push aside. Then watch my Spirit sweep the land. Watch the enemy become your greatest ally. Only I, Adonai, Creator of heaven and earth, can do this. Only MY WORD made flesh can turn the darkest darkness into the brightest, heavenly light.
It is not your power that saves. It is mine.
Image: L. Prang & Co. print of the painting "Hancock at Gettysburg" by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett's Charge. Restoration by Adam Cuerden. (Wikimedia Commons)
Suzanne D. Williams, Author