I heard a story about a couple of cowboys checking their open range when they came across a herd of wild horses. As they paused and watched them from a distance, they saw the band stallion suddenly become on high alert, watching the foothills nearby, ears pricked and body pointed like a well-muscled arrow. The band stallion was a big, mature horse, having weathered years of challenges, weather, and changes to his band. The cowboys watched the foothills until they could also see a young bachelor stallion approaching. Challenging. He moved strongly and quickly, with purpose, approaching the band. The band stallion moved out to meet him.
The first cowboy didn’t take his eyes off the action unfolding as the horse took his first steps of trot to the challenger, but said, “That stallion is going to lose his herd.” The second cowboy said nothing, but watched the action unfold. The stallions first quietly approached each other, smelling, circling, necks arched and prancing. It quickly escalated into lunges, kicks, rears, and bites. Each horse was coiled with wild power as they circled, lunged, made contact with teeth and sharp hooves. The challenger was much younger, but didn’t have the years of experience the band stallion had, or the determination to protect what was his. However, after several minutes of the wild energy, and without any obvious devastating injury or clear victory, the band stallion backed off. He surrendered his herd to the young challenger. All he could do was watch as the challenger approached the mares and foals, snaking his head and moving them off. The mares reluctantly followed.
The second cowboy finally asked, “How did you know he was going to lose? By all accounts he was the better horse.”
The men moved their horses off, following their cattle trails. “That challenger made him move,” he answered. He didn’t stand his ground, make the challenger move off his course, make the challenger come to him.
He simply didn’t stand his ground.
I’ve seen that in the herd at the ranch. While the herd doesn’t have any stallions running loose, some of the geldings act more like studs than others. Every once in a while, especially in the spring, they like to rouse up whoever will play along, prance around, chase mares, and challenge each other loudly. Once I watched one of these boys challenge Sterling, the big gray who generally is very self-assured and keeps to himself. The other horse snorted, half-bucked, and pranced in circles.
Sterling just stood there, head slightly tucked and neck subtly arched but a picture of calm. He didn’t even flinch or flick an ear away as the other horse squealed and nipped towards his shoulders. I had to laugh at the effort the other horse began to get into to get a reaction out of Sterling. He stomped, he shook his head and reared, feet pounding to the ground just inches from Sterling, loudly neighing snorting to punctuate his more aggressive moves. After several minutes, Sterling must have given some almost imperceptible signal to the other gelding and the whole thing was over. Sterling casually walked to sample another hay bale, a picture of calm and peace, but full of the simple, undefeatable power of standing his ground.
Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. Ephesians 6:13, AMP
Stand firm, in your place, immovable and victorious.
In the face of fear, the challenge of the devil, the uncertainty and darkness, simply hold your ground.
In this passage, Paul reminds us that we don’t battle what is seen, that these are spiritual battles where we need God’s armor. In those times of danger and days of evil – which are many and frequent and relentless – we can’t fight the situation, the people involved, all the things we could use our own experience and wit and strength for.
The devil prowls around like a lion, as a challenger to your ministry, as a situation ready to tear down all you’ve worked for, as a threat to the vital work God is doing in you and through you. You are a target, your ministry stands out to evil like a light that must put out. You are building the city on the hill the devil can hardly wait to tear down, for all to see.
Hold. Your. Ground.
While physically you may move, you may shift something, you may change plans or techniques, your job may change, your life may change, all that is eternal and unending within you must remain still. Calm. Focused and rooted in the hope of Christ. Full of a wild, coiled, resurrecting power.
Your heart, your hope, your strength will not move. The things God whispers to you in the night will not change. The passion he has lit in your heart will not change. While the world around you may fall apart, the hopes you had for your ministry or family or future may change, but you must remain standing on the rock that won’t ever move, that will never change.
Remain in me, Christ urges us. Don’t move from my presence.
Be unshaken by fear, by the plans of the devil, by the loud, distracting challenges. Resist the urge to fight back in your own power, to go on the offensive against people God has called you to deeply love, do not take steps out of bitterness or unforgiveness. Tell your anxious heart to be still, tell all that within you that wants to do something to settle in for waiting. Simply stand firm, clothed in the power of a risen Christ.
Put on the full armor of God [for his precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed solider], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 AMP