What It Means to Stay Back

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Old Bridge to new places

Old Bridge to new places

“We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” (1 Samuel 30:24)

When David’s warriors won the battle and didn’t want to share the plunder with the 200 who had stayed back, this was David’s retort. He then made it a decree from that point on that the plunder of war (and essentially the credit for victory) would always be shared by those who went and those who stayed. And he doesn’t refer to the “stayers” as those who were too tired, too young, too old, at home with the children… (you get my idea). No, whatever the reason they stayed, he recognized that they had an important role. “Those who guard the equipment.”

Last week I came across this page and it stopped me. I was three weeks (into 4 ½ weeks) into being separated from my husband, nine months pregnant and with a needy and slowly-adjusting toddler on my hands. Tyler had stayed in the Himalayan foothills studying language, hiking many miles into hard-to-reach places, and fighting in an enormous ongoing spiritual battle. I had returned west to stay with my family to prepare for the birth of our second baby. The trouble is that my parents—who I’m very close to and thankful to be with—travel at least half the time. The other trouble is that I’m highly emotional and sensitive (and tired) thanks to a host of pregnancy hormones, being large and overstretched (literally). And finally, the last trouble is that I am very bad at “staying” when someone else is “going”.

Those who guard the equipment. My husband is fighting. There is so much good spreading and fruit being born by him and those he fights with. But this passage says that I am doing something, and that my role matters too.

I already knew that I had been trusted with the task of caring for my son, of preparing myself for childbirth, of getting through each day with both of us fed and slept and at peace (to as reasonable an extent as possible). I knew I had to press through physically to pick up toys, strollers, and a heavy toddler when he needs me… and I was collapsing into bed at 8 each night so thankful to survive the day.

But because my obvious responsibilities are so physical and so basic—feed, bathe, clothe, manage grocery stores and errands—I didn’t realize that God still has important work He wants to use me for “in the battle”.

Taking care of my soul

Taking care of my soul

What does it mean for you to “guard the equipment” when you can’t go?

It means keeping my heart in the right place, ready and available to intercede when I don’t have daily updates and I don’t know how to pray.

It means taking care of my soul and my spirit.

It means showing my two-year-old son that there’s more that matters in the world than snacks and toys, and that our hearts are also committed to what Daddy’s doing today.

There are so many who have never encountered the God of Hope. Never ever even heard His name.

Father God, let my days center around this reality no matter where I am, no matter what my hands are doing. No matter what my “day job”, my divine calling is to fight for everyone to encounter You—Your truth, hope and healing that marked my life.

My divine calling is what defines my identity. Not my job, my role, or my season in life.

I need to learn this. To know it. To live it for the rest of my life.

I can hear Sunday afternoon mowers humming, the local news in Gramma’s room, the chirp-chirp of birds outside on this spring day. I thank God for opportunities (transition, separation, motherhood) that push me to remember my real identity again.

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