Being Contentious

Even to the death fight for the truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you. Sirach 4:28

People don’t get me….a lot. It’s not easy to march to a different drummer. More often than not, someone like me, has tried really hard to fit in. But no matter how hard we try we don’t, we can’t, that other drummer just won’t let us. It is a voice that tells us that we are not being true and a sense of integrity will not let us pretend. Sometimes we think we have found a place, a place were we are the same and then something happens and we find out that we are being called to be different there as well.

Different drummer marchers are often warriors. Along with that drum we hear trumpets, bugles and shofars. We hear reveilles and calls to arms. We fight with all our might and we fight for what we think is right. Often you think we are fighting for one thing, to be right, to win, to be in charge or control, but we are not. We are usually fighting for an underdog or a principle or for you. We will often fight you for you, risking your affection to fight for better for you. If the cause is right we will fight even knowing that we will lose because some things are worth fighting for no matter the outcome. A lost cause is often the battle we are least likely to walk away from. We understand strategy and tactic but we fight mostly with heart and for hearts. We have little interest in intellectual arguments for their own sake and we rarely site sources. Heart arguments just don’t work that way. We are often seen as contentious, the boat rocker. We really wish we could be the easy going ones. We even try sometimes but then we hear that bugle and we answer that call. We turn around, square off and take our stand.

People don’t get me but there is one who does. The one who made me, who beats that drum and sounds those bugles. The one who understands when I was trying to do right even when it turns out all wrong. The Hebrews had many names describing God. One is El-Roi, the God of Vision, the God who sees, the God who sees me and even lets me see him. Another is Yahweh-yireh the God who sees to it, the God who sees and provides. The God who sees me, the God who knows me, the God who made me. The God who sees what I need, what I will ever need and sees to it.

When God provides for our immediate needs we recognize that right away. When he is providing for a future need of our own, or another through us, by preparing us, we rarely recognize it and often do not understand it. It comes sometimes through trial, suffering or a battle of some kind. We usually attempt to pray it away, limited by our own agenda or idea of what would be best. Desperate for immediate solutions that in our minds are the victory but may in fact be empty and imperfect. The purposes that God fulfills in any of our circumstances are as eternal as He is, they have as many facets to them as He does. They dovetail with the purposes of others with mind bending accuracy. To contemplate them all is impossible to do and just when you think you have come to answers and conclusions about them the Lord shows you just how limited you are in your vision by highlighting a new and glorious aspect. One purpose, of the many that God intends, is that we are being sent ahead. Put into place ahead of time for the sake of another or prepared ahead of time for a purpose of our own life. We are sent ahead into a furnace of suffering or trial so that we could come out the other side unscathed, if we trust and rely on God. We can then witness to and encourage others. Put into place right now even for those who I do not know who may be reading this blog.

I remember one time feeling particularly assaulted. I felt assaulted by satan coming against me and by evil. I felt assaulted by trials, sufferings and battles. I even felt assaulted by my own reactions of anger sometimes. I prayed that the Lord deliver me from all of that. I felt his answer to me was that he could remove these things but I would then be subject to them all of my life. Rather than overcoming them I would remain at their mercy, helpless against them. Instead he wanted to teach me to be strong. He gave me this picture of myself being knocked on my behind, in the dust over and over. Each time the Lord would pick me up, brush me off and face me at it again. After awhile, I relied on him more and instead of being knocked down, I was only pushed back. Finally I could take the hit and stand firm. I became able to contend for myself, my family and for others. I became contentious.

When you look up the word contentious you will see that it comes from the words contention and contend. The definition of contend is to fight or argue, to compete, to assert. The definition of contention is strife, dispute or a point argued for. But get out your Thesaurus and look up contention and you will see something else. Contend, contention, contentious... to explain or take a stand. STAND, to be upright, to take a position, to ENDURE, to withstand, to undergo, to declare and proclaim, to last, to uphold, to abide, to SUBMIT, to put up with, bear with, to withstand, to persist, to remain, to last, to prevail, to SUSTAIN, to survive, to outlast, suffer, tolerate.

Some people see me as feisty, some as contentious. Some see me as brave, others as intimidating. Some see me as tenacious and steadfast, others as stubborn. Some see me as steady and strong and others see it as inflexible. I prayed about this a lot. Am I too tough, Lord, am I too hard to get along with? His answer to me was this: "Vickie, I made you exactly the way you are and the way I wanted you to be. That fire in your eye? I am the one who put it there. That unwillingness to let go, to hang on no matter what, I gave that to you. There is a good side and a bad side to every personality trait like the two sides of a coin. It is not that I want you to change your personality. I want you to
give it to me. Let me use your personality just as it is. All I have to do is flip the coin and bring the right side up." All these qualities that are being criticized about us or that we can criticize about ourselves, are probably the very qualities that help us take our stands. We can’t have resolve, strength, or fortitude without a few gosh darn contentious qualities. God knew what he would be giving us to do and what we would be facing. He gave us each exactly the qualities we would need and he could use. Have you ever seen a coin flip itself? Nor can we flip ourselves. We often don’t need to change our personalities but rather just give it to God and he will use it rightly. On the wrong side of the coin a contentious person is unreasonably argumentative and causes unnecessary strife. On the right side of the coin we have fortitude, are longsuffering and patient, tolerant, courageous and persevering. We have restraint and stamina. We submit and sustain. Am I contentious, do I follow the beat of a different drum, do I answer the call to arms? You betcha, and may God use it well, because he is the one in charge of flipping the coin. Through suffering and trial, through experience and circumstance, through previous battles won and lost, I have been prepared ahead of time. I have been put into place to contend for the truth, for my faith, and for others. We can’t be afraid of being contentious.





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