The following article was written by Renee Dugan, a full time staff member of Spirit & Truth Fellowship Int’l.

too long ago, I hit a stagnant place in my spiritual walk. It happens, like with just about anything else—even the things in life we’re the fondest of. We plateau; we lose focus, get distracted by other things. What made these spiritual doldrums different for me, however, was that this time it was more of a “conscious separation” than a careless wandering.

It came on the heels of a particularly rough beginning to the year for me, where my manageable anxiety struggles exploded into full-on, crippling panic episodes that left me feeling like I was going to die. Amidst a storm of emotions that to this day I still can’t completely articulate, the most prominent was a reoccurring certainty that my walk with God was going to end in the death and devastation of everything I cared about. Like a modern-day Job, I thought, my walk with Christ was going to cost it all—my family’s lives, my friendships, my pets, even the breath in my lungs.

So my battered brain’s solution was to take the easy way out. I figured if I backed off on the spiritual battle I’d been fighting so hard to wage, I’d somehow prolong everyone’s lives and prevent bad things from happening. Take the target off myself and my family, so to speak. I know this position isn’t unique to me—I’ve heard it espoused by many before, and I was defeated enough to try it. Feeling completely worn-down from a rough year fighting my own head, I figured I deserved a break, far away from the “front lines.”

But after several months where I lived the definition of lukewarm—straddling the line between responsible and rote, doing the bare minimum to eke by on faith while still trying to distance myself from the front lines of a battle I no longer felt equipped to fight—God brought to my attention the fact that I wasn’t actually reducing the target on myself by shrinking back from spiritual warfare. Christians serve no one when we let fear, folly, addiction, pride, or any kind of sin decrease our effectiveness in the spiritual battle and in winning hearts for Christ. We don’t protect ourselves by living lukewarm faith, trying to shuffle along through the shadows unnoticed by the Enemy.

We’re called to fight, not to cower; and like ships on a sea roiling in the battle between good and evil, we’re part of a much larger fleet. We’re called to hold our ground, defend our vessel, and protect the ships around us. Our lives, sanctified, sworn to Christ, serve such an unbelievably high purpose, and we are a threat to the enemy ships breaking through the dark waters just as they are a threat to us. To withhold ourselves out of fear is a disservice to the flag we fight beneath.

To live is Christ. To die, even to die fighting, is gain.

Man the cannons. Hoist high the flag. And sail on. No matter what chaos and strife the battle brings our way, it’s a far better Life ahead than what lies behind.