Written by Dayna Azevedo
Have you ever had a ‘word’ that has been on your heart? Maybe a phrase that seems to just be the theme-song to your life? Maybe even just a ‘word’ that has always touched you?
For the past (almost) 5 years that I’ve been saved, God and I have always had this fun, little, tradition that we do every year. It started out the first year I was saved when I got invited to a party on New Years Eve. I had just given my life to Jesus, and was in the process of transitioning out of a really bad lifestyle. For the past years, I had spent almost every New Years getting wasted at parties with my friends. But now that I had chosen to leave my old ways behind, and live a good life for Him, I didn’t want to start a new year living in my old habits.
With the invite to the party dancing in front of me, and the remembrance of my salvation in my heart, I decided to pray. I remember kneeling on my living room floor and asking God for help. I knew that missing the party meant I’d have no plans for the night, and I would be alone. Then God reminded me of a similar situation that a mentor in the church had told me that she had gone through. She had just rededicated her life to Jesus, when her old friends invited her to a party on NYE. She too didn’t want to spend another year wasting the night away, so instead of going, she decided to stay home and use the night to “pray – in” the new year.
I knew this was my answer, so I declined the invite and took out my Bible and notebook. I began to write down my goals and dreams for the upcoming year – when God brought me to a verse about the topic of expectation. I clearly remember His words that night to me as if it were yesterday. He spoke to me declaring that that upcoming year was deemed to be the year of “Expectation”, and to be expectant of His plan upon my life. That year I remember God totally turning my life upside down, and I left a internship with a major production company in LA, to pursue an internship in ministry at my church. I remember that word ‘expectation’ following me around throughout that entire year – teaching me that no matter what the situation – to be expectant of God’s plan for my life.
As that year came to a close, and another new year approached, I decided to continue the tradition of ‘praying-in’ the new year. From that year on, I’ve kept this little tradition of mine, and I have to say – this year of 2018 has absolutely been my favorite so far.
As I prayed-in this new year of 2018, God brought me to an amazing verse in Corinthians. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, and is dealing with some hardships that have been going on in the church. But though the hardships Paul writes, “thank God that He leads us in triumphal procession.” After reading that, the words triumphal procession stood out to me immensely. I remember reading this verse before, but never had I truely dwelled on those two powerful words. So, of course, I did decided to do some digging.
The word triumphal means “a carried out celebration of a great victory or achievement.”
And the word procession means “the action of moving forward as part of a ceremony.”
So, together, these two words simply mean, walking in victory.
As I read these two definitions in relation to Paul’s response to the churches hardships, I thought wow – Though our current hardships, trials, and situations, thanks be to God that He leads us in victory.
Isn’t it a relieving thought to know that God leads us in victory? That no matter what looms before us, we know that God will lead us through it victoriously?
For me praying-in the new year, I realized these two words meant that this year I might be facing a lot of hard circumstances. But it gives me great hope fully knowing that I will come out of those circumstances victoriously.
Even though these words have been deemed the theme for my year, that doesn’t mean that these words are only for me. The Bible obviously wasn’t written for little old Dayna, but it was written for all of us. I believe these two words are not only meant to be declared over my life, but yours too.
The Bible has so much wisdom consumed in its verses. But one of the ways the Bible uses to explain this wisdom, is through stories and events. Though these two words explain a powerful statement of walking in victory, I knew there had to be a story used to explain the meaning a little further. So that’s when I came across the event of Jesus’s entry into the city of Jerusalem, right before His crucifixion – thoroughly titled “The Triumphal Entry”.
In Mark chapter 11, it talks about Jesus’s entry into the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus and the disciples approached the gates of the city, Jesus says “ Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a donkey, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it, and bring it here.” The disciples went out, got the donkey, and returned it back to Jesus. From there, Jesus entered into the city on the donkey, while people proclaimed “Hosana” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Now if we back up a couple paragraphs before this story in Mark, Jesus took some time to tell the disciples about how He will be arrested in Jerusalem, and about His upcoming death on the cross. Though the disciples didn’t fully understand what He was saying to them, Jesus fully knew the hardships that He was going to face after He entered into the city of Jerusalem.
Which means, Jesus was literally riding straight into His future hardships. He knew perfectly well that He would soon be arrested and hung on the cross after He road through those gates. Now, if that were me, and I knew what was awaiting me – I would have turned around and ran in the opposite direction!
But here’s the difference –
Though Jesus was aware of the hardships before Him, He also was aware that God had already won the victory over those hardships.
Though Jesus knew He was going to be persecuted, He also knew that God had the power to raise Him from the dead 3 days later.
I think it’s the moment we become aware of our hardships, that we immediately begin the run in the opposite direction. We see them coming, and we panic, because we either don’t want to face them – or we don’t know how to fight them. But the good news is, we don’t have to face them OR fight them alone.
God reminds us in Psalm 46:10 “Be still – and know that I am God”. God doesn’t ask us to fight our own battles, instead He actually asks us to be still and let Him fight them for us. He doesn’t tell us to run away from our hardships, but He reminds us that He is perfectly able to take care of them.
Just like Jesus, no matter how aware we are of our battles, we must remember to be more aware of the victory God has already won.
No matter what we may know about the battle, we must remember to know more of the power that God has to win.
Now before we go any further, I wanted to point out a couple important things about this event.
Don’t you think it was interesting that Jesus rode through the gates on a donkey?
My first thought was, “why didn’t He just walk in?”
“Why proceed through the gates on an animal?”
Over the years of reading the Bible, I’ve noticed that Jesus is intentional. Everything that Jesus would do or say, had a special meaning and a purpose. Everything He did, had a reason. So, I knew that there had to be a reason as to why Jesus rode through the gates on a donkey.
Back in those days, when a general came back from battle victorious, he would ride into the gates of the city on an animal in what was called “The Triumphal Procession.” The general would proceed into the city, in victory, over the enemies he had just defeated.
If we recall, Jesus was fully aware of the battle He was about to face. But He was also aware of the victory that He had already won.
So instead of just walking into the gates of the city, Jesus chose to be intentional, and to proceed in a triumphal procession, just like a victorious general. He chose to put His faith into action, and declare His victory.
To Jesus, it was not just being aware and knowing that He was going to take the victory, but it was about taking action and showing that He was going to take victory.
And that’s exactly what the Bible teaches us.
It says in 1 Corinthians it says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.”
Yes, it’s good to be aware of your victory, but it means even more to walk it out.
Its putting your belief into action, that makes it a step of faith.
Taking that kind of step of faith, means putting your full trust in God’s hands – which is exactly what He wants you to do.
God wants us to walk in victory, but He can’t lead us in victory if we don’t follow.
Jesus had the free will to decide to stop at the gates and not go in. He could have chosen to take a different route, or even turn around.
We also have the free will to stop at the gates of our hardships and not go in. We also can choose to take a different route.
But Jesus was aware of the purpose of God’s plan for His life – to die for our sins.
Even though the trials were great before Jesus, He knew His purpose was greater, and so was His God. So, He chose to follow God and proceed to walk in victory.
We need to be aware of the purpose of God’s plan for our lives just like Jesus – and hold on to that as a reminder of hope. We have to remember that our God is bigger than our trials – He is greater than our hardships.
So how can we take what we believe and put it into action? Well, we can take Jesus’s example and proceed throughout our lives in triumphal procession.
No matter how scary the future looks, be aware that God has already gone before you and won the battle. That no matter how impossible your situation seems, know that God is God of the impossible. And that no matter how rocky the road looks, choose to proceed in victory and put your faith into action!
Because “Thanks be to God – that He leads us in triumphal procession.”
I believe those words are not just for me and my year, but for you and your year too.
God has a mighty plan for us, and He wants us to succeed. He wants us to live out our callings. He wants us to live and breathe our purposes. He wants us to not walk in timidness and fear – but to walk in faith and in victory!
Dayna Azevedo is the Film Coordinator at Allison Park Church. She moved to Pennsylvania from California, and she loves to be as creative as possible, on all occasions! She enjoys anything outdoors, reading, watching good shows, and being in good company with family and friends!