The space on this blog posting is not nearly sufficient to share of the battle that happened around me last week. But thankfully -- the battle - is not the important part. I will share what matters --- the God response. In obedience of this pursuit of transparency, as i reach for the Robes of Christ, -- i will be diligent to share how over and over again --- I FIND HIM FAITHFUL.
I believe fully in Heaven - the One true God - His many angels - with warrior angels among them. I likewise believe there is an enemy to our Father -- who was an angel - but fell because of pride and now leads legions of fallen angels in an attempt to destroy what is good and Godly in this world. Their kingdom is hell --- and they work to fill it up.
This past week --- really over a 9 day time span --- the warrior angels were battling in my stead against an army of evil --- that was set to "kill, steal, and destroy".
Apparently ---- some amazing things that happened in ministry made something or someone (unseen by human eyes) angry --- and so an attack was issued.
I fell under this attack. Not proud of that fact - but so thankful for my Father's response.
No worries - i didn't fall in ways we might think of -- no guns or drugs or illegal acts were involved in the falling.
Instead --- i fell under the silent, loud attack of the enemy -- and ended up a mess in my closet floor -- weeping --- and needing one thing --- God's Word.
Is it improper for me to speak so openly of it?
Does it make me "look bad" to admit --- i was a crying mess because i was wounded in battle?
Have you never fallen under an attack and needed help to get back up?
Some people fall in very visible ways ---- we can see their stumbling --- we can recognize they need help perhaps even before they themselves can see it. But sometimes the attack is stealthy -- and silent --- and so effective --- such that no one else even sees the arsenal that impacted you --- but you find you can't breathe and you're face down on the "battlefield".
This shouldn't scare us ----- or seem odd at all.
But it is a frightening experience --- because we realize that while there is no blood flowing from the impact of a sword or arrow --- we find that we are face down and struggling to get back up.
If you are a child of God --- if you are not "asleep" in your walk with God --- if you sense the struggle between good and bad - righteousness and evil - God and satan - and if you are "standing" under God --- then you fully know what i am speaking of --- you could likely write a page or two here yourself. Some people are oblivious to it all ---- they just get up, go through the motions of life, and die ---- unaware of the intense struggle surrounding them. They may be allowed to be blind to the battle (or they may choose to not see it) --- because they are posing no threat to the enemy. They just keep their head down, stay quiet, perhaps try and live a "good" life not hurting anyone but not standing up for anyone or anything either --- and so they are not even really on the battlefield --- they have chosen to "fall back" and hang close to the rear - or better yet - perhaps some choose to never even put on their armor. No battle is on their agenda. They say things like --- "That's God's business - i'll leave that to him." "I'm too frightened to even think about such things." "That's just asking for trouble.""i'd rather slide by under the radar, than bring any attention my way."
And some people live their whole lives ------ hiding.
The enemy of our Lord ----- is our enemy too ------ and if we are willing to receive all the great goodness our Lord blesses us with ---- shouldn't we be willing to don the armor He calls us to wear?
God could have chosen from the beginning of time ---- for good to simply prevail --- for evil to be defeated --- and never impact our lives.
But --- God - being God --- knew the best way to enable us to become wiser and stronger and more discerning and effective.
He wanted us to see both the good from Him and the bad from the enemy ----- and He wanted us to CHOOSE HIM.
Choosing God --- should also mean ---- we stand against the enemy of our God.
God --- through HIS WORD --- explains that we are in a battle --- this world is not our home --- and that through "standing" with Him, under Him, for Him, we will slowly be transformed and strengthened by Him. Our lives will become more and more Christ-like. Others will be affected by our strength (or our weakness).
Many people ---- will not speak of it --- this spiritual struggle going on in the heavenlies --- that is often felt in our world. But i --- i will. I've seen too many hurting, struggling, wounded people --- looking around and asking "why is this happening?" "why can't i just stop doing the thing i do not really want to do?" "why does life have to be so hard?", "why?"
Steve and i are feeling the blessings of our Heavenly Father as we make sincere, steady progress towards our move to Kenya. The ONLY reason we are going is because God made the "call" very, very clear to us. To not go would be disobedience --- to go --- is obedience.
But as we continue in obedience --- perhaps the enemy of our Lord sees the potential that God will begin moving "troops" into areas have been in his dark domain. Perhaps the Light is about to begin shining in areas that had previously been held securely in the darkness. This --- we believe fully --- is God's plan. As a result though ---- the darkness will not want to lose its territory.
And so ---- attempts are made to stop us, hurt us, wound us deeply, --- at the very least to slow us down ---- and there are no rules in this type battle.
There is however an overarching fact ---- the overall battle between good and evil ---------- God has already WON.
Christ's death and resurrection ---- secured forever the enemy's inability to block the love of our Father to His children and the Father's provision for a Heavenly sanctuary for His own. God wants ALL to come to Him ---- and so war is still waged. The enemy of our Lord wants no one to know the love and security of eternity in Heaven. After all --- he - lucifer - knows full well the riches that await God's children in Heaven --- since he lost them all.
He is angry --- he wants many to hurt with him ---- he wants most of all to hurt God --- by hurting those God loves.
And so ------ this is not the time to sleep.
There is a battle going on around us.
How do we take up our stance on the battlefield?
- We read, take in, live in, absorb, rest in, grow in ---- God's Word. We don't just read it because "the preacher says we should". We read God's Word because it is LIFE to our bones and BLOOD in our veins. We need it.
- We pray ---- daily --- continually --- without stopping --- we speak to our Father about everything - for everyone - we don't talk to ourselves - we talk to HIM.
- We open our eyes --- and really SEE -- those who are hurting around us (or on the other side of the world) ---- those who are wounded - those who are not being loved - those who are hungry and cold and scared and alone ---- we stop focusing on comforting those who are already comfortable -- (and those who are consumed with their own comforting) --- we turn our eyes towards those that know no comfort and need to feel God's love poured out on them. We are honored and able to pour out our Father's goodness on them --- and so we do.
- We die to ourselves and our concerns over ourselves --- because others matter more. God will care for us as we allow Him to flow through us to others that may not have ever felt His goodness in their lives. Those the enemy has been tormenting --- because the hands and feet of Christ have not arrived to them yet. We go to them -- in Christ.
- We put on the armor of God daily - daily - daily.
The belt of TRUTH (focusing on what is true from God - controlling our thought-life),
the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS (we are righteous ONLY because of Christ's sacrifice and gift to us),
with feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace (by living in God's Word we become fully prepared),
the shield of faith which will enable us to extinguish the flaming arrows shot at us by the enemy (even if it does take a few minutes for the arrows to fully extinguish),
the helmet of Salvation (given to us by Christ at Calvary -- when we believe),
and the Sword of the Spirit which is God's Word (filled with all we need to be fully equipped to defeat the enemy).
- We watch for our fellow warriors in Christ, on the field with us, and who have taken a hit --- and we encourage them - we help them, we help them get back up, we stand with them and never leave them on the field alone.
This past weekend --- Pete, our youngest, had his wisdom teeth removed. He was quiet and still and laying on the couch for 3 days. And so, to be near him, we opted to put life on pause and "hang out" with him in his recovering. Our mostly grown boys, Mike and Peter, chose to watch the decade old trilogy "The Lord of the Rings". Steve and i had never seen them fully - only parts.
I've never really liked the gory battles and ongoing struggle --- still can't say i do.
But this past weekend --- after my "face down on the battlefield experience" last week ---- God spoke to my heart over and over again as i listened and watched with "different" eyes and ears. Strangely enough --- i was being comforted and encouraged --- from God --- in the watching of this epic story.
Many, many quotes from the movie have nested in my thoughts --- and they line up with God's Word in amazing ways. Tolkien, the author and a brother in Christ, had a very clear message to communicate and he did so masterfully. He was certainly familiar with the "battlefield" the children of God are called to ---- what encouragement his skillful storytelling gives to us who feel the mud of the field under us.
In one scene - Sam is encouraging Frodo --- Frodo is exhausted from the struggle. Sam cares. Sam speaks beautiful words that fill Frodo's veins with strength. Here are their words:
: I can't do this, Sam.
: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
: What are we holding onto, Sam?
: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
And so ---- as i lay in the floor of my closet --- weathering a nasty attack ---- I realized --- I lay in the lap of my Lord and remembered ---
"I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13
But to do so --- i needed to get up --- and "stand".
Because of Christ - and God's great faithfulness --- we can.
****As i write this blog -- i also remember the 31 US soldiers who died in physical battle this past Saturday. May God comfort and care for their families and loved ones and may they each find a place of rest in Him. I believe fully --- these soldiers were standing for what is right and fighting against what is wrong. The evil they fought against in the physical realm is but a spill over of what is ever present in the spirit realm. They were brave soldiers --- who gave all --- for the uplifting of what is right and good. May they, and all who have given all, be fully honored. ****
"Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me." Psalm 86:17
"I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
Photos taken by Maggie and Steve in Kenya and Swaziland.