Sometimes it ain’t easy to follow Jesus. I grew up in a family that followed Jesus as a lifestyle. I remember being dragged to church 4-5 days a week. We had Sunday morning & Sunday night services (unimaginable,yes I know), Tuesday night prayer meetings and the Wednesday night mid-week service. And let’s not forget that my parents sang in a gospel band so we were dragged to additional services on the weekend. So it’s safe to say I literally grew up in church. I don’t regret any of it either. I’m glad my parents raised me that way.
Being engrossed in church all of my life enabled me to see the trends that roll through that blessed assembly of the saints. I remember a time when I heard about the devil like every service somewhere. I heard how everything was his fault and how we needed to fight Him every day! If you lost your parking spot at the store it’s because he did it! If you tripped and fell, which is something I do on a regular basis, he arranged it. When you came down with the sniffles it’s because he sent it. Or paper cuts were from the pit of hell. We lived like victims to him because we never knew what trick he had up his sleeve or when we might trip and fall again. We were at his mercy. I’m not saying he doesn’t orchestrate things but it seemed that whole philosophy got extreme for a few years until everyone got tired of it and then a new idea emerged.
This new idea adamantly opposed this “the devil is after me” ideology. The focus shifted to us being the focal point; meaning we bring much of our problems and struggles on ourselves therefore the devil doesn’t really have to do much to help that process. Which partially that is true. We do bring much hardship on ourselves by our propensity to sin and bad choices. This rationale also argues that we live in a fallen world so bad stuff happens to everyone. True, I agree with that. But I don’t agree with the complete dismissal of satan in our lives. The bible very clearly says that satan roams about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to destroy.
So which is it? The devil is plotting our demise every single day and strategizing ways to make our lives miserable OR is it just the result of a fallen world and our own bad choices?? Actually, I think it’s a little bit of both most of the time. But sometimes I think there are outright attacks on us from our enemy. Especially when other people’s souls are on the line. When we step up into the battle for expanding God’s kingdom on earth, we can bet on personal attacks.
Let me explain that by telling you what happened to me last week.
I recently got involved with a nationally accredited women’s ministry that is starting up in our area. I felt led to help start this movement and co-lead the efforts. The planning team and I decided to have the launch party at my house. I knew this could potentially be stressful for me but I felt like I needed to do it. My husband and I had to make preparations for the event that involved bringing our back yard to life, restaining our cedar patio and cleaning the heck out of everything. Of course I knew my house needed a thorough cleaning as well right before the event, and I’m not one of those people that has a hospital-like sterile environment every day. So anyway, I found someone to clean my house. But at the last minute she had to cancel due to sickness. That started the downward spiral. Actually it started earlier in the week when I thought I would die with this horrible gut-wrenching pain that would not go away. I had scheduled a procedure for the following week but had to move it up because of my pain level. Of course, wouldn’t you know that the only day they could do the procedure was the afternoon before the event. So I reluctantly agreed to the appointment. It felt like someone stabbed me in the gut over and over and over for like 5 days. It lasted right up until the event. Honestly I never have that kind of pain. I could tell this was an attack for sure.
Things got worse. About half an hour before our meeting, tornadoes touched down in our area, one only about 2 miles from us and quickly ripped it’s way down the major highway close to my house, headed directly towards us. Most of the people I invited ended up canceling or not showing because of the crazy weather but we still ended up with a handful of a few brave souls that refused to let a tornado stop them. So the enemy’s plan to take me out, all of us out did not work.
To be honest, if you are living in a little Christian bubble with other little Christian bubble dwellers you might not deal with situations like the one I just described. As I look back over my life, I distinctly remember only dealing with these vicious attacks when I partnered with God to step out into the darkness and shine for Him. It was only when I attempted to cross that sacred line between saying I’m a Christian and actually getting out and acting like one that I got hit hard. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be….we aren’t supposed to ride off into the sunset with Jesus and leave the rest of the world behind to figure it out on their own. Living in a Christian bubble is pathetic and sad. We were made for so much more. Yes it can feel dangerous sometimes when things happen but we have a Father holding us in His hands. Nothing can touch us without going through Him first.
Just a parting thought here…..we can usually outlast the enemy by standing consistently and persistently. We have to stand and keep standing and when we want to give up stand some more. By doing that we intimidate him and he eventually backs down. He can’t do anything with a Christian that keeps standing even when their life is falling apart it seems.
“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.”
Ephesians 6:13 NIV