“Demons love darkness and hiddeness. Inner fears and struggles which remain isolated develop great power over us. But when we talk about them in a spirit of trust, then they can be looked at and dealt with. Once brought into the light of mutual love, demons lose their power and quickly leave us.” Henri Nouwen
In the time He has given me to Be Still, un-rushed,and un-distracted, here are the insights He has given me so far.
The enemy is real. We are in a constant spiritual warfare and bound to the ways of mankind. Our culture unknowingly keeps us distracted, ignorant of the peace within us, and naive to our calling. The battle is real. The enemy has defeated us in a way that we carry out his schemes all by ourselves. He uses our circumstances and our minds to control our lives.
When he leads, he shows up in unhealthy ways: stress, depression, obsession, anxiety, addiction. With him in our heads, we stay focused on the disadvantages in our life instead of the many blessings he has bestowed upon us and the promises that lie ahead of us. We tend to see the glass half empty all the time. This living is a way of spiritual bondage. We are incapable of problem solving, moving forward, and self maturing when we allow him in. We are like infants that don’t have the ability to grow because we stay comfortably tucked in our familiar covering instead of taking the first step to walk even if we fall down and scrape our knees. A baby doesn’t learn to walk without first falling — more than once.
If you have been robbed of purpose and joy, then you have allowed the enemy to steal your peace. You have to choose to TAKE back your life today. This takes wisdom, a humble dependency on God and obediance. You will need to be Still and create time and space to build your relationship with Him. You will need to understand your earthly cravings and replace them with God’s. You will need to be willing to leave the familiar to do the extraordinary.
You will have to set yourself apart.
The best thing to do right here and now is to surrender yourself to Him and believe that he can save you from the darkest places in your life. You must be on guard and you must be un-rushed.
If you accept, let’s stand firm together in this truth! If offense comes your way, respond with love. If promotion knocks at the door in the midst of your already busy days, respond with humility. If worry hinders you from moving forward, respond with trust.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is GREATER than the one who is in the world.” NIV 1 John 4:4
Let’s start with me . . . here are my weaknesses in the flesh:
- Bad temper
- Control issues
- No filter
- Being Critical
If I am truly going to die from the flesh, I need to get rid of the junk inside my soul that let’s the enemy have His way with me. This is why it’s necessary to Be Still and remove the distractions for some time before you move forward. Let something go, one day at a time and with help.
You are never too good for a therapist.
The first time I met with her I was anxious and jittery. I told myself for so long there was nothing wrong with me. When people hear my testimony they right away assume I have depression. Quite the opposite. God gave me a sustained spirit of confidence, but the depression was replaced with a hard heart. Anger fills up the lonely gap. I have a “tough love” and “get over it” mentality. I’m gentle and compassionate with others but I’m tough on myself and my family. I expect them to be a warrior.
Through therapy, I discovered that I have lies in my head that whisper “I’m not good enough”, even though on the outside I appear to be fully capable.
When good things happen to me, I tend to shy away from it, thinking I am undeserving, or it’s too good to be true, or who am to receive this. Where I once thought it was a place of humility, I found that it was a place of guilt. I have fear that the peace and joy I am experiencing could be lost at any time. I feel guilty for even having peace. Like I don’t deserve it.
Do you ever feel like this and justify it with humility?
I know I am not supposed to feel this way but that’s what happens when we have been in bondage for so long and we are out of our comfort zone. We don’t know how to handle when we are given rest and peace.
This must be how the Israelites felt after 40 years of wandering in Exodus. They were physically free from slavery, yet when they were at the gates of the promised land, they doubted the promise. Wandering for 40 years must have been somewhat of comfort to them because they were enslaved for so long. It’s like a prisoner who has been locked up for so long, he becomes institutionalized. So he sabotages himself on purpose to get back to the familiar.
Our soul doesn’t know peace or rest.
Are we a world who expects the worse in order to survive? That’s a dangerous place to be considering our minds have the power to heal. In the same spirit it has the power to make us sick. Our minds are the enemy’s playground. If our minds expect the worse, then the worse shall come. If our minds are captivated well then so will our souls.
Last week when I acted out in wrath, I allowed the enemy to take ahold of this vulnerable opportunity and put all of these lies in my head. “You are not good enough, no one is going to listen to what you have to say, you are broke now and you thought He was going to take care of you, your husband is not dependable and you physically cannot handle all of the burden. When those lies were whispering in my ear, I suddenly envisioned what Jesus must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. And I realized for that moment, what I was experiencing was the burden and the pain Jesus felt when He took up the cross for us – yet I only felt a sliver of it. I could not fathom what Jesus actually felt when he went through what he did for our burden.
- I felt pain in my head physically because my flesh was weak. Jesus felt pain when he was beaten, speared, and nailed to the cross
- I felt everyone else’s burden on my shoulders because as a mom, a wife and a friend, I am carrying and processing all of their burden. Jesus carried the weight of the world’s sins so that we may live in grace.
- I was being attacked at a moment when I was responding to what God wanted for me and I was being told lies to turn me against my mission and the people I love. Jesus struggled in the Garden of Gesthamane when he said “my soul is overwhelmed to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me … the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” NIV Matthew 26:38, 40
And then I began piecing my day together more. There were moments during the day where God spoke to me through others. A brother from our church on the table last night prayed for the woman next to her and said “it’s not supposed to be easy when we follow Jesus”. And I’m reminded of Matthew 16:24-25, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Do we truly believe that whoever loses his life for His sake will find it?
Then why is it we live our lives by satisfying the desires of our heart. When we get up to go to work every day, is it for Jesus? Is it to serve your mission in Christ? Or is it to serve your mission in this world? Or is it to have that nice house, that nice car and send your kids to that nice school? I’m going to keep it real. We walk as hypocrites. We talk a really good talk but we have yet to be bold and take that necessary risk and burden to follow Him. Thus, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Our Pastor said to us a few weeks ago that our mission as a Group Leader is to be “Gospel Centered, Spirit Empowered and Missionally Minded”. There was some confusion around Missionally minded and he reminded us that being a Leader in these small groups is not about us. That along the way we establish long lasting relationships with people and they may even become our best friends, but that is not the mission. The mission is to reconcile people to Christ — to share the good news with others and teach people what it’s like to live a spirit filled life following Him.
The mission is Him!
I am not supposed to worry about what other people will think or how many people will follow me. I am simply supposed to obey and know that “He is God”. Not worry about tomorrow. I wonder what life would be like if our fellow Christians in the world did not worry about tomorrow.
How would your life be different if you didn’t worry about tomorrow?
“Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.” NIV Numbers 10:10.
This is the same Moses who said to God “Who am I that should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” NIV Exodus 3:11. We are simply supposed to obey and follow and allow him to take care of the rest. We like to listen, every Sunday, every Bible Study, but the flesh is too weak to take action.
So today I ask God for strength and a spirit of focus. To pick me up when my flesh is weak and to help me learn to take great joy in the challenges (James 1:2-4)
This road is not supposed to be easy, but it’s supposed to be worth it!
Do you want to live for nothing, or struggle for something?