This past week the Lord has granted me multiple “opportunities” to contemplate, reevaluate–and in some instances, briefly doubt, many aspects of my life; my call, my focus, and/or my ministry. Some would call these “opportunities” multiple attacks by Satan to discourage or even derail all that I do OR they might remark that I am “under a spiritual attack from Satan”. While I have been sorely tempted to agree with the latter this week, I am not willing to succumb to that thinking altogether. Either way my response should be the same. “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zec. 4:6). It was by scripture that our Lord answered every temptation Satan flung at Him, why would it be any different for us?
I am not sure why or how, but for some reason God will not allow me to remain discouraged for very long. He has always been this way with me. Honestly, I cannot remember a time of great discouragement that lasted longer than a few hours. However, this past week, those few hours have occurred on consecutive days because of the multiple incidents of “opportunities” that God allowed to come my way.
It is interesting what thoughts fly through our minds, unhindered, when in the throws of discouraging or disappointing situations. Self-preservation or vindication often becomes the obsessive thought pattern; with self-pity following close behind. Doubt runs a close 2nd or 3rd and only God knows what else, since He knows my thoughts before I think them (Ps. 139:2).
Our Lord knew we would have struggles with our thoughts; “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
I cannot tell you how many times those thoughts have come this week and almost just as quickly His Spirit would follow with verses and/or thoughts convicting…I have NOTHING to complain about. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). NOTHING in light of what my Savior endured for me on the cross–yes, He endured intense physical pain, suffering and complete humiliation, but also utter separation from His personal God-holiness and His Father all because of MY sin. And…NOTHING compared to countless thousands of others in this world who are suffering beyond anything my mind can comprehend; preventable hunger and illness, drought, torture, sexual abuse, and the list goes on and on.
I am not claiming, instantaneously when His Spirit reminds me of these truths that, I am suddenly released by discouragments’ talons, but the foundation that has unexpectedly eroded beneath me–like a flash flood erodes the banks of a river–begins to be rebuilt. It is His call, His plan, His time, His way…and He will do it! “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).
As that foundation began to be rebuilt by the living Word of God–written, spoken, and my Jesus Himself–resolve to press forward through the mess of misunderstandings and miscommunications and false assumptions burst forth. A clearer perspective is emerging from the toxic cloud of doubt cast by Satan amidst the erosion of my faith foundation. Erosion-control – His Word planted in the fertile soil of my soul and rooted by His Holy Spirit.
When the true Enemy is identified, the battle strategy becomes crystal clear. “So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you. Come near to God, and God will come near to you (James 4:7-8).
Interestingly enough, all of these “opportunities” have been clothed by “others” (my Monday blog post topic this week). My guard should have been heightened. They have come from my local church family and close ministry-friends. All are relational. I refuse to believe that any of them are my Enemy. Of course they are not, since, “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world” (Eph. 6:12).
God is ALL about relationships. Relationships are not easy. Relationships can be down right brutal. But God designed relationships–horizontal and vertical–for His purposes. The bridging of our relationship to God was certainly not without great effort. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-19).
Ones perspective on “who” the Enemy truly is provides the ability to more quickly recover from those feelings of injustice and not allow walls to be built between me and “others.”
I began the new Beth Moore study of James, Thursday a week ago. The first chapter is so applicable to my week of “opportunities”. I challenge you to read this chapter in light of the title of this blog post and decide for yourself which it is…”God-opportunities or Satan-attacks?”