I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post. Thankfully, it turned out that my imagination was the enemy that day. But not all my enemies have been imaginary, and a few of them have been terrifying.
My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” (Psalm 55:4-8)
There have been times when I’ve found myself standing toe-to-toe against an enemy that (seemingly) had every advantage over me. I am reminded of a small apartment, and a summer afternoon about 20 years ago. I had a restraining order against him, and yet there he was – on the doorstep, trying to kick-in the door while screaming horrific things. I had dared to stand up against him, and he was livid … and I was near paralyzed with fear!
TERROR: a very strong feeling of fear
TYRANNY: cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others
OPPRESSION: unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
I yelled back that I was calling the police. Whether I did, or didn’t, I can’t recall. I do remember sinking to the floor and curling up into ball, wishing I could somehow just disappear. But instead of disappearing, from somewhere deep within spoke a stronger voice (the voice of Himself, my Lord and my God), telling me to GET UP! To STAND UP!
This is a challenging post to write, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. Sure, when I pause to reflect on darker days, I’m somewhat saddened by the life I had back then. But praise God, I’m not that woman anymore, so it’s not the memory of those days that makes this a challenging subject. It’s the awareness that you, the reader of this post, might at this very moment be under a full-on attack by your worst enemy (flesh-and-blood, or spiritual). Or perhaps you have fought and have emerged the other side of a battle (physical, emotional, or spiritual), and now bear the wounds and scars from all that was inflicted upon you during the fight. In either case, here you are – reading this post. And that, beloved, deserves reverence in my writing.
Spiritually speaking, we all have an enemy that is constantly trying to ‘take us out’, and the simple truth is that the more of a threat you are to him, the more vicious and strategic his attack.
But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cushand Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.. (Isaiah 43:1-4a)
I’ve been blessed to know several spirituals “Oaks” in my life, men and women whose faith is unshakable and can face even the most violent storms of life with barely a blink of the eye. These are the people I like to surround myself with, and these are the people I turn to for comfort and support when I’m facing an impending fight or am battle-weary during a long and drawn out conflict where victory seems to be elusive.
Now back to my story. At that point in time, my enemy (who I now realize was not my ex, but the evil that was controlling him) seemed so much bigger than I was capable of dealing with. And in truth, he was – which is why I’m so grateful that all God asked me to do at that very moment was to GET UP and STAND!
And so I got up. I took a stand. And my God stood with me!
Was I still afraid? Absolutely. Did things change overnight? No. Was I wounded in the battle? Yes, but healing has come and I am now a more skilled warrior as a result of the battle experience.
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
In this broken world, you and I will encounter many trials and be called to battle against the enemy many times. We may suffer some hard hits in the warfare; let us fight on. We may be tempted to ease up off that territory we were trying to overtake, considering it better/safer/saner to find contentedness in dry valleys than to press on to conquer farer pasture lands; let us press on. We may be so terrified of our foe that we can barely manage to keep a grip on our weaponry; let us then STAND!
Let us be found STANDING! Snot-nosed but STANDING! Weak-kneed but STANDING! Bug-eyed but suited up in the Armor of God, and STANDING! It’s His Armor we are wearing, and He is in the battle with us. If we will be obedient to follow the instructions He gives, then when the dust finally settles – we can be assured we will be found STILL STANDING!
And that is how we grow from acorn to Oak, by standing and standing and standing until those roots-of-faith grow so deep and so strong that we then become a place of solace and refuge for others during their storms.
The song ‘OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail)’ by Hillsong UNITED beautifully describes the mystery of walking by faith when moving into deep waters.
When the storms of life come, may our roots prove deep!