As you’ve followed along, you know that I’m on a journey (like we all are) of meditating on God’s Word, taking it in as implanted Word (James 1:21), and learning to apply His Word to my life (James 1:25). During this journey, I’m also bringing old wounds (that have knocked me flat over and over again in my life) to the feet of Jesus. I can’t heal myself from these wounds, but God can! One of my core beliefs, that have kept me from experiencing God’s perfect love and grace and sharing His grace with others, is that I am not enough. I’ve spent a lot of years on the hamster wheel trying to be enough, only to ultimately fail and feel broken and helpless.
I’ve been praying and journaling about all the things on my plate, which has been an overwhelming list. I’ve asked for God’s guidance, listened for His response, and with His guidance made a decision about the things to keep on my plate, and the things I need to let go. I thank Him for His guidance and encouragement, and I set out to come clean with some people that I had just “bit off more than I can chew”. These were positions in organizations that I truly believe are doing God’s work, and I was excited about being a part of His work.
Here’s what I’ve learned: God doesn’t want me to be as busy as I’ve allowed myself to become. I need time with my Lord, time with my family and time with myself. If I’m always running, then I don’t have the time to stop and listen – and to wait on the Lord. I’ve realized that the schedule I created (yep, it was me) has kept me exhausted, and I haven’t been able to give from a place of fullness – I’ve been running on empty. And I know that isn’t God’s purpose for me. One of the things on my plate is service to my Dad. He is elderly with Parkinsons’ and living alone again in an assisted living community. God placed on my heart that THIS is the ministry where I am most needed.
After much prayer, last Saturday I showed up differently with Dad than I had in a long time. I brought energy, love and laughter. I started to tell him a few times what we needed to do, and then I’d stop in mid-sentence and remind him (and me) that he was a grown man and he could make his own decisions. We spent a joyful day together, visiting, playing cards and enjoying each other’s company. I don’t know how many of those days we’ll have left, and I want to be able to be fully present and loving during our times together.
I believe the Lord guided me to give up two positions, which I did yesterday. I talked with the founders of each organization and explained how I had come to my decision. I opened up as to what I had unintentionally created for myself, and why I needed to let some stuff go. I have to say how overwhelmed I was with grace yesterday. These leaders and a couple of friends I talked about my decision with (as a “heads up so that they wouldn’t be blindsided) offered encouragement, support, love and grace. I feel more focused and lighter than I have in a long time. I’m looking forward to focusing my efforts and sharing God’s love and grace in smaller circles.
This all sounds great, right? I bet you’re wondering about the title I chose for today’s post. Satan is looking for a way in – a way to make me doubt what I should be doing and doubting that I correctly heard God’s direction – a way to distract me from implanting God’s Word and distracting me from my prayers. Ultimately, he’s looking for a way to break me, and lie to me that I am not enough, not even with God – and he’s chosen to use a friend to try to reel me in to anger, brokenness, and shame – from a most unexpected direction. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Upon waking a little before 4:00 this morning, I noticed I had received a message from a dear friend during the middle of the night (one I had talked with yesterday to relay my decisions but didn’t seem supportive). I read the message even before I had coffee. The message cut me to the bone, accusing me of dealing a death blow to one of the organizations from which I resigned. I must have stared at that sentence for quite some time. I started to respond several times, but ultimately I chose to hold my tongue. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20) How am I able to do this? I am leaning on God and His promises. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
To be truthful, I personally do not possess enough grace to give when I am attacked. I’ve prayed asking for God’s eyes of grace, and for wisdom. Truly in this moment, the grace I’m giving comes directly from Him, I am only being a willing vessel. We don’t know what is going on in the hearts and minds of others we come in contact with – not even close friends. In this circumstance, I can only pray for my friend. I believe the enemy is attacking my friend as well as me, otherwise my friend couldn’t have been a conduit of his lies. God has helped me to realize that it is not my friend who is attacking me, it is the enemy. “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.” (Ephesians 6:12) In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul said that he was not ignorant of Satan’s schemes. We cannot afford to be ignorant either.
How do we confront Satan’s lies? We look at what God says. So, when you may be feeling like a rotten Christian, for example, because you haven’t spent time in prayer or the Word, or you feel like you’ve let God down in some way and you start thinking, “God must be so disappointed in me, He’s likely to just give up on me.” Well, what does God’s Word say? “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) And, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
So when we find ourselves having negative thoughts about ourselves or about God or about others, what do we do with those? Ephesians 6:16 says, “…taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” It says we will be able to extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one. These are the thoughts, comments and accusations that seem to come out of nowhere—like flaming arrows. What do we do with those? Notice it says “taking up the shield of faith.” That is something we have to do. We cannot afford to be passive in the spiritual battle. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We have to actively take God at His Word. If you are attacked by a flaming arrow, it’s aimed at your mind, and it’s hoping to eventually take up residence in your heart.
Satan cannot read our minds, but he can plant thoughts in our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “…we are taking every thought captive according to the obedience of Christ.” Okay, what kind of thoughts are we to take captive? Thoughts that come to your mind that are contrary to what God says about you, Himself or about other people. Thoughts can become actions; actions can become habits. And it all starts with a thought. God wants us to trust His Word more than we trust our feelings, more than we trust how things appear. God’s Word is truer than anything I may think. It is truer than anything I feel. It is truer than how things appear. The Bible says that, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) David in the Psalms said, “Your Word…is a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105)
We can stand up to any situation, any thought or feeling and turn to our Rock (Psalms 18:46), the One who loves us and guides us into all truth. (John 16:13) Satan may try to tempt us, discourage us, defeat us. But he is a liar, and we need to confront his lies with the truth of God’s Word. When we actively take up our shield of faith in God’s Word, we stand victorious in Christ. “For the battle is not ours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)
You’ve been following during my Bible Study of James chapter 1, and I have no doubt that is why the enemy is attacking me. During this study God has shown me a lot about myself. Prior to beginning this study I might not have stopped before replying, and there’s a good chance I could have participated and perpetuated an ugly scene. I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit led my thought process this morning, and even before that led me to order and start this Bible study. Obedience to the Word of God demonstrates that the faith we claim to have is true faith.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:22-25 NIV)
I would like to say that I’ve completely moved passed being blindsided, but I haven’t yet. I am praying about it and standing on God’s promises. I know that God will see me through it, and that there will be an amazing gift on the other side of it. I’m praising that even in this struggle, I have been able to hold on to the joy and relief I received in God’s guidance in my decision. I am hurt and angry, but God will help me through those emotions. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3) I’m keeping alert, and have put on the full armor of God for protection. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11) I ask for you to join me in praying for the resolution of this situation, and that God will be honored and glorified. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)