Spiritual attack and renewal

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Before we moved to Asheville I wasn’t aware of being under spiritual attack.  As a lover of God’s Word, I should have been!

1 Peter 5:8

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

My first years at my school in Asheville his weapon of choice took the form of parental complaints to the principal. This year, he dialed up the discouragement knob.  I’ve been aware for the past 3 years that complaining, gratitude and contentment are connected. When I complain, I invite unhappiness.  So recognizing the grumbles and replacing them by cataloging blessings has been the approach I’ve PRAYED to employ. Intuitively I knew that gratitude could defend me when mildly demoralized.

The enemy turned subtle; however, the attacks intensified.  He selected a foreign language departmental meeting to resurrect a familiar conflict between those who employ a grammar-based approach to teaching and those (me) who advocate a comprehensible-input method.  I felt like giving up.  The effort to advocate for proficiency over accuracy loomed exhausting.  And I fell into low-level depression.

But God….had sovereignly scheduled a fully-funded conference for me and 7 other colleagues to attend.  Zip enthusiasm. Nada!  I was seriously contemplating giving up teaching after this year.  Two nights before my scheduled departure, the demons descended in force. Could have been just one, but it sure felt like a host of them!

The effect?  I stayed awake most of the night, feeling the energy for any of my roles drain away. Whether managing the day-to-day family budget, facilitating a monthly women’s group at church, writing blogs, or especially my job. Fear filled me and sleep was alien.

But God….revealed the next morning during my time with Him that this was a new form of spiritual attack. That startling insight alone made the difference and carried me through the day.  My resolve to FIGHT grew back.  By the next night I actually felt some enthusiasm growing for the trip.  Then insight.  I could see that God had ordained this conference IN ORDER to refresh and energize me for the next phase of life.  And in order to remind me to depend on Him.

And energize me He did.  I sought out workshops led by advocates of the comprehensible input way of teaching foreign languages. The old mojo flooded back.

That vicious and evil feline tried once more that night of conference day 1. I awoke at 2 am and couldn’t fall back asleep. He repeated his destructive sword parry the following night as well. OVER-WHELM-ING did everything loom. All the changes to shift my lesson focus back on a proficiency track seemed impossible GIVEN the obstacles I played over and over in my mind’s eye.

But God….countered with Truth.  He reminded me that if He planned this trip and allowed me to undergo the attacks to toughen me up, then He will lead me each day as I create and plan new lessons.  I don’t have to have all the answers or specifics in place for the rest of the year.  He is enough.  After all He is my ever-present Provider.  So I do what any of us must do in this world, as temporary New Creation sojourners in a yet-to-be redeemed world:

  • we walk WITH Him, hand in hand, keeping our eyes on the One who creates and sustains

Whew!  Glad I’m not in charge.

Deut 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

 

 

Incoming! – we’re under attack!

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I didn’t see it coming.  I thought we were dealing with other, on-going issues.  But as hours passed and the distance between my husband and me grew and the feelings turned icy, and directed against each other, I suddenly saw THIS in a different light.

Certain subtle strategic, spirit-placed clues helped me to see the attack for what it was. At coffee yesterday, my friend Kris mentioned trying to praise God’s attributes alphabetically in the car en route to the gym, and un-God-like characteristics kept breaking into her thoughts.  Instead of qualities like Dependable or Daily provider, traits like dour and doubtful came to mind.  She then commented, “I know where THOSE thoughts are from, not me, but Satan himself!”

That idea lodged in the outskirts of my mind.  Then I was reading Ann Voskamp’s blog about 4 action steps to cement a marriage. (This – after a silent ride home in the car from our small group)  All of a sudden, in the middle of a mini pity party, I pictured Mike and me as 2 jigsaw puzzle pieces, jaggedly pulled apart.  We no longer were one complete picture.  Our sinful brokenness was SO tangible for our emotional energy was directed at making each other the enemy.

It was then that I began to see what was happening.  This was a spiritual skirmish that the Sovereign Controller, i.e. God was allowing.  All military encounters, whether actual or preparatory, can be used by wise leaders to strengthen soldiers.  “Let’s get our feet dirty, boys.  Brandish those weapons. Jab at the enemy!  Use your tactics. Don’t just stand there, fight back!”

Each attack makes soldiers wiser and stronger.  Crawling out of the opposite trenches and meeting in what just a few hours ago had been No Man’s Land, I hope that Mike and I will stay alert.  We are in a faith battle in this ‘for keeps’ spiritual war.  For our enemy is prowling around, determined to weaken us and make us ineffective as Christians.

As Paul warned the Ephesians and now us in Chapter 6:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

And why is the enemy attacking my husband and me?  Only because we have stepped out and publically talked about a Journey of Faith.  We are leaving ‘secure’ jobs and a predictable life and income and support structure to go off to the hills and build a new life.  We have announced that we are walking toward this new life by faith in God and the promises in His Word and NOT by sight.  It’s risky and tempting to Satan.

It ‘so happens’ that Mike and I are reading in Job, this start of the New Year, as part of a chronological Bible reading plan.  We, the readers, know that Satan is attacking Job with God’s permission. Today I see this ‘coïncidence’ as part of our spiritual fore-warning. Thank you, Holy Spirit!

Shields up!  Helmets on! Jesus’ righteous breastplate buckled tight.  Peace-laced sandals gripping our feet as we move forward! God’s Word-sharpened sword at the ready! Tightening ranks with my beloved husband.  We have each other’s backs. 

Chronological Reading Plan of the Bible in a year

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