I turned in my book a couple of weeks ago. It was a glorious exhale after what has felt quite frankly like one heck of a run to get to that point.
Oh my words…a real, live book! I can’t even…
You should know that I love what I’ve written, and I think that you will too. The process of writing it and working through the things God has been teaching me has been hard and beautiful over the past several years. But, I believe that the finished product has changed my life and might change yours too. It feels weird to say that, but I really do believe in what the Lord has allowed me to share.
Here’s something you don’t know perhaps about what it looks like to have created a work like that…You know, a thing that in so many ways has changed your own life and could change others as well. It can be hell to get through.
Friends who do this sort of thing tell me that’s normal…to come under spiritual attack when you’re doing something for God that can be used in big ways. Truthfully, anytime we’re doing something for the Lord, we’d be foolish to think that doesn’t point us out to powers that are against us too.
Not to get too Frank Peretti spiritual warfare-ish on you or anything, but, I want you to know that it has been real for me. The spiritual warfare. It’s real, friends. And not in terms of just disappointments or something petty either.
Every single area of my life has come under attack since I started writing this book. Every. Single. one. My health, my marriage, my kids, my other work, it has all been targeted. Relentlessly.
They say that is normal. But make no mistake, it’s not a comfortable thing to have warfare become so “normal.”
And when the more obvious things haven’t crushed me in the ways they were clearly intended, I see moves into other places of my life…into the yuckiness of my own soul and the sinfulness that is inherent in us all. Those places might just be more dangerous you know…the less obvious ones. The places we may not even pay all that much attention to until we notice something icky lurking around in our spirits.
I see the way the enemy sneaks to exploit my own heart, which is still a mess even though Jesus does take up residence there. Because the thing is that when you’re a target, if you take your eyes off of the prize of Christ for even 2 seconds, that’s all the time that a snake needs to strike you in the heels.
So he strikes in your Achilles…in the places that are tender and wanting. In the places that you have always worked so hard with the Lord to move beyond, he whispers. But full healing takes time, and brokenness isn’t restored over night.
I grieve the brokenness that happens in private for people, and I grieve the brokenness that makes its way public for people the Lord has used in mighty ways. I grieve the way that the enemy endeavors to wipe out faithfulness of God’s people with egregious public sin. I grieve the way that the church itself crucifies the faithful of years when they misstep and their brokenness and humanity come crashing over them in waves.
Can we stop picking at the logs in other eyes and focus on the specks of our own? Can we not disqualify the mighty ways people have been used in the past, even when they rub up against their own brokenness for all to see in the present? I’m not saying we start handing out hall passes all the time for us to wallow in our own sin and to live deceiving one another, but I am saying, can we extend grace instead of crucifying one another? Can we pray for families we see being wrecked by poor choices instead of chaining them to unforgiveness? Can we support one another and pray harder when we see the ways that God desires to use those around us? Can we set aside bitterness and jealousy and selfishness and celebrate successes and pray more fervently when we see larger targets being drawn on the backs of those around us?
Can we hold hands and stand in solidarity over the love of Christ that is so big that entire congragations declare out of overwhelming brokenness and forgiveness that “THIS is the day the Lord has made?!” Even when this day may feel heavy at its dawn? Can we stand in that love? Can we battle for truth and justice and righteousness together without bloodying one another further along the way?
Lets not forget that we have an enemy who is much more relentless and patient than we often give him credit for being. I hesitate to give him any credit at all because I know my God is bigger regardless, but lets not forget that enemy wants to take us all down. And sometimes he uses us to take each other down too. AHHHH….our own depravity is such a sad place without the love of God!
Lets not grow weary of doing good…of loving…of interceeding and standing in gaps for one another.
Make no mistake , our God will relentlessly pursue your heart…but He isn’t the only one who’s after it. Don’t grow weary of doing good…of loving others. Let’s not allow our fatigue to give the enemy a foothold. And when we see footholds of others, can we stand in the gap on behalf of them instead of driving new wedges into their broken souls?
I’m under no illusion that turning in a manuscript means that this battle I’m in is through. For all I know, it could be just the beginning. Part of me is terrified of that. Part of me feels battle ready. All of me knows that the war for my soul will surely not be without bruises or scratches or pitfalls. In the end, I know who wins the war…because the war for my life was won on a cross.
Lets remember and stand for that on behalf of one another too.
May we be known by our love for one another and by the way we don’t fight with, but FOR our brothers and sisters too.
How about you? We all come up against opposition. To each of us God gives a measure of faith, and to walk out that faith will put a target on our backs. Do you see the ways the enemy comes after you? Have you fallen into traps before you even recognize they are there? How has the testing of your faith made you fall, and what did it look like to get back up again? To steal, kill, and destroy…that’s what our enemy comes to do… how does that look in your life? And when you fall, can you still accept the love of our relentless Lord? Can you extend that same grace to others?
** I wrote this post probably 10 days ago and have been sitting on it. I wrote it before the Charleston shooting at Emanuel AME, and before another well respected pastor confessed to a moral failure…and what I keep thinking is that we’re all just one poor choice away from sins that can threaten to destroy lives all around us. I hope that somewhere in ourselves we can find grace to walk in wisdom, love, and forgiveness to be the hands and feet of Christ that say, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matt 11:28-29
Lord, give us the grace to accept your relentless love and to extend it to others. Show us how to walk in humility to accept your unending grace. Ignite in us a passion to never give up on our pursuit of you no matter how many times we fall and are bruised along the way.
(Image from GoogleMaps)