Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13
Last week I felt distracted. No, I was definitely distracted. I was over assuring those around me that I will be “ok” and that there were not hidden motives behind my leaving Jubilee. Although the support from many has been encouraging, there was a frustration in the corner of my mind last week. And for days, the “What am I going to do?” battled the “What I had experienced and known to be true.” And this skirmish started up just about the same time as the three-year anniversary of Jaime’s passing. As a man of faith, I knew exactly what was going on. I was under “sniper fire” from my enemy and the same old whispers and worries quickly crowded out the peace and assurance I had rested in for several days. Restless, exhausted, and defeated, in some areas of my life, I asked friends around me to pray with and for me – that I would stand firm and be refreshed and rejuvenated by Truth and God’s overwhelming presence. That breakthrough slowly happened this week and this morning, during some quiet time with the Lord, He showed up and reminded me of something I had known in the past but was experiencing a new in my present.
It is at the height of spiritual growth, victory, closeness, etc. that we are the most susceptible for spiritual attack.
It’s true! As I think back over times in my life when I fell the fastest it typically followed moments when I felt the closest to God and/or had experienced an amazing demonstration of His presence or provision. Just as I was about to beat myself up, this morning, for finding myself in yet another skirmish with my defeated foe, I found comfort in the strangest of accounts in the life of Christ – His temptation. We read that Jesus was lead by the Spirit and had been spending time with His Father…and then…Satan came to bring temptation. That’s right! Jesus had been experiencing closeness with the Lord, perhaps moments when God was laying out the ministry plan, and the types of men Jesus would need to bring on His team. Satan came and eagerly shared a similar line of attack. “Command these stones be made into bread” (James, you need to figure out how you are going to provide for your needs. You need to…). “Hurl yourself off this high place…. and God will protect you” (James, it’s great you trust in God and believe He’s in this, but you should do “this” because it sounds like something God would be ok with). “I’ll give you all of this if you will bow down and worship me” (James, this is how much you have to make and “this” is the most important item you should be thinking about. Prayer is great but you need to be focused on finding “this” type of job. Your bills aren’t going to pay themselves. Prayer is not currency).
I know that I am not alone in this experience. Many of you have faced similar situations or maybe are in an attack right now. Like me, you can look back and see all that God has done. You know that He is able to deliver and provide and do things on our behalf that are jaw dropping. Yet…you’re tired. You’re tired of explaining. You’re tired of assuring. You’re tired of the condescending “That’s nice” comments from people, as you share about your faith and/or how God is working in your life, and you wonder if there is really an end to the present attack.
With each attack, Jesus remembered and declared what IS TRUE – God alone provides for our needs; it is not our call to manipulate Scripture to question God’s authority and will; and God alone is worthy of our attention and worship. Jesus called out the attack and the Attacker. And that is where I found peace this weekend – reminded again of God’s Truth, armed with the assurance that I am not alone, and secure that despite probable, momentary setbacks, the outcome is in my favor.
For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11