Thursday, June 25, 2009

Identify the Enemy and Win Part II

In part one of this blog I shared how God spoke to me through creation and how I prayed for Him to show me the truth about my life and bring any lies into the light. He did and still is….

Later that night, He showed me who the real enemy was and how I had been deceived for years. The battle was not between me and others. The "others" were on my side and the enemy was disguised as my advocate. I saw those who loved me as though they were out to destroy me and the one who sought to destroy me as my friend. I had been going through a time of heavy oppression and I didn't even know it! I was deceived into rebellion, isolation, loneliness, and heartbreak. What should have been a place I could run to for rest had become a polluted waste. It was a slow fade that happened without my detection over a long period of time.

This was the great awakening that brought me to the other side of a long and difficult battle for freedom. It brought me to my knees in repentance and I let it all go. I handed it over to the only One who could carry my load…finally. God shined His light in the darkness, helping me to discern the truth from the lies. Now, with His help, I am cleaning up the mess and rebuilding from the ruins. Since that night of revelation, I have learned so much more and I am continuing to learn. That night, the scales fell from my eyes. I was able to identify the true enemy and it brought victory to a long and seemingly hopeless battle.

Since then, there has been a well spring of joy flooding up and out of me! I am able to love those I once saw as my enemies..and see how much they have been loving me. Even better, I have put my dependence on God because I have realized that it is humanly impossible for people to fill me with joy. Circumstances cannot bring me joy. These things can bring moments of happiness but not lasting joy rooted deep within. My joy can only come from the Holy Spirit of God.

Often we blame others and circumstances for the darkness we experience when really, we only need to take a closer look at the pollution we have allowed to seep within our own heart. God opened my eyes and brought His light into the darkness. He has exposed the pollution and cleaned the mess I made. What is even more amazing is that even when my heart was filthy...He did not leave. He sat in the midst of it all and waited for me to meet Him there...just like I left the peninsula at first, but was drawn to go back and seek Him in the midst of it all…and that is where I found Him. He is still changing me, growing me, and purifying me with His righteousness more and more every day. He is creating in me a clean heart and renewing a steadfast spirit within me daily (Psalm 51:10 NIV).

This isn't much different than when God's people in Ezra turned from God and intermarried with those who would pollute their lives and turn them from God. It isn't much different than when Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden. The same enemy who lived then still roams the earth seeking whom He will devour (I Peter 5:8). But when God's people humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, He will hear from Heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14). He is a God of new beginnings, of forgiveness and of love. He alone is the source of pure joy everlasting. I once again have placed my hope in God and God alone. He has made me clean. Now I can grow.

Identify the Enemy and Win Part I

Ezra 9:10-11
"But now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have disregarded the commands you gave through your servants and prophets when you said: 'The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. by their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other.'"

Who would ever think that I might actually receive revelation from the book of Ezra? This just goes to show that God's Word is truly alive and we have fellowship with Him when we study His Truth and are obedient to what we learn.

A good friend and colleague said something to me recently that changed my life. It was in regards to the spiritual battle I have been fighting. He told me, "The battle is fought in prayer". Jesus didn't win the battle on the cross, the battle was already won by then. He won the battle in the garden when He prayed. This was a defining moment for me. I went home that night and surrendered to pray fervently until I reached the promised land of peace.

My prayers began turning up the heat and the battle was becoming almost unbearable. Finally, one day, I took a day trip with Sue to go back to Pickwick, a place where we once found peace and joy in God's presence. My heart was broken and I felt like I was about to go under. God seemed so far away. Looking back, I do believe God brought us there that day.

I fought the idea of going on this trip. I was too depressed. But, she talked me into it. In previous visits to this place, I had experienced so much joy and growth. But, this time, unknown to me, it was not going to be what I expected. My heart was heavy on this particular day. I felt as if life had beaten me to a pulp and I was running out of strength to go on. I needed strength that only God could give.

We arrived at our favorite place on the peninsula to great disappointment. We began to make our way to the very end where many years ago, we would relax and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. As we made our way there, we began no notice a stench in the air. As we continued to walk, we found the source of the stench. First we observed a few feathers, then more and more as we continued on further (hoping things would improve). Sue commented that it looked like there was some kind of bird fight. It wasn't long before we had to turn around and go back. The area had been saturated with carcasses of dead animals, fish, and pollution. Our favorite spot had been severely neglected.

From a distance it still looked beautiful. But as we took a deeper look, we began to see the filth and it was truly disgusting. We moved to a different area where it was nicer but I was drawn to go back and see if God was trying to tell me something in all of it.

I walked along the shore to avoid the worst, made my way to the very end of the peninsula, sat on a rock and watched the waves roll in. I spent a very long time contemplating and praying about the things I was struggling with. My surroundings began to paint a picture of my life. I had no idea how God was about to move. He always speaks to me through His creation and I knew He had a message for me. So, I began to pray and ask Him what He wanted me to learn from this experience.

He began with calling my attention again to the fact that once this place was once a beautiful place to find rest and peace. But neglect and carelessness transformed it into a polluted mess. Beneath all of that waste, however, there was still a beautiful place. It only needed some tender, loving care and attention to restore it to what it was before. It was then that I began to take a deeper look at a polluted mess within...the place in my heart where once I would run to and meet with God. I had let so many things in life pollute that place. I unknowingly carried baggage that was so old and it "smelled" as bad as the peninsula. I had let co-dependency, pride, selfishness, envy, and insecurity, create a mess not much unlike that which I was observing around me. This was the reason for my darkness...not people or circumstances. I had let circumstances determine my peace. I had been looking to people for joy, thinking that because God wasn't flesh, that He could not fill that need. When in reality, it's because he is not flesh that he can! I spent hours with God and very little time with Sue that day at the river. I prayed. I cried. I cried hard. I asked for wisdom. Eventually, I asked Him to show me the truth and bring darkness to light, no matter how painful it might be. This was the beginning of victory and the path that would lead me to joy.