The Gospel message of grace is powerful, Jesus'death on the cross unfathomable, and the word of God is amazing yet heady stuff.
Over the last couple years I have been seeking God more intimately than ever before and as I dig deeper into Scripture I am more and more fascinated. As questions arise, and they constantly do, I am thankful for the work of Bible commentators and Bible teachers. But more than that, I am thankful for the fresh revelations that have come to me through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Without going into too much detail, I want to share something that happened recently as well as what God spoke to me in the process.
But, before I do, I need you to understand that I am not one of those people who gives the enemy more credit than he deserves and I have never been one to sit too long in the spiritual realm. Simply, I have never been comfortable there.
Here is an example. I have a friend who, when I ask her how she is, her answer is always that she is under attack by Satan. I pray for her. But my inward response is different. I don't usually say what I am thinking out loud, but it goes something like this. "Why does the enemy have so much power over you?! What are you reading, watching, saying? Where is your focus? Is your heart pure?
Then I would ask myself, Isn't it through our own sin that Satan gets his foot in the door in the first place?
Here is another example. Paul and I have other friends who travels to Africa frequently and pray for the natives to be free from bondage to the demonic. My skin starts to tingle just listening to the stories they tell, and I find myself silently saying, Thank you Jesus. Thank you that you haven't called me to that ministry. Here, I know, is where it might be time for me to examine my own heart.
I have another friend who has seen Angels. "I want that, Lord!" I said when she told me. Can you imagine? Then I find out that she also sometimes sees demons and my prayer instantly transformed. "Never mind about what I said, Lord." I told him. "If seeing Angels goes hand in hand with seeing the armies of Satan then I change my mind."
In my early years as a Christian I often walked blindly into things because of my desire to know God more. I went with women to conferences that I really knew nothing about and before I knew what was happening, I was right in the midst of things that simply did not feel right in my spirit and I did not want to be a part of them.
I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. There was, after all, a huge room full of women that thought everything going on around us was fine. In seeking answers to these uncomfortable things, I prayed fervently and started to study the Bible.
That is where I settled. It has been the one constant in my life. My desire to understand God's word and His truth has never waned. It is my center, and He continues to draw me back for more.
In my desire, God orchestrated what I needed and when I needed it. He has used them to draw me always back to Jesus, and breath new life into these broken dry bones.
Now that you have a little more of my history I'll share what brought me to write this post. Several months ago, I found myself in the presence of a woman who I had never seen and did not know but when she looked at me, the hair stood up on my arms. Something in my spirit stirred wildly, and I wanted to get as far from her as I could. This was a "church" event which made it all the more disconcerting. I couldn't shake it, and as the feeling lingered, I could do nothing but lay it down in prayer. "What was really weird, Lord. Really weird. What was that?"
It happened again months later when I saw the women a second time. This encounter was brief but just as powerful. I have not seen the woman again.
Now, it's a few months later, and in a casual conversation I am told about a woman who has been hired for a job. This job affects my life only indirectly. I did not know this person, and had never seen them at this point. (Sorry to be so vague, but I feel it's necessary.)
As this conversation continued, something happened. The best description I can give you is that something came on me. I got scared, and then enraged. It was powerful.
I felt out of control and crazy. I was in a very uncomfortable, unfamiliar place and yet, going off inside me along with the danger alarm, was a vague reminder that I had walked in this place before.
It was more than I could deal with. I just wanted it to go away.
It took a while to even pray about it. But when I got there, I prayed a lot.
Weeks later, when this person and I met face to face, God had gone before me. And while there was nothing on the surface but kind words and a sweet smile, I knew there was also something in front of me that was dark and wanted to bring me harm. This became a serious issue in my life.
However, what has come out this time, what God has revealed to me since is this...
The spiritual battle going on around us is not to be taken lightly. We are told to put on the armor of God for a reason. Ephesians 6:10-15. Multiple times over the last few years I've questioned God concerning things that didn't feel right in my spirit. Understanding God's truth and having his discernment has been the topic of much conversation between the Lord and I.
So this time when I asked him, "What is this about, Lord?" His words were clear. "I'm showing you what it's about."
As I pondered this, I knew that God had allowed me to experience something spiritually dark because I needed to know of it's power and learn how to pray.
The next week in small group the word of the night was, "vulnerable." Our men were preparing for a weekend retreat and we talked and prayed about the importance of being vulnerable before the Lord. That word and image stayed with me for a long time.
A little over a week later, God brought all of it to a close as I was meditating over this scripture.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Theologians may disagree on what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was, but Paul's torment was great enough for him to ask God to remove it 3 times. God, however, kept it there so that Paul would not become conceited.
It is not a coincidence that I received this Scripture on Sunday at a church I don't normally attend. God got me there because he wanted me to hear this word. This is who God is.
He then went on to remind me of my own prideful words. I had spoken them to my husband and my daughter. They went something like this. "Maybe "so and so" should spend some time in God's word. I spend more time in it than anyone I know and you don't see Satan wrecking havoc over me."
Then God tied it all up with the word from our small group. "You didn't think you were "vulnerable" to something like this." He told me. "I needed to show you that you were."
Wow God...Okay. You got my attention and now I give you my repentance.
I am vulnerable, but you are great in power and in love.