It had been a particularly challenging week. I’d flown across the country to support a loved one and found myself dangling over a gulf of anxiety. The morning of my return finally brought me to my knees, crying out to God for what felt like an ever-elusive peace.
I knew he was telling me to trust him. But giving someone else the keys to my deepest fears was not something I found particularly enticing just then. Nevertheless, at some point I realized I couldn’t live like that anymore and recognized the necessity of obedience. I texted a group of women who had been praying with me all week and, ever so carefully, I cracked open the door to the darkest part of my heart.
I first sensed, and then heard that God wanted me to speak out against the lies with which the enemy had lured me into submission.* It came audibly because the speaker in the podcast I was listening to suddenly said something like this, “There is a bully in your mind. He’s belittling, condemning, judging, and controlling your thoughts in a way you’d likely never allow another person to… but he’s getting away with it! You need to take a stand and talk back to the bully.”
So I did, with rain pounding on the car windows all around me.
“You’re wrong!” I said, timidly at first. “You’ve filled my head with lies that have no basis in truth.”
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:10-12
“I can’t do this myself. And I don’t have to. You tell me I can’t trust God, but I CAN trust him, now and always.”
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.Psalm 33:4
The more I spoke out against the enemy’s lies, the more emboldened I felt. “You try to make me forget what God’s done for me, and I’ve believed you too many times. But God has come through for me—so many times—and I know he’ll do it again.”
This is the confidence we have in approaching God that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.1 John 5:14
“And all that stuff you tell me about how I need to work harder, do more, and get further on my own? I call BS! I don’t ever have to earn his love, peace, or grace.”
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.Ephesians 2:8-9
“And I couldn’t earn it, even if I tried… but you already knew that, didn’t you! All of it is freely given to me, as a child of God.”
And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.Galatians 4:6-7
“You tell me I’m too far gone. But it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. I am a new creation in Christ.”
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20
“And, I’m not weak! In and through Jesus, I am made strong!”
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10
“I know what you’re doing. I know you keep reminding me of all my worries to keep me from living in true freedom. But I will not be a slave to fear. I can trust his promises.”
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Matthew 6:25-26
“And one more thing: you know how you like to point out other people’s judgment of me? How you make sure I hear it and then relive it… especially with darkness all around me… over and over again?”
For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’Isaiah 41:13
“I’m surrendering to the hero of this story—Jesus—to rescue me from my own thoughts.”
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.2 Timothy 4:18
“I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know he will still be holding me.”
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:6-9
When I was finished, I looked up and noticed there was someone sitting in the car next to me. At first I was embarrassed. Did she hear my ranting? No way, the rain was too loud. She was probably just waiting for the rain to slow down before getting out of her car. But as she caught my eye for a brief moment, I felt a sense of camaraderie and realized, once again, the importance of community… of why we need each other.
It was the podcast speaker who helped me recognize how to take a step of obedience. And the prayer group who gave me confidence, knowing they were petitioning God for us even when I didn’t have the words.
Later, as I sat on the flight home, it would also be the stranger who sat next to me, telling me the most amazing story of God’s providence. (That story is coming in the next post.)
The enemy is trying to isolate and bully us away from the Kingdom of God. We must be on guard. Talk back to the bully! And spend time together, in community with other believers who can speak truth into our lives.
Looking for a way to keep who you are in Christ front and center? I created this bookmark for that purpose. You can find it on Etsy.
* Scripture refers to the devil as the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this world (John 14:30). It also says he is a great pretender (2 Cor. 11:14), comes to steal and destroy (John 10:10), and tries to keep us from seeing the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). Ephesians 6:11-12 tells us we wrestle with spiritual forces of evil, but that if we put on the armor of God we can stand against such schemes.
Encourage and discuss here