December 22, 2014

This messy battlefield

The wife of Thomas Edison said of him, “. . . Never does he show any disunity of mind. He has no obsessions and no impeded flow of energy. He is like a child in God’s hands . . . Perhaps this is one reason God can pour all those wonderful ideas through his mind.”

Two and a half years ago, I asked the Lord to enable me to be absolutely surrendered to Him. Little did I know that decision would put me in a battle. Instead of focus, my mind has struggled with distractions as never before. Instead of being straight-forward, I’ve struggled with fascinations and passions that not only surprised me but kept my mind from even thinking about the Lord for long periods, Instead of unimpeded energy, I’ve struggled to have the vigor to do even those things I enjoy.

During all this, God reassured me again and again that I am His child and in His hands, but it didn’t feel like it. I’ve been anxious, not about material needs, but unidentifiable blank spaces, nameless absences that have made prayer difficult because all I could come up with were requests that I knew were not what was needed and questions like, “God, what is happening to me?”

Today I read the following words and focused again on what God has been teaching me . . .  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life . . . And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? . . . Therefore do not be anxious . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25–33)

I edited out the words about food and drink and clothing. Those were not a concern. Had they been, this would have been easier. Instead, I’ve felt like a blindfolded soldier swinging a sword and not being able to see what is attacking me, yet knowing it is not flesh and blood. And in this battle, God says to me the same thing . . . “Seek my kingdom and my righteousness, and I will take care of your needs . . . even those you cannot yet identify.”

The Bible tells the people of God to walk by faith, not by sight. This long battle is about that. It is also being aware that the world, the flesh, and the devil would like me to misidentify what is going on, to think that my problems are as they seem on the surface rather than what they really are. The battlefield is in my head and the attacks are to keep the mind of Christ from ruling my entire life.

This month I read a book that was part fantasy, part sci-fi, about a mythological character doing war against Lucifer. It was mostly like a video game, but it did offer one vivid reality; my spiritual enemy/enemies are adept at making things seem different than what they really are, at making bad look good and good look bad. This can happen even when my heart insists on absolute surrender to Christ without any interest in deception.

These enemies can twist my emotions and mess with my mind. Yet at the same time, I have been deeply aware that this is war and felt as if I’ve been physically battered to the point of exhaustion. 

Mature Christians tell me they know what this is like. They say to hang in there, to keep trusting God. Part of it happens to anyone who is studying theology. Part of it is my gift of spiritual discernment (Satan does not want me to see his workings, never mind pray against him), and part is that the stronger the war, the more opportunities I have to speak truth to others without fear, another thing the enemy does not want.

This is not just an odd mental battle. Sometimes I feel like my very life is being hammered against a wall or dangled over a cliff. I’ve some weak spots that are particularly vulnerable, and surrendering them to Jesus seems to make the war rage with more intensity. I’m not sure how this will turn out, but He does make this promise that if I seek His kingdom and His righteousness, He will take care of all my needs.

To that, the mind of Christ says, “So be it!”

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