“…and prepare the sleigh without bells.” (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe)
I think the enemy works with no pomp & circumstance. He just seizes the moment. Peter tells us:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
That’s the terrifying thing about him – is that he seeks me. out He knows my weaknesses and he aims to push me deeper and deeper into believing those are what define me. But he does it quietly, subtly. Whispering instead of screaming.
That’s what this last year of my life has been. It’s been a season of frustration with church and frustration with community and frustration with relationships. He knows that. I lack discipline. I lack the foundation I’ve had for so long. Frankly, I’m an easy target – he didn’t even have to try that hard.
He knows that I am a cynic by nature – so he whispers:
“How do you know that’s true? How can you prove it? There are still SO many things that don’t add up.”
He know how deeply I desire a relationship – so he distracts me:
“Lower your standards. Morals, values, similar convictions…those aren’t important. Besides, you can’t be too picky at this point in your life.”
He knows that lust and sexual impurity is something that continues to be a struggle for me – so he lies to me:
“You aren’t hurting anyone. Everyone else thinks like this. It is normal. You should do what makes you happy. Your thoughts don’t make a difference.”
All these things, and more. Constant lies. Constant whispers that aim to distract me from the life I’m called to live. And it’s more than a calling, it’s the life I want to live. But that’s exactly why the enemy has to be subtle. He knows that we won’t just give up something that we’re wired for right off the bat. It takes time to turn someone away from Christ. It takes distraction and exhaustion and confusion and doubt. The perfect recipe for the rejection of Christ.
I was close. That might sound dramatic. But it’s true. The past month, since I have known I am leaving my job at the church I work for, I’ve had the thought – what if I just stopped going? What if I just sought community in other places and figured everything else out on my own? Who needs the church? Who needs accountability?
I’ve even thought – once or twice – who needs Jesus?
For a girl who was raised in the church, who has loved Jesus from a young age and felt so secure in His love for nearly 20 years, this is a scary thing to think about. But I did. Because I am all of those things – distracted and exhausted and confused and full of doubt. And those things are not necessarily bad things when one is actively immersed in the pursuit of God. But you see, I’m not that. I’m not strong enough for this.
Instead of reading Scripture, breathing in the truth that will truly set me free – I’ve made excuses. No time. No energy. No passion.
Instead of fighting for the church instead of with it – I’ve given up. I’ve decided that my happiness and well-being is more important than the bride of Christ. I’ve deemed the plan of Christ to save the world (the church) “too much to handle” and started to walk away.
Instead of trusting God to provide relationships in His time – I’ve entertained thoughts, and more recently actual pursuits of people that simply don’t point me to Christ. I’ve justified it and said that God’s obviously not working in that department, so I gotta do what I gotta do.
You’d never know all this though. If there’s anything I am a master at, it’s wearing a mask. Playing the part comes naturally. But it doesn’t come without cost. Not without a rub. Last night I could barely worship for 5 minutes without feeling sick to my stomach. My facade finally took its toll. I was the Israelites. My worship, the phony and half-assed worship of a God who literally created the world and breathed life into me, was indeed a stench to Him.
So this, all this is the epiphany. But that’s not the hard part. It’s the changing that’s the hard part. It’s the settling in and fighting everyday to silence the whispers the enemy wants me to listen to. It’s the buckling down and doing the things that are hard because they are also, by no coincidence, the things that are best. It’s understanding that no matter how many lessons I continue to learn in this season of life (and trust me, I know it’s a lot. Practically every blog I write is an epiphany I have about God…which, in my opinion, is freaking amazing), it never is right to quit. It never is right to stop learning and growing and fighting. It always is right to keep going and seeking. Always.
Jesus, I am so in awe that you allow me to struggle through these things. I can’t imagine, watching your daughter, someone you’ve provided for and been faithful to her entire life start to turn her back on you. I can’t fathom what it must feel like to give me the freedom to choose when you know I will choose wrong. But you do. Because that’s how I learn. That’s how it sinks in. The closer I get to the cliff’s edge, the more I know I need you. It’s sad I had to get that close, but the important part now is that I don’t teeter near the edge, tip-toeing toeing around what would lead me into a full-fledged downward spiral. I don’t need to dwell in my disasters. I need to turn, walk away, and live the story you are writing for me. As cliche as that sounds.
This peace I’ve been looking for – I’ve found it. And Jesus’ peace isn’t soft or subtle. It’s blatant and booming, arriving on a sleigh with bells blaring. And it’s the best.