Have you ever declared God’s word out loud— professed it over a person or a situation and then found yourself, soon thereafter, being tested on the very thing you declared to others? Well, I’ve been in this situation many times and still failed miserably recently when put to the test. Over the last couple of months, God has revealed things to me about my heart and the things that are still residing there. I am generally a pleasant person. I'm kind, fun, and I love to laugh. I love quiet time with the Lord, and I love to steal away to myself and just be with me, and I also love spending time with my family and friends. I love walking and exercising. I know this sounds like an E-Harmony or Christian Mingle profile but stay with me. My point is that I have a pretty peaceful lifestyle that lends itself to promoting the good qualities in my character. I don’t have a lot of drama. I faithfully serve those within my sphere, those I can reach. Although I get really busy sometimes, I find it very fulfilling. God's grace helps me to balance well. I don’t have many reasons to really be mad or upset about anything. I appreciate my life; it is good. I live in my own Christian household where I make the rules, I attend a Christian University every day of the week where we have an authentic and fruitful time of devotion to the Lord before every class, I am surrounded by people of faith, and I go to church on Sundays. My mom and I talk about the Lord every day. When anyone does start to get on my nerves, I either "exit, stage left" or bring the call to an end. I have no problem ignoring text messages that don't warrant a response and I don't feel obliged to do anything for anyone that God has not called me to do. There’s no reason for me not to be my best self at this point in my life. Who among us can't be our best self when all is well? I pretty much have a lifestyle now where all is well MOST of the time. It hasn’t always been that way, but it is now, and I praise God for the opportunity to live this way. The problem is this: I have become unaware of what’s in my heart because I have not been provoked in a long time, or, as my brother says, I have not had much "friction." God has brought me to the place where anyone who had been able to provoke me lost that power over me, so I thought I was good. Surely, if these people can’t get under my skin anymore, no one can. I have been set free from all of that anger, so I thought.
Well, when someone decided to harm someone close to me, who was unable to defend themselves, the rage in me erupted. In heated moments, while in defense of my loved one, words, expressions, and sentiments came forth from me that I thought were gone. These bad words flowed from my mouth toward an aggressor as if the last twenty-four years of walking with the Lord had never been. Of course, I prayed and received forgiveness afterwards and asked my friends to pray for me as well, but I was still baffled and disappointed for a few days . “Lord, how did I not know that all of that was in there?” “What’s wrong with me?”
Over these last few weeks there have been some spiritual attacks on my family and I encouraged my family, reminding them that the real fight is in the spirit and not to expend too much energy on fighting “people” but to take the battle into the prayer closet and to say and do less in the natural realm. When I had to go to court recently and come face to face with the person who harmed my family member, I dressed appropriately for court from the ankles up, but I had on my tennis shoes just in case anything popped off and I had to come to someone’s defense. Now, I have never been in a physical fight in my entire life, though I realize now that I have always been ready for one. I remember only getting into one real argument in Middle School and I was even ready to rumble then. People used to call this “having a chip on your shoulder." I understand that the Lord has given me tenacity and grit. He’s given me the wherewithal to overcome many challenging situations and has stirred up passion in me to defend those who cannot defend themselves—I am a fighter, but I am realizing that my heart has some sinful things in it that are trying to attach to the good things God blessed me with. Through my flesh, those sinful characteristics are trying to intermingle with the right things, the good qualities God placed in me so as to corrupt and pervert them. I won’t allow it.
At court, I was able to speak with and even minister to my "enemy", but everyone in my family did not feel the same way, so there was confrontation. When I reflected on the situation later, the Lord spoke to me. I heard him say to me, clearly, “You went in dressed for a battle in the flesh when you should have spent time in prayer dressing for spiritual battle. That situation would have gone much smoother.” He sent me to my brother Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He wrote, “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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:10-18.
I had preached this to my family in the weeks leading up to the court date. In fact, I had professed this practice over my life and have been encouraging others in this way all year, but, this time, when it was time to put it into practice again, I was all ready to fight in the flesh. Once again, I found myself back at the Lord’s feet asking, “What’s wrong with me? I know better. I don’t have a heart to hurt anyone. Why am I still so angry? Why did I act like that this time, I've been doing so much better in this area? You've brought me so far." I am leaning on the Lord for revelation, understanding, and healing. I am certain that He is exposing these things to me so that I may be delivered and restored in this area-- completely. This is a journey and it is a process and setbacks are humbling.
I accept that I am a fighter in the Spirit. I have been engaging in some serious spiritual warfare over the last several years and God has given me many great victories, but I no longer want to be a fighter in the flesh. No more “hybrid” fighting tactics for me. I long to have a gentle and quiet spirit before the Lord and in the earth and I will continue to press forward in the Lord, heeding His instruction until I am transformed. I’m tired of being battle-ready in the flesh. I am going to allow the Lord to cultivate something new and wonderful in me. I've learned how to rest in Him, but I am starting to understand that my rowdy flesh is causing me to tire out much more frequently than necessary. Imagine being well-rested in the spirit and being able to just visit with the Lord for fellowship instead of so often having to seek Him for encouragement or a recharge. I like the sound of that.
My prayer for myself and for people like me, who find themselves drawn into battles or ready to battle with people far too often, is that we may find restoration and success in dying to our flesh and becoming more like Christ. We don’t know how to do this, but if we ask God to give us a strategy and to show us how to pray and what to do, He will SURELY help us. He is faithful.