“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Satan is clever. He is sly, and smooth, and cynical. Satan is patient. He waits calm, and quiet, and still. Satan is smart. He is crafty, and tricky, and subtle. It’s almost been a full month since I have posted last. Can you believe that?–a month. When I began this blog, I was posting every single day. Heck, I was so eager to write and to share, I was writing 3 to 4 posts a day, and saving them so that they could slowly filter out. I was on fire! Passionate, burning, uncontrollable. Obsessed.
Have you been there? Riding strong on a spiritual high? Invincible in His grace. Unashamed and impossible to silence? Thirsty for the Word and nourished by devotion. Obsessed? God fills your thoughts, He fills your time, He fills your mind. Every decision you make is decidedly executed with Christ in mind. Every word spoken is delicately selected and the words pour from you with energy and passion and joy. There is a light-heartedess in your spirit. There is a curiosity and a desire and an eagerness to learn and to share. You scoff at your old ways, baffled by how you could have ever been tempted by that which was earthly–how you could have ever been so naive. Committed to living for Christ–committed to maintaining this sprinter’s pace and committed to being the absolute best example you can be for your friends, your family, your co-workers. Committed to being different.
Then 6 months pass and you find yourself in an uncommon moment. A moment of free time in your crazy schedule–a moment of quiet time that you typically would have filled up with another check off the “to-do” list. But in that moment you take the offered breather and you think…life is still on course. It is comfortable, steady, placid. You flip through the elements of your “world”. Work…school…family…finances…schedules…vacations…boyfriends, girlfriends…sports……………faith. Hmm, faith. Well you went to church a few Sundays ago. You prayed a few times when your best friend’s mom was sick. You tossed a few coins in that homeless man’s cup. You wrapped up all of your emails with a “God Bless!” Oh, and you posted a few Bible verses on facebook and Twitter. You let your mind wander, you feel that guilt start to boil up, you list off mental excuses and exceptions. Then you rationalize that you will read your Bible more often. You’ll go to church this Sunday. You’ll start praying every night again.
Have you been there? Be honest. Are you there right now?
I’m ashamed. Ashamed because I know Satan is smiling. In a swift six months he has done it again. He has slowly and steadily weaseled his way between myself and my King. I know what you’re probably thinking–“Oh my gosh, she’s about to tell us that she cracked. She had to have broken her ‘Kissless ‘Till Next Christmas vow. She didn’t make it! She…” Take a deep breath. All is well. I am still going strong on the intimacy fast. In fact, stronger than strong! Yes, the first few months were tough, but we serve a fantastic King. And He lifted that temptation and pressure with ease. So no, I haven’t struggled with the intimacy element of the fast, but I have allowed Satan to sit down at the table and deal his hand of cards.
Just so you know, I’m choosing to share this next portion with you, because I want you to see just how human I am. Ever since I began this journey, I’ve received so many messages and comments challenging my position. I think people, especially young people my age, have been so confused as to why I would ever start an intimacy fast.–For God? Are you crazy? You’re a senior in college. What are you trying to prove? Who do you think you’re better than? Oh man, you must just be the perfect Christian. You’ve got that whole God thing figured out, huh? Guess you’re ‘Holier than Thou’. Bible-thumper. Jesus Freak. Blah…blah…blah…–You name it, I’ve heard it. And while it breaks my heart that people are so apt to put up walls so quickly, I hope some people can come to understand that I’m just as human as everyone else. My walk is filled with just as many ups and downs. My relationship with Christ is filled with just as much confusion, and inconsistency, and challenges.
Case in point: the place I’m at right this moment. The other day an executive producer from Fox flew in to spend the day filming me so that they could show my story on an episode of “The Real Winning Edge”, a nationally-syndicated, Christian-based television program that runs on their network. Holy cow. That is a big deal for a number of reasons: #1. It was overwhelmingly humbling that they wanted to tell my story. I’m still so incredibly honored to have even been a part of their production. #2. A CHRISTIAN-BASED television program on a major network like FOX? That’s rare. So rare. And so special. #3. This was a project with a great deal of money invested into it, and it was all for the glory of God. All three of those things still boggle my mind. And the reason I explain it all is so that you can appreciate how rare, how special, and how divine this whole production truly was. A once-in-a-lifetime type opportunity. How could anyone be anything but overjoyed to be a part of something like that?
I wasn’t. I woke up that morning irritable, cranky, hateful, and shrewd. My precious mom had flown all the way in from Georgia to help me throughout the day, and from the moment I woke up I was nothing but short with her. We had a production schedule that was so jam-packed there was hardly a moment to breath, and this was a day that needed to go off without a hitch. I was bloated, I was stuffed-up, I was hot, my skin was breaking out in rashes, I was miserable. Throughout that morning, I was able to put on a smile for the producer and crew, but anytime I got behind a closed door or alone with my mom, I turned into a monster. Everything was going wrong, we were off-schedule from the start, and I was as cruel as cruel comes. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I felt so terrible. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I was so hostile and irritable, and filled with empty tears. The best way I can describe it is to say that I felt like I was about to explode. I was at a breaking point….
Right before lunch, my mom sat me down on an empty couch we found while we were waiting for the crew to gather their equipment. Without saying much, she simply took my hands and began to pray. My mom must have prayed over me for 4 or 5 minutes, but time seemed to pause. As I heard her intently and diligently praying words of simple beauty and earnest request, I found myself in that “moment” I mentioned at the beginning of this post–a moment of stillness and peace that I hadn’t experienced in far too long. When had my passion softened? Where had my enthusiasm and spirit and energy been hidden? Was it beneath my heavy summer school load? Had I overshadowed my eager faith with the complications of my crazy schedule? When was it that I allowed my time to be filled in front of the TV at night, rather than in the Word?
I realized that Satan had been sneaky. He had been slow and subtle and sly, as he usual tends to be. As the months had passed since the beginning of the year, Satan had been patient. He had slowly and purposefully distracted me, simple moments at a time, from growth in my faith. It started with missing my quiet time in the Word, one night, because I was simply a little too tired. Next, it was putting off posting on my blog, because I had a school assignment I had procrastinated on. Then, missing church, too exhausted from workouts throughout the week to pass up sleeping in just one day. Little things became often things. Often things became regular things. Regular things became forgotten things. And six months later I found myself weak enough to be vulnerable to attack.
Have we not all experienced it? Mountain-top spiritual moments, followed by gradual valleys in our faith. Too busy, too tired, too tempted. I found myself weakened to a dangerous point on that special day, a day I typically would have rejoiced in, made the most of, and celebrated for Christ. On that special day–a day dedicated to the glory of God–a day specifically devoted to sharing the gospel and sharing how our magnificent King has moved in my life–a day perfectly constructed to inspire and teach and love–Satan attacked. I was overwhelmed by a spiritual warfare and under absolute attack. You see, Satan knows how to hit us the hardest. He knows where we hurt the most. For me, when he bullies me, he doesn’t aim to affect anything around me–he goes straight for my body. He attacks my health first. My body has always manifested grief and stress physically. I get sick, I get hives, I run fever. I battle nausea, my skin blisters, my stomach nots. He loves to toy with my body, he always has. And he knows how ill I truly become. Then, he attacks my emotions–capitalizing on my resting depression, capitalizing on my quick irritability and my trauma-proned anxiety. He wraps me up in my own head, distracts me with myself, and laughs as I weaken.
You see, that’s how Satan works. He slides in, inch by inch, when we allow our lives to run us. He waits, patiently, gradually distracting us. He takes small opportunities, wins small battles in our spirits, and then when he deems fit, overwhelms us and wins us back. He makes us feel like we’ve fallen too far. He makes us feel like if we go crawling back now, asking for forgiveness, God would surely judge us. Others would surely judge us. We’d slipped up yet again, surely we’re out of chances.
WRONG! So wrong. So fantastically wrong. Don’t let yourself believe Satan’s lies. Don’t let yourself get tangled up in guilt! As my mom prayed over me, I literally felt a cloak of anxiety, depression, fatigue, heat, weight…lift completely off of my back. And where the nasty cloak lifted, a cool and reviving stream tickled up my spine. An assuring, comforting, loving GRACE blanketed me in peace. With the freedom from that cloak, a fresh page was turned. I was breathed new life, literally relieved from attack. Do you understand? God never tires of turning that fresh page for you. Guilt, depression, anxiety, hatred…these are all things of Satan. These are all things that God yearns to relieve us from! Jesus Christ died on the cross for our souls so that God can turn a new page every single time we come to Him. The rest of that day I was alleviated from my angst. Rejuvenated, positive, and able to rejoice in the purpose of the moment. My mom’s tiny hands and heart-felt prayers packed more punch than Satan could ever handle. How? Because she called on the Holy Spirit. She prayed to a God that makes Satan look like a chump. She prayed to a God who assures us that no task is too big or too small for Him to overcome. She prayed to a God who yearns to hear our prayers and to work through us. Through those simple, sweet hands, she silenced Satan and freed me from an attack that had been in the works for months.
You guys, I stumble. I stumble and fall and stumble again. I let Satan get in the way. I let my schedule get in the way. I’m dismissive to conviction and I ignore God, daily. But, you guys, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Runners in marathons need fuel–FUEL YOUR HEARTS WITH SERVICE FOR OTHERS. Runners need water–HYDRATE YOUR SPIRIT WITH CONSTANT PRAYER. Runners need rest–REST IN THE WORD OF GOD! Serve. Pray. Read. I often have to remind myself, that I am literally filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is literally living in me. What’s impossible? Nothing. What can’t be overcome? Nothing. Satan is good at waging war. He will be patient and take small battles. The only thing preventing us from freeing ourselves from his grip is OURSELVES. Set aside time, set aside pride, set aside self.
Be revitalized! God is ready to turn your page and reignite your passion, too.
Be still. Know that He is God. Know that HE has overcome the world…
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12