See the Battle

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

For the last several weeks, there has been a battle going on in my home. I have been mentally and emotionally exhausted from the constant fighting, arguing, policing of my two sons. I know all siblings fight, I know boys can be extra destructive and aggressive at times. This was not that. I am overwhelmed with working from home while trying to parent and navigating the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. I am anxious about the school year, knowing it will be unlike any other before it. I am angry at the powers that be who are dictating what school will be allowed to look like, with so little consideration for those who do not have the option to homeschool full time. I am frustrated with child support checks that either don’t show up at all or bounce after I deposit them. My life feels like a battleground, because it is. But this is not just a battle against hard circumstances.

We are in a spiritual battle. It is all around us, all the time. Sometimes it fades into the background and you hardly even notice it, other times we are on the frontlines and have to fight for our survival.

I should have seen this recent battle coming. After all, I did just have a victory a few weeks ago.

As I stood in that courtroom, with as much bravery and courage I could muster, I fought for my children. I fought for their safety and protection. God stood with me. Truth was seen and heard by the court. It was denied/minimized by the abuser, but in the end we had victory! Now there are court orders in place to protect my babies. Their visitations are reduced to once a month and must be under the eyes of a supervisor. Hallelujah praise the Lord! Relief washed over our household. Joy with grief all mixed together, for this is just not how life is supposed to be.

But victories always bring new battles in the spiritual realms. The dark forces of this world will stop at nothing to try and devour and destroy God’s children. The wounds inflicted onto my sons cut deep. The constant rejection they face from their own father, the lies and manipulations they have to navigate confuse and anger them. Is it any wonder my home is fraught with tension and emotional outbursts and sibling conflict? Is it any wonder that anxiety has taken root? Am I really surprised by this?

When I take my eyes off of Christ, even for a moment, my world starts sinking. All I can see is the darkness, the depression that is trying to steal one son, the anger that is trying to burn the other. All I can feel is scared for their futures. All I can think is how I have failed them, how I should have protected them sooner, better. Will they turn out like their father? Will addictions and entitlement rule their lives? Will they understand and live by God’s word, full of empathy and convictions? Will they end up entrenched in a Narcissistic Personality Disorder from which there is little hope of recovery?

Tears have flown freely, almost daily, for weeks. But yesterday my perspective changed. In the midst of the fight to survive, I forgot about the spiritual forces at war. This battle is not about the children just not loving each other enough. It is not about feeling insecure about the future. It is about Satan not wanting us to have victory. It is about Him trying to steal our hope our focus. It is about His lies and manipulations trying to overtake us. As long as he can keep us distracted, he wins. Distracted followers of Christ are ineffective for the kingdom.

Realization of this hit me like a ton of bricks as I was driving the kids to their various appointments. We stopped everything and prayed together. I reminded the children who the real enemy is here. It is not each other, the government, the virus, or even their father. The enemy is Satan, who makes no secret of his contempt for us, his relentless pursuit of us. Each child repented for sinful behavior, asked for God’s protection and forgiveness. I repented for taking my eyes off the truth and letting myself become distracted. We prayed against the forces of depression, addiction, hopelessness, anger and fear. It was as if my compass got restored and my life came into perspective again. After our prayers, a calm came over us. My frustrations at them dissipated. The rest of the day went much much smoother. I am amazed at how quickly I feel disoriented, scared and angry when I take my eyes off the real battle, even for just a few weeks or even days.

I am praying that our eyes stay open, that our hearts stay engaged and encouraged. The battles raging against Christianity, against morals, against unity are in full swing all around the world. Hate seems to be escalating, chaos is abounding. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, disgusted and scared when we see all this evil in the world. But I challenge you, to see the real battle. This is a battle for peoples souls. We are to be a light in the world of darkness. How can we be a light if we are too distracted from God’s word, God’s truth. How can we be a light if we let fear reign? See the forces at work, see the way distraction from Christ derails your sense of peace. See the real battle….after all we are fighting along side the one who already has claimed the victory! And that alone is reason for hope, joy and peace.

A Field of Hope

A field, covered in rich dark soil, ready for a life of beauty and color. Seeds of wildflowers sprinkled into the dirt, watered, bathed in sunlight, begin to grow.

The flowers begin their  journey of rising to the surface. The water in the ground feeds the roots and give the plants strength. Finally, the flowers reach their faces to the sun,  blooms beginning to open as they feel the warmth of the light. Rejoicing in their potential and hoping to share their joy with the world.

While the flowers anticipate the warmth and glory of blooming, other plants start to appear close by. The flowers, unsuspecting, welcome the plants as friends, hoping to share the warmth with them. The flowers, full of love to give, give too much. The weeds grow too close, they loom over the flowers, blocking the sun and it’s warmth. They steal the water from the ground and create a dark shadow over the flowers.

The flowers try to reason with the weeds, to reassure them that there is enough space for all of them to grow and flourish. The weeds mock the flowers and their beauty, calling them weak and insignificant. They thrive as they deplete the flowers of all hope and joy, all color and luster for life.

Soon the field is covered in weeds, chocking out any life besides it’s own.  Overtaking, overgrowing, delighting in their cleverness and strength.

But the farmer sees the field and burns with anger at the weeds. He has compassion on the flower and longs to see it’s beauty.

Diligently, carefully, he gets on his knees and pulls the weeds out from the soil. He removes one at a time, being careful to not let any seeds fall between his fingers.

He smooths out the soil and waters the flowers, encouraging them to not give up. He speaks to the flowers, in a gentle, kind voice.

Timid and afraid, shaken and broken, the flowers resist at first. They cower and refuse to look into the light, ashamed at their weakness, ashamed of their colorless blooms and wilted leaves. Still the farmer tends to them. Nothing but love is poured out over them. Slowly, meekly, the flowers turn their faces to the voice. They drink in the farmers words and soak up his water.

Little by little they gain strength, the color returns to their blossoms. They dare to hope for a joy they had once had, a joy that had vanished in the shadows.

The farmer, is vigilant in his protection over his flowers, yet weeds continue to try and take root, they threaten to overtake the field while promising to change and share the space.

But now, girded with love and truth, the flowers resist the weeds. They do not cower or shake or give over their field. They have overcome the shadows, they have seen the goodness of the farmer and put their trust in His provision. They keep their faces pointing towards the sun, knowing that the sun is their strength, their courage and their life.

The farmer has given the flowers everything they need to flourish, bloom, and bring joy to the world. What once was  field of darkness, is now a field of beauty. A field of hope.

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

(For those of you who didn’t pick up on the imagery…. The field is life, new life, filled with wonder and hope. The flowers are your soul, your heart, your mind. The Sun is Christ, who gives strength and warmth. The weeds are lies, toxic people ripping you down, the farmer is God the Father, protecting and providing. The water is the Holy Spirit, nurturing, guiding, refreshing your soul. )