behind enemy lies
Rough, grainy sand wiggled its way into my shoe as we walked along the shore at Lake Tahoe. Nothing like the white, powdery-smooth sand of tropical getaways, I suddenly understood how the term “sandpaper” got its name.
The grains snuck their way past the barrier of my sock and immediately into the blister on my heel, rubbing raw skin and inflicting pain. Their mission wasn’t high-minded, but sinister—they came to wreak havoc.
While catching up with my wise friend Michael last week, he told me that the more we step boldly into our God-given identities and purposes, the more we experience spiritual attack.
Boy, have I found this to be true lately.
If there’s two things Satan hates, it’s us living in freedom and fulfilling our purposes—He’ll do anything to stop those things from happening.
Stepping into my passion of writing has felt to me like a “one step forward, two steps backward” kind-of process. When I first started this blog, I was scared, unsure, and questioned whether I had anything of value to share. But moving forward even in that uncertainty, and keeping at it with consistency allowed me to grow in confidence, becoming more comfortable with putting myself out there as I began to develop my voice.
Still, there are days I find myself right there back at square one, feeling small and unimportant, wondering how my words could possibly make a difference in a world so full of them. And those days usually happen when, if only for a moment, I take my eyes off Jesus and the path that He has me on. Maybe it’s a glance to the right at what’s happening in that person’s life, or a glance to the left at other bloggers and authors, wondering how I could ever measure up.
This shift in focus, no matter how slight, it opens a door, and through that door slips whispered lies, settling into unassuming crevices of my heart. Only, I often don’t realize they’re lies at first. It’ll start as a feeling, maybe some spiral of anxiety, or an infestation of fear. I’ll trace the feeling back to its thought origin, birthed from some area of untruth within. What I find often sounds something like this:
Why do you even bother? What you have to say isn’t important. You’ll never be as “good” as the person over there.
Just like the sand slipping past my sock, these lies seep into my tender spots and they have a mission.
Their mission is to silence and suppress.
And some moments, they succeed.
The thing is, God has a purpose for each one of us, to magnify His name and further His Kingdom on this earth. The more we embody that purpose, the more of a threat it is to the enemy, and he’ll work relentlessly to oppose us at every turn. He’ll try to make us doubt, and believe we’re not good enough. He’ll try to keep us hidden, paralyzed by fear.
Unfortunately it’s much easier to recognize a spiritual attack once it’s subsided. Satan is most successful when he can paralyze us, yet blind us to the possibility of thinking it could be him who’s at work. In the moment of attack it feels so real, so true. That’s because the enemy knows exactly where our triggers are, precisely our pinpoints of insecurity.
Michael shared with me that when Scripture talks about “weapons being formed against us,” that is to say that the weapon had been skillfully and intentionally crafted against us by the enemy. That, “You’ll know when the deceiver is talking to you because it'll be directly aimed at the areas where growth is occurring the most, a.k.a. the vulnerable places.” The reason the lies feel like reality in the moment of attack is because the crafty one is touching on areas where we already doubt ourselves.
The enemy’s accusations aren’t so much about who we’ve been, but who we could be.
Who we could be scares him, and it should.
I spent Memorial Day weekend last month celebrating my longtime friend, Katie, as she prepared to say “I do” to her longtime love. We lounged in a cabin on Lake Tahoe, laughed and played games; danced and dined. But what made the weekend so special was the amount of attention Katie’s sister had poured into planning. My favorite detail was the line of embellished trucker hats waiting for us when we entered the cabin, different in color but unified in message: Team Bride.
Each of us there, we were all on Katie’s team.
In the thick of lies, sometimes telling myself the truth simply isn’t enough. I must invite others in to do the same. Teammates are the trusted ones who fight with me and remind me who I am. When the enemy wants me to shrink back from who God created me to be and the purposes He has for me, teammates speak truth to spur me on towards my true identity.
You see, walking along Tahoe’s Nevada shore for Katie’s bachelorette, when the sand was scraping my heal, the only way to stop the devastation it was causing was to first remove my shoe, exposing the grains of sand.
The accusations of the enemy run rampant in the confines of our mind, but the light makes them lose some of their power. Speaking them out loud, whether to a trusted friend or even to ourselves, allows us to rebuke them and label them as lies.
When we do this, we expose what felt so real for what it really was: a scheme of the enemy.
The Bible tells us we will face spiritual opposition (Ephesians 6:12), and we need to be strategic in the way we combat it, because the attacks themselves are very strategic.
Behind enemy lies is a strategically pre-meditated action plan, and weapons masterfully crafted with our unique weak spots and areas of vulnerability in mind.
I’m learning to be vigilant in the way I fight, with Scripture, and by inviting in friends who will pray, and tell truth.
Believing the truth of what God says about me over the lies of this world is a moment-by-moment decision. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and sometimes I just wish it were easy. But I’m learning that each time I go to battle by telling myself the truth of God’s Word, the better I get at fighting. Little by little, my spiritual muscles are being built.
I used to think that if I asked God for strength, He would instantly make me strong. I know now that instead, He gives me circumstances that compel me to build strength.
Every single one of us has been given a purpose, to magnify the name of Jesus and further His Kingdom on this earth. Satan will do anything he can to make us doubt that, to dampen our passion and make us despondent. But let’s not let him. Instead, let’s step boldly into the things that make us come alive, even when they scare us. Because fear is never from God, but Satan, and if anything his opposition is evidence that we are being used by God.
Behind enemy lies is an insidious desire to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), but the power of God is stronger still and He promises that no weapon formed against us shall prevail (Isaiah 54:17).