Tag Archives: enemy

Who am I?

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'” – Exodus 3:11

This was Moses’s response to God when He called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the first of several creative excuses or arguments as to why he wasn’t qualified, ending with a raw and honest plea for God to pick another…anyone but him.

“Pardon your servant Lord, but please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13)

This past Sunday I stood up in front of our little congregation at church and taught about these verses. About God’s call to Moses; about Exodus 3:1-4:19. I went through each verse and discussed the importance of trusting God’s plan, remembering that God will use us for His purposes, even if we don’t feel qualified. We examined how Moses let his fear and self-doubt almost lead to missing his calling. I encouraged everyone who would listen not to let fear get in the way of answering God’s call. I reminded my church family that it’s not about us and our qualifications, but about God’s plan, His power, and His presence.

I have a special place in my heart for this section of scripture. And I believe every word I said.

But then Monday came. And I found myself alone in my bedroom, sobbing, feeling inadequate, less-than, and incapable. I asked God if He is really calling me into ministry; is that really His plan? And if it is, am I really equipped for that call? Who am I to stand before others and teach them Your word?

I know this routine well by now, having taught a handful of Sunday services and leading a few women’s retreats. It’s what I refer to as the “day after attack.”

When I speak or teach I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and in that moment it feels palpable and beautiful, like God is doing something big and letting me be a part of it. But then Monday morning comes. And I return to my normal routine, working my normal job, packing normal lunches, looking at my normal reflection staring back at me in the mirror.

And the enemy whispers in my ear: who are you? What makes you think you are qualified to teach others? I recall the yawns and bored looks during my talk. I remember the surprised expression on the neighbor’s face when they found out I was teaching at church (you know the kind of surprise that says “what are they thinking?” not “isn’t that wonderful!”). I recount every person or article that’s declared women aren’t supposed to preach God’s word. I play back the recording of my message and cringe at every “ummm” and “uhhh”, seeing every flaw, hearing every flub.

And the enemy says, “See? You are not very good. You are not anything special.”

I think of all the practical reasons I cannot answer this call. I need seminary training. That costs money. I’m still paying off that Master’s Degree in Marketing and Communication, a degree I’ll never use if I go into ministry. I have a family to support, kids to put through school. We love our town, we can’t move just so I can go to school. Maybe in a few years…maybe when the kids are out of the house….maybe.

And the enemy says, “You’ll never be ready for this. You are just a middle-aged woman who wishes she was being called to serve God in some big way, but that is not your life.”

I am not equipped. Please, Lord, will you call someone else? Someone smarter, stronger, younger, older, richer, better?

And then the irony of this day-after beat-down by Satan and my own insecurities strikes me. I can’t even go 24 hours without succumbing to the very thing I just encouraged 45 other people to resist.

There is one thing that gives me hope, though. The fact that God never gave up on Moses. Even after he tried to deny his call five times, even though he was 80 years old, God still used Moses for the good of His plan. Even though Moses didn’t speak well and needed his brother’s help, even though Moses got overwhelmed when the Israelites complained and fought, God still used Moses to lead His people. Even though Moses lost his temper, even though he continued to questioned God’s plan along the way, God still spoke to Moses. He still loved Moses.

I know I’m not equipped to do anything. And, honestly? I don’t know exactly how God plans to use me. But I cling to the knowledge that He will use me in His time, according to His purpose.

He will never give up on me.

Finding protection against spiritual warfare

Humbling (verb) – 1. to make meek; ex. to humble one’s heart.
2. to destroy the independence, power or will of.

Humbling.

That’s the word that sums up the last three weeks of my life.

The interesting thing about being humbled is it can be both a positive feeling and an unfavorable one. I’ve had both.

God has done some amazingly big things in my life the last few weeks — guiding me through leading my first women’s retreat, my first public speaking opportunities, and calling me to travel half-way across the U.S. to serve a hurting, struggling population that our country has forgotten. The way God can use us for His purpose, the way He has used me the last few weeks has been humbling in a good way. A way that reminds me that He is omnipotent and worthy of the highest praise. Like the first definition, He has humbled my heart with gentility and meekness.

On the flip side, some pretty difficult things have happened the last few weeks. Challenges at work and with my kids; attacks on my marriage and on my health. It’s been humbling…but more in the sense of the second definition. A feeling that my independence and will have been destroyed.

While God will humble our hearts and make us meek, He does not set-out to destroy us. That is the work of the enemy; and it’s been abundantly clear that Satan has been on the attack in my life and some of those around me.

Spiritual warfare
Growing up in the church spiritual warfare was not a term I recall hearing, and even the concept of  “an enemy” was a bit abstract, to say the least. As I entered young adulthood conversations by other Christians referring to attacks from Satan made me a bit uncomfortable, as I wasn’t sure what I believed here. I put these thoughts away in a corner cabinet, along with topics like speaking in tongues, intercession, the entire book of Revelation, and anything else that my narrow Protestant view struggled to understand (and please know this is not a statement against the Protestant church, just that my exposure to these topics and ability to process them was limited).

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen first-hand that spiritual warfare is very real. It took me years to be able to identify this and understand the difference between normal every-day struggles and full-on attacks of the enemy. And it took even longer for me to feel comfortable speaking about this to others and learning how to identify when it was happening.

If you grew up in a more traditional or conservative church like I did, this may be an unfamiliar or uncomfortable topic…but it’s so important that as Christians we are able to identify when this is happening so we can strengthen our defenses and draw closer to God for help, instead of letting the enemy pull us further away with doubt and hurt.

One pattern I have identified is that when God is doing big work in your life or community, the enemy goes on the attack. Is your church having a season of growth and expansion? Don’t be surprised if conflict arises within your leadership team. Are you starting up a new ministry? Watch out for unexpected set-backs or opposition. Helping to lead people to Christ?  Be prepared for attacks in your personal life.

I don’t mean this to sound alarmist or to deter people from following God’s call in their life. In fact, quite the opposite. If we are able to identify spiritual warfare and call it out for what it is, then we are able to pray for God’s protection and not let the enemy’s attacks divide us from God or from each other.

Ephesians 6:10

I once heard a talk by author and speaker Lynn Cowell and she shared how every time she was about to speak in front of a big group, there was a guaranteed attack from the enemy on her family. Whether is was conflict in her house, gossip about her children, or other challenges, it had happened so many times she and her husband began to identify it for what it was. It didn’t necessarily make it less stressful or difficult to face these attacks, but at least by being able to identify and prepare for them, they were able to face them together as a family, instead of letting it divide them, or deter Lynn from her ministry.

I won’t lie, the last few weeks have been a challenge. I thought about cancelling my women’s retreat. I fought with my husband and my kids. I let stress from work tear me down emotionally, and I considered backing out of the mission trip I leave for tomorrow. But in my moments of weakness I was able to discern God’s voice and see what was really happening, and that enabled me to pray for protection and strength.

While the enemy may be capable of humbling me in all the wrong ways — to destroy my will and power — I must remember he does not have the authority over God’s will nor is he a match for the power of God’s protection.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)

God will call you to serve Him in mighty ways, and do things that will humble your heart.

The enemy will try to sabotage God’s plans. But if we remain watchful, remembering that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil,”  and put on God’s armor, the enemy will not prevail.

Are you feeling under attack from the enemy? I offer up this prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, no one knows the cunning, hateful ways of the enemy better than you. Satan despises all that you intend for good and he will use any means necessary to try and interrupt your good works. I feel his attack and it has weakened my resolve, brought chaos into my life, and at times caused me to turn away from You and those I love. But You are more powerful than anything he might throw at me. You will not be defeated by his evil schemes. God protect me. Arm me for this battle. Teach me to wear your Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, and Salvation like armor. Show me how to fight, not with my own merits or strength, but with the power of your word and the protection of the Holy Spirit. Amen.