My New Year started off quite hellish. Never mind the fact that obnoxious fireworks blared through the night well past midnight while me and my family and two children under three, tried to sleep and our terrified dog couldn’t control her bladder.
Then, when I finally get out of bed in the morning, baby number two is crying and screaming, and hubby and me are failing miserably at consoling him. So I decide to give our tantrum/tired/sick one-day-away-from-one-year-old a container of hot cocoa powder to play with. He drops it. It spills. Good, high quality, brand new, unopened, never-before-tasted organic hot cocoa powder is now in a huge heap on the floor, and soon, baby boy is cranky pants again. I salvage less than half of the goods, and once he’s calm, I decide to make some hot cocoa for big-brother-not-yet-three-years-old. I ask him to drink it at the table, thinking that’s more spill-safe, but I was wrong. He knocks it over and it spills everywhere; on the table, on the floor, on the walls. But it gets better. As I’m cleaning yet another mess, baby number two is nearby. The thought crosses my mind that he must not get to the spilled hot cocoa on the floor. He’s what I thought was a good distance away, but like flipping Flash, he’s suddenly on all fours, crawling in the chocolatey liquid and then splats, face-planting into the stuff. He flops over and is screaming while wallowing in it. And now big brother is crying himself to sleep, resisting a nap, about to wake up his already sleeping baby brother.
Well, that’s how our New Year began. It was an unusually rough morning and afternoon. But me and hubby both came to the same conclusion; it’s a reminder that we are in a spiritual war.
There’s a serious battle raging in the heavenly realms and we, my friends, are the center of it. We are the goal, we are the prize for either side, and both want us. God wants to rescue us, Satan wants to destroy us and the battle is vicious, and bloody, and cruel, and in fact, way worse than a supremely stressful morning and afternoon with two toddlers.
I was giving Satan a foothold with my anger. With big brother pestering little brother and all the messes I had to clean while being myself sleep deprived among other things, I was definitely upset. And one blow after another, I wasn’t the most graceful. However, before the chocolate attack, I closed the bedroom door and prayed. I asked God for forgiveness and repented for my angry attitude and impatience. And right after that, the cocoa powder and liquid form of it spills everywhere and baby has a tantrum. I know it was a test. And I did better, thanks to the Holy Spirit. But we don’t always see frustrating circumstances as tests that grow us, that burn away the sinfulness and the ungodliness in our lives and refine us into something more beautiful. We just think about how annoying the problems are and stay there.
I don’t know how your New Years played out, but I do know this, no matter how good, or bad, we Christians have an enemy lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce or fire flaming arrows. We are always hated, even though we are also always loved. But God is on our side, and He gives us weapons to combat this vile villain. We aren’t helpless victims. We aren’t weak. But we can be ignorant. And it’s our ignorance that leads us to defeat.
Before the second stress wave hit, I took up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word–rhema–of God. It’s literally the “utterance” of God’s word. I proclaimed out loud the truth that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. It helped me overcome the first battle, but then in the midst of the second, did I take up the rhema, the sword of truth to combat the onslaught? Nope. Instead, I declared my own angry words: “This is a test!” I repeated that phrase several times and a few different ways, but I did not declare the truth of God’s word, like how Jesus did in Luke 4 when the devil was trying to tempt him. Did Jesus come up with his own clever phrases, or declare his opinion about what he thought was going on? Nope. He simply quoted–out loud–the Scripture. Whatever divinely inspired truth applied, He spoke it and immediately after each time, that lie was cut down and the devil moved on to another one until after the third strike, he retreated altogether “until another opportune time.”
I’m just learning and putting to practice this weapon we’ve been given in Ephesians 6. I obviously still forget to wield it at times, but when I remember, I win, and the devil flees.
So that’s my encouragement to you. Start off the New Year with this resolution:
I won’t gripe my way through battles anymore, but I’ll fight through them, using the only effective and efficient and most powerful weapon I’ve been given: the rhema “spoken word” of God.
This New Year, fight on, soldier. Fight on.