Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
The first memory I have of dealing with spiritual warfare was when I was a young teenager. My mom was writing her first Bible studies and our family came under the enemy's attack from every direction. When I take time to think through it all, it seems like something out of a movie - or at least a TV drama. The enemy desperately wanted to - and still wants to - prevent my mom's life from bearing much fruit. He tried all he could to stop her from writing Bible studies that would help women all over the world to know God through His Word.
In the months before Curtis, Jackson and I left Irving, TX (winter of 2008), I entered a season of spiritual warfare that I had never experienced before. I began struggling with tremendous anxiety and destructive dreams every single night. I didn't realize what was going on. I just thought I must have some issues that I needed counseling for, so I made an appointment to see a Christian counselor. The night before my first appointment, I dreamed that a dark spirit flew into my room and touched me on the chest. The next morning I woke up and my chest hurt really bad, but I did not remember the dream. Later, I sat in the counselor's office and described why I had come. She asked if it could be warfare. Suddenly I remembered the dream and it all came together.
Over time that attack eased, but it started up again this year. I've had consistent anxiety and my dreams have become a battlefield. My husband began suffering attacks in his sleep, too. Curtis is the least fearful person I know, yet he began to fear falling asleep. He was not only afraid of nightmares, but of waking up blind and deaf. I'm thankful for that very specific and bizarre fear because it helped us to see that what we were experiencing was a spiritual battle. We've asked many friends to pray for us and I know they have.
I have never felt the heat of the battle more than I have in the last month. Night after night the enemy attacked me in my sleep. I spent my quiet time two Sundays ago broken and weeping on the living room rug. I thank God that I knew exactly which friends I could text in that moment and ask for prayer. They were well aware of my junk, my vulnerabilities, and the way the enemy tends to mess with me. They immediately lifted me up and bore my burdens. I was able to get up from the ash heap get on with our Sunday.
The attacks didn't stop on that day. Curtis began fighting with me in prayer. A friend many states away knew in her spirit that something was up and began praying. I stopped being so shy about who I asked to pray for me because I was totally desperate for this to end. I did not know how I could carry on under the weight of it. A couple of times, while telling a friend what I was going through, I heard a voice whisper, You can't tell that. You're a pastor's wife. For a minute I believed that ugly voice but it took a half a second to figure out whose it was. I believe the enemy wanted to keep me from telling on him. His attack was weakened when it was exposed and when the saints prayed.
This Sunday morning I woke up and sensed in my spirit that God had given me victory over my enemy. That specific battle was over. My Savior had said Enough! and the accuser was silenced. The heaviness was gone.
I praise God for giving me the grace not to drown in the tidal wave. Jesus was faithful to remind me that I was justified before Him. No matter what the enemy wanted me to believe about myself, His blood covers me. His Spirit dwells in my core. I'm so grateful to my amazing friends who held me up when my feet were slipping. They listened to me and believed me.
Last winter I took some girlfriends to a conference called Intimate Issues with Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus. One thing I learned - and will never forget - was an illustration of temptation. Picture that you are walking down a long hall toward a specific temptation. At first the hallways on both sides are big sliding-glass doors. You could get out very easily. But as you go along they become regular windows. They open, but not as easily as doors. You could still get out, but it would take a little more effort. Down a little farther the windows start getting smaller. The next ones are narrow and more far apart. Getting out of this hallway wouldn't be so easy now. Finally, you realize you are getting very, very close to destruction, but now your way of escape is beyond your reach. The window is so high and so small that someone is going to have to hoist you up and maybe even give you a shove to get you out.
At that point, will you ask for help or will you take the last steps toward destruction?
Is that not a chilling thing to imagine?
Ladies, we must ask for help. Whether we're being tempted and we're walking closer and closer to destruction, or whether we're suffering under the enemy's attack and we don't know how much more we can take, we need to ask for help. I'm not saying it will bring an immediate end to the trials we're going through, but there is protection in letting those close to us know what's going on.
This has been a very humbling time for me, no doubt. But the spoils of war that I'm holding onto today are increased faith - which is of greater worth than gold, the readiness to pray for those who are enduring the same trials, and love for my mighty and merciful Savior.
These are some of the verses Curtis preached on last Sunday, which is the day God told me He had given me victory over my enemy. Surely this was no coincidence.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.