Two friends and I host a weekly podcast on various spiritual topics. Last month we planned to discuss (I kid you not), How to Recognize Spiritual Assault. Schedule conflicts and illness forced us to cancel our two previous podcasts. We didn’t want to call off a third.
To complicate matters, one of my friends was still under the weather, the other was swamped with work, and I had a longstanding 6:00 pm dinner date with out-of-town friends. I planned to leave the dinner at 7:30 to make our 8:00 call.
That was the situation four hours before the podcast. This is the story that followed:
- Late in the afternoon, my wife and I had a tense discussion. I missed much of my podcast planning time, leaving me irritated, distracted, and unprepared.
- Our dinner reservation was changed from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, leaving me little time for conversation with friends, and even less time for food.
- The closest parking spot was several dozen blocks from the restaurant, and I arrived five minutes late.
- As I left the restaurant, a torrential downpour greeted me, and I splashed and waded the six blocks back to my car.
- Three different traffic jams—three!—delayed me further. I arrived home with two minutes to spare, soaking wet, and freezing. And further irritated, distracted and unprepared.
I began the call in a frenzied, intense, and distracted state of mind. Do you recognize the frontlines of the spiritual assault?
It’s Not What We Normally Think
When I later reviewed that story with a friend, he exclaimed, “Whenever I speak on spiritual warfare, the same stuff happens to me: my wife and I get into a fight, my car breaks down, the sound system shorts out, and I’m an emotional wreck. We’ve got to pray against Satan’s evil orchestration of events.”
But the inconvenient incidents weren’t my problem; they were just its triggers. What left me bleeding on the battlefield was the bullets of twisted belief.
The book of Job may be the best spiritual warfare manual ever written. In it, only seven verses describe Satan’s evil orchestration of events: marauders, natural disasters, enemies, weather, and illness (Job 1:14-19 and 2:7). That’s it, seven verses out of forty-two chapters.
The rest of the book of Job reveals the distorted thinking of Job, his wife, and his friends. The book of Job concludes with God revealing himself, and it is God’s self-disclosure—clear thinking of true reality—that brings the healing Job needed.
It’s the Lies That We Buy That Kill Us
Scripture emphasizes Satan’s messages not his physical power. He’s called: a liar, the father of lies, a deceiver, an accuser, and a blinder of our minds. Scripture doesn’t call Satan the demon of thunderstorms, the terrorizer of technology, or the evil spirit of illness.
He may cause some of these, but he always lies about them with false interpretations.
Satan’s objective is to convince us of untruths about God (and then others and even ourselves). Satan’s plan with Job was to get him to “curse God to his face” (Job 1:11). It is our false beliefs that make us act in fear, rage, timidity, domination, misunderstanding, and oppression.
I Could Have Handled That Call Differently
The changed reservations, poor parking, and bad weather triggered inner responses of unneeded intensity, distraction, and forcefulness. I thought: “Why does this always happen to me? At the very worst times? Now I’ve got to make this call work, even though I’m unprepared.”
What if, instead, I believed that God works out all things for the good? Even poor podcast prep.
I would have made the call with peace not frenzy (Success doesn’t depend upon me), and curiosity not distraction (What is God up to?). Everybody would have had more fun. Including me.
Instead of cowering in thunderstorms, we can sing in the rain as we wonder, “What great marvel is God up to now?”
P. S. Plato urges us: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” If you are breathing, you are under a spiritual assault. The question we face is not, “Are we under attack?” but, “What is the heart of the attack?”
And the only cure for spiritual warfare is found in hearing Him. To nurture that conversational relationship with your Father, I suggest you read Hearing God in Conversation.
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Love todays post. Kinda lines up with what I’ve been thinking if i ever got a Tattoo….it would ask one of Jesus’s favorite questions and would get me toward that place you speak of today: “Where is your faith?”
I’d put it on my right forearm where only i could see it but i’d like it to get me to that place of trust you speak of today.
Samuel C. Williamson
I love that “Where is your faith?” question too.
It’s usually somewhere else 🙁
I read your posts and sometimes think not much new here (not often) and then other times you chase down a point, skin it, tan it and lay it at my feet – and its “wow, why didn’t I see that.” And today’s agate lying on the sandy beach was “clear thinking of true reality.” I hear clear thinking right and left just by watching Fox or CNN – but a reasoned argument based on false facts is just a lie, whether intentional or not. And I have heard and read so much that was based on the truth but looked at through various filters – so you know its wrong, and need to be careful that you don’t discount the truth because of a lousy interpretation.
So you have encouraged me today to delve deeper into the true words available to me and pray for a bright and active mind to know what to do with the facts that arise.
Thanks for your thoughts –
Samuel C. Williamson
Love what you are saying, especially, “to delve deeper into the true words available to me and pray for a bright and active mind to know.”
I should have known … The title of today’s post had me hesitating to even read it. But as usual you looked at this tired out subject with a different lens, and what great insight was given. I especially love the lines, “But the inconvenient incidents weren’t my problem; they were just its triggers. What left me bleeding on the battlefield was the bullets of twisted belief.” You nailed it!!
Samuel C. Williamson
I’m hesitant to write on a well-worn topic. I understand your hesitation to trod down those boring trails!
I just think we continue to “fear” the wrong thing. It’s like the magicians who trick us by getting our attention on the trivial right hand while the trick us with the left.
We look at spectacular when God is asking us, “So what lies did you just buy?” The real harm is in those lies.
Thanks Sam. Today in particular I needed help with this very adjustment of the attitude of my heart. The enemy is so opportunistic. Definitely ready to kick you if there is any chance you are already down or even might be heading down. Thanks be to Jesus and our Heavenly Father, continually telling us the real truth by His Spirit living in us. Now, I need to also remember the promise of His power to deal with what is coming at me; power that He says is all the more effective when I am so weak and powerless. So weird! His strength is made perfect in weakness. “I am amazed LORD, that You will show off Your sovereignty and grace through the likes of someone like me! I am excited to see what You will do with a whole list of things that seem impossible. What a great reminder from Sam to rest in You, relaxed, but circumspect as I move forward step by step.”
Samuel C. Williamson
You have gone through so much suffering this year. I’m am amazed an encouraged by your hope.
Ohhhh, this subject deserves attention — to remember and recognize an enemy who wants us disabled or dead, and to respond with the armor of God. Great, great reminder. Thank you.
Samuel C. Williamson
Thanks for this post. Seeing the podcast impediments listed made me realize (reminded me?) how spiritual warfare actually plays out in our lives. I especially appreciate your ending ‘alternative approach’ suggestions if we embraced distractions as God-allowed if not caused detours to keep us facing in the right direction, toward the Lord. That’s a discipline I need to work on.
Beliefs of the Heart
It’s a discipline I need too! (It’s easier to write about it than to do it, but God is mysteriously at work.)
I like your website’s byline: ROAD REPORT Journal reflects how God is shaping me in my day-to-day experiences, reading, and encounters with others. (Others can read it at: https://www.roadreportjournal.com/ )