An Unforeseen Wrestling Match - November 2017

She really wanted to go. Her friend had invited her to a seminar called "A Pale Horse Rides" and she had wanted to attend. But then she had forgotten about it as life got busy. It was Friday and around 5:30 PM all of a sudden she got an urge to start cleaning her house. For the next hour or so she was in a cleaning frenzy with a nagging sense that she had somewhere to be. Then she remembered the seminar starting at 7 PM. Did she really want to go? She would need a ride…her boyfriend obliged. But the closer she got to the church, the more nervous and anxious she became. Getting out of the car and walking up to the church door was an incredibly difficult experience; she thought about turning around and going home. It got worse and worse until she opened the door of the church. But when she did, a wave of warmth washed over her and her fear and anxiety left her. She really enjoyed the presentation and wants to learn more…

Personal confession: I knew that I needed to get out to my neighbors and invite them to “A Pale Horse Rides.” I knew that it was important for me to invite them personally…but I was busy with many things (funeral, three churches to prepare for a seminar, you know… the usual)… Finally, we had a free evening to go and invite our neighbors in person. As I was contemplating going out to invite them I found thoughts running through my head (It's really cold tonight… will it really matter… they probably don't want to see us anyway). Indeed, as I contemplated it, I became more and more reluctant to go out. The feeling only increased as we went out towards the first door, in fact it lasted all the way until the door was answered. Then we invited our neighbors. Am I the only one with this experience? I don't think so.

I had both of these experiences just a couple days apart from each other and yet as I have been praying about it in the aftermath of God’s working I am struck by the fact that I am a pastor and found the same resistance in going out to invite people to something that I knew was good and worthy of their attendance as a person who received the card had in actually attending the meeting. What was the source of that resistance? In isolation I might be tempted to say “oh, it's just my own problem.” However, I realize that is far from true. The parallel nature of the battle gives away its source: it is spiritual warfare. It would be nice to believe that as a Christian, and as a pastor no less, I am immune to Satan's attacks on my emotions. But it simply is not true. And this week I have come to the startling realization in praying through these experiences with God. The truth is that the same evil force that is invested in keeping the lost from being found is also invested in keeping the found from seeking the lost. The thoughts and feelings presented are tailored to every person but they have the same effective results to keep people from finding Christ (I'm not good enough… they're all just hypocrites… there's no point in trying…fill in the blank) or keeping us from helping others find Christ (I don't know enough… someone else will… I have so much on my plate…fill in the blank). All of this has the cumulative affect of paralyzing the witness of the church and keeping those in darkness from ever seeing the light. This is why Paul in Ephesians chapter 6 starting in verse 10 informs us the real battle is going on every day and it is invisible, behind the scenes. But the beautiful truth is that Satan doesn't have to win! I have seen in my life how God defeats Satan's attacks every time I turn to Him! This is the good news of the gospel that we have a wonderful Savior who not only died to forgive us but to deliver us from the power of Satan. Freedom is not a myth…it is a reality in Christ!

And so the devil is terrified. That roaring lion knows that he does not stand a chance against the power of God. His only chance is to roar loud enough in hopes of keeping people from grasping the Hand of infinite strength. And he roars at people outside…and inside the church. That is why it is Christians that Peter warns “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8. In other words, be on guard because the lion does not sleep tonight. But Peter continues with power in verse 9, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” In other words you're not the only one going through this and Satan's biggest weapon is to keep everyone from realizing that he's roaring at everyone else too. Once you realize it’s him you can turn to God and the game is up. To all my fellow wrestlers (in and out of the church) do we really want to let Satan have the last word? “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 16:20 NKJV).