Monday, August 22, 2011
My son was in Kindergarten this past year. I wasn't happy with the way the year went. Without getting into politics and the sad state of California public education, I'll just say that he was never challenged. He was among the more capable children, and those children were more or less left to coast, while the completely overburdened teacher had to teach the rest who were achieving below the benchmark. I helped in the class almost weekly, and so I witnessed this firsthand. I certainly don't blame his teacher. No one could effectively teach the large number of five year olds who were in her classroom daily, especially with so many who were lagging. By Christmas, I took it upon myself to challenge my son for the rest of the year at home in the afternoons while my oldest was doing her homework. I knew that was the only way he would grow and actually progress as a student. I knew that was the choice I needed to make in order to best parent my son.
Here's where this post turns a big corner. Because it really has nothing to do with Kindergarten. It has to do with me, and what God showed me last week. He reminded me that a Good Teacher challenges His students.
And boy have I been challenged. In the past month or two, I've been having some serious ups and downs. And I'm not even going to do it justice with words right now. I'll tell you how it feels. To the best of my knowledge and experience, it feels like spiritual attack. And what that feels like is periodic confused thoughts about myself, my family members, my anything really. It feels like a heaviness, from time to time, that makes me want to shut out the world or just go to sleep. Once in a while, it feels like depression, like something is pushing me down, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot shake the feeling. It feels like doubt and negativity and things I NEVER normally struggle with. But the main reason I understand it to be spiritually rooted is that this negativity tries to shake up what I know to be true.
They say in medicine that the remedy identifies the sickness. In other words, if taking an antibiotic makes you well, then it's safe to assume you had a bacterial infection. In my case, focusing on truth, spending time with God, and listening and reading His word, all keep me above the fray. Staying close to Him picks me up out of the mess, and so I feel assured that I am being subjected to spiritual assault.
Which has made me, this past week, ask, "Why?" A few days ago in my quiet time, with a degree of desperation in me, I asked God why He's seemingly removed some sort of protection from my heart and mind lately, and allowed me to be so attacked by the Enemy. He had a clear answer: "Because you need to learn to fight."
He brought to mind the exact situation with my son I described above, and I understood the parallel immediately. A good teacher challenges his students. I've known for a while that I've had some shielding from the Lord in the last few years due to rough times in our marriage, and I get the feeling that the winds are shifting. It's not that the Lord will stop protecting me. I don't believe that. But I know that He is challenging me in a new way, in order to strengthen me for the battles of this life.
As I was thinking and listening - still in my quiet time - He also brought to mind Ephesians 6, where He lays out all the parts of the armor of God. I know much of it by heart, but He said to learn it all. Go over and over it. Practice it when the attacks come. Walk through the tools He has given me to fight my battles for truth.
Because aren't all battles ultimately rooted in the war between truth and lies? What a person believes to be true determines a whole lot. And so naturally, our Enemy works to steal and corrupt whatever truth he can. If he can get me to believe that I'm not good at anything (yes, that was what I was tempted to believe last week for an entire day), then won't I become totally ineffective? If he can get me to believe that my husband doesn't really care, then won't I see all he does through that twisted lens, creating a path of destruction through my home? If the Enemy can get me to believe that God isn't listening, then won't I stop talking?
Friends. This is not just my story, here. It is yours too. We are all, more or less, under regular spiritual attack by Satan. He is the father of lies, and no truth is in him at all. I sort of wish I lived under a bubble of protection from all things dark and deceitful. But God knows best. He is a Good Teacher who challenges His loved children so that they grow.
So that they learn to wield their weapons.
So that they can experience what it feels like to be more than conquerors.
You and I both know that sitting in the corner "coasting" is not even suitable for a small child. Our brains and bodies and hearts were created to be stretched and worked and matured.
So I'm hitting the books. Well, the Book. Quiz me on Ephesians 6 next week.
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 rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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. 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. 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 Lord’s people.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Labels: faith essentials