A few days ago, I stood at the stove, my thoughts swirling as I scrambled eggs. How would I explain what the tiny green specks were to the kids? They would certainly ask, and flick at them with their forks. But I like chives in my eggs. And it's a rare day I have a half-box in the fridge leftover from last night's enchiladas.
I kept stirring. I was holding a lot together. And when I say 'a lot,' I mean more than I can actually hold together. More accurately, I was being held together. And I knew it. Lately I'd felt generous doses of grace poured out in my daily life. Despite how difficult things were, I'd been lifted up, my feet set upon a rock. Know what I mean? I'd been miraculously able to stay filled and faithful in a hard season where it made no sense to have peace, and by virtue of nothing I'd done.
But as I scrambled the eggs and searched for an appeasing explanation for the chives, I heard the lies. To be fair, I didn't realize right away what they were. Even though the slinking negativity came from nowhere as I cooked, one always thinks the lies of the enemy are one's own thoughts. That's why they're so effective.
"You're just pretending. What a joke. You're efforts don't mean anything. Your words are worthless. Just pretending. In reality, you're crumbling. You're falling apart..."
For a split second, I thought, "Oh my gosh, I am crumbling...I can't hold it together..." But thank the Lord, His spirit is living and active and protective of His children, because quickly, a "Wait...no," welled up in me. "No....that's not true," my heart protested, though feebly at first.
Discernment means carefully weighing something against what is known to be true and right by what the Bible says. And in that moment, I weighed the lies, not knowing yet that they were lies. First, I sensed that claiming ownership of those thoughts, even for a second, felt like being pushed into a dark room. It felt gripping and hopeless and terrifying. Just entertaining the thoughts briefly made my spirit feel like it was sinking. But when I weighed the opposite, felt out the resistant viewpoint, it felt freeing and brave. It felt like clouds parting. And it was clear to me, then, what was happening.
Battle. Good old spiritual battle. I was a target in an open field and I had a choice to make. Either I let the lethal arrows of deception hit me and take me down, or I defend myself.
"I'm not pretending," I thought, with a swelling defiance. "I'm certainly not falling apart. God sees me! (The truth gathered momentum.) He's set my feet on a rock. He's defined my worth. He knows what He's doing. There's a BIG difference between pretending and waiting in faith, believing in God's promises despite the darkness."
That was all it took. I owned the truth, instead of the lies. And suddenly the lies seemed as material as a puff of smoke. The battle scene turned back into my kitchen, breakfast commenced, and my kids ate the chives.
I thought later about Ephesians 6 where Paul talks about the armor of God. The kids and I recalled the pieces of armor, one at a time, in the car on the way to the park. In a new way, I understood why the shield is our faith. It's the first line of a warrior's defense. A shield is the first thing an arrow will hit, if you have one.
Look at the language in God's word:
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
Faith is a shield. Believing God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do is my biggest and first defense when I am spiritually attacked. My vicious enemy shot flaming darts at me while I innocently scrambled eggs. This time, thankfully, he failed to take me down.
But he is not stupid. He was preying on some very personal and real desires I have. And his goal was to burn down my identity. Burn down my hope. Burn down my beliefs. He knows how much I want to be seen, and for my words and actions to be significant to my loved ones. He knows that He can easily plant seeds of fear in me about falling apart and failing. He knows that all of us long to have great worth, though we secretly wonder if we have any at all.
All of his lies depend on fear. Lies work because we are tricked into being afraid.
But love is the antidote. It's the opposite of fear, you know. I have faith in what God says about He and I, and He says we're in this radical love affair where no eye has seen and no ear has heard about all the good things He has in store for me. He says He has big plans for me, for my family, and for my life in Montana, of all places. He says that He will cause even the bad stuff of life to work out for my benefit.
And that's the truth. That's reality. That's who I am.
I am loved.
Here's the question of the day, for me, pretty much every day. When God's answer to my prayers is, "Wait," do I put on a smile and secretly freak out inside, or do I let Him lift me up out of my fears to a place of safety and peace? Do I fight back when the arrows come, and cling to His promises, even though I'm in a tunnel with no sign of light at the end?
The first option does, in fact, lead to the fall-apart scenario. I've totally tried it. But the second, I've tried that too. God has trained me, through long seasons of trials, to let Him rescue me. To trust Him. To stop the fears and the thought circles and the preoccupation. And to hold up my shield of faith.
There's only one good reason to switch from Plan A to Plan B. One powerful belief separates the two: He loves me. That's all.
And He loves you. Like crazy.
Friend. Whatever battlefield you're on right now, I'm praying you'll pick up your shield.