When Christians gather, the devil goes to work. When we gather in the name of Christ, the power of Christ of present. The Kingdom of God grows in strength and numbers, and the constant battle of good and evil is claimed for the side of good.
So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present. 1 Corinthians 5:4
The devil reigns where Christ does not, so he works hard to destroy those that gather in the name of Christ. He launches attacks to weaken our faith in Christ by turning us on each other. If we allow the devil to be successful in undermining our efforts to grow the Kingdom, the constant battle will be claimed for evil.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
I experienced an attack while preparing for a gathering in Nashville a few years ago. I had been asked to share my story and rejoice in the works of God in the stories of others. In the week leading up to the event, my anxiety and stress began to overwhelm me. I was unable to truly pinpoint what had me worried. Retaliation from ex was definitely a concern. Although I’ve been very open about my story, this event offered a much larger platform. I felt the immense pressure the impact my story could have. I had the opportunity to reach thousands of women in abusive situations. I shuddered under the weight of being the one called to deliver Christ’s message of hope and healing to these women. But I had to let them know that they were not alone, I could show them there was a way out. My mind swirled with self doubt and worry. I reached out for support as the negative tape of self loathing tried to play over and over in my head.
My stress level was escalated as this full time working single mom struggled to find care for my boys who were not yet back in school. Our district had (and still does have) the latest start date in our area. This meant all the day camps had closed for the summer. The inevitable answer was me to work from home, while walking the tightrope of trying to make my boss, my client, and my children happy.
As the tightening in my throat increased, I continued to take one step at a time… right into a size 7 high top. The aftermath was a very large, dark purple and black toe that the doctor insisted required x-rays. Hours of waiting room waiting with two rambunctious boys later, much to the orthopedic’s surprise, there was no fracture. Surely my week was looking up!
By Wednesday though, it appeared to not be the case. My daycare dilemma for the boys had not been resolved and arrangements for a sitter that evening fell through. Unwilling to miss an opportunity to enjoy dinner, dancing and fireworks while sailing around Lake Michigan with my co-workers, I brought the boys along. As spouses and families had been invited to attend, they were not the only children on board and soon they had made fast friends and were off enjoying themselves. The ever distracted mommy in me did my best to keep tabs on them. While peering through a window into the lower cabin to check on them, I slipped and hit the deck hard. Praise God there was really no one around to see; just my friend and the boat staff. Despite a wicked bruise on my arm and a blow to my pride, I was fine. At this point I should probably allow that I can’t really give the devil credit for the bruised toe and arm. Anyone who knows me in the least bit, knows I’m an accident waiting to happen. But these clumsy moments definitely weren’t helping my overall state of mind.
As the boat docked at Navy Pier, and we all were saying our good-byes, my world stood still for a minute or two. A highly intoxicated co-worker began to verbally assault my oldest son. After threatening him multiple times that he would throw him overboard, he insisted on a hug. So frightened by what was happening, my son refused the hug. At which point, I intervened and asked the boys to head down the stairs to exit the boat. However, before they could make it down the stairs, my co-worker ran after them and started cursing at my oldest son, specifically calling him by name.
I just stood there. I didn’t do a thing. I didn’t stop it. I didn’t say anything. I simply watched in silence.
When his tirade was finally over, I ran down the stairs after the boys, and we left.
I don’t know what hurts most. The fact that I stood there and let it happen, or the fact that it happened at all. No attack could have been deeper, more sliced to the bone than watching my son be assaulted. No shame more relentless than facing the reality that I had not stopped it.
Do you see the lengths the devil will go to? He tried to break me, but he did not succeed. He tried to silence me once again through the fear of abuse. but I was not silenced.
My first day in Nashville, I sat down on a bus beside a man whose story is no easier than mine. He looked straight into my heart and spoke this verse.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 12
The DVD made that weekend is powerful, and my story is right there exactly as God scripted it.
I’m chalking this battle up to good.