To be honest, I’m not a betting man (I’m not a drinking man either but that has nothing to do with this post) but I’d bet there’s been some spiritual warfare going on in my life as of late. Now, to be clear, I’m not one of those people who sees a demon under every bush or in every little problem. The car broke down not because of an attack by the devil but because I didn’t put oil in when I should’ve.
Yes, I admit and confess that there are more things on heaven and earth that are dreamt in my philosophy (that’s Hamlet, not the Bible by the way) and I know that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities of this dark world (that is from the Bible, Ephesians 6 actually). So when I look at something and begin to wonder if it is a spiritual attack, it means something.
So why is this then?
Over the last number of months it’s been one thing after another. My wife sprained her ankle while walking on the front steps of a house of a friend, then we get a really bad random drain back up in our house out of the blue, then we have our heater crap out on us, then I get a bad ear infection when I hadn’t done anything that might’ve gotten me one, and then just last week (right before thanksgiving) I slipped on the ice on our back steps (my rear end landing on the icy top step, then slid to the second step, then slid to the third step then slid with a ker-thump to the concrete) and sprained my ankle and knee.
My wife and I really began to wonder: is this spiritual warfare? Are we being attacked by the enemy?
Now, for the most part, when it’s one or two things that are random and have a solid cause and effect connected to it, I don’t slap it with a spiritual warfare lable. But when it’s one thing after another after another I start to wonder.
Things are going well at church. We’re moving forward in a great direction. We’re excited. God is doing great things here. If the enemy can’t touch us here, he can hit us in other places, especially the leaders. Not just that, but with my wife going to grad school it was close to a miracle of what happened. And she’s excited. Yet each one of these things has but a hindrance to her school work and moving forward in trying to trust in God’s leading and direction in her life.
And this is where the arrogance comes in.
On Thanksgiving day right before the worship service, I was talking with some people at church about how this could be spiritual warfare. I was asked if they could pray over me for protection. I brushed it off. I’m a stubborn SOB, I can take what’s thrown at me, I’m more worried about everyone else.
Yep, that’s arrogance alright. I’m not talking about hubris where I think I’m in control. It’s more of an arrogance that what’s thrown at me I can handle it on my own. I’ll stand firm and I’ll be okay without any help.
Yep. I’m good.
And then Sunday morning came. The alarm went off to get up and get ready for church. I couldn’t get up. My knee was in horrific pain. I couldn’t move without it hurting. I almost passed out from how much pain I was having. To be honest, I couldn’t handle it. This from the guy who broke his knee while hiking alone in the Badlands and walked back to my car and drove 3 1/2 hours home.
Pain isn’t something I usually complain about. Pain isn’t something I let keep me down.
I had to this time. I couldn’t go to church. Heck, I couldn’t get out of bed. So I just laid there in bed, doing nothing. I fell back asleep out of the pain. Waking up a few hours later, I hobbled down stairs and took some pain meds and then went to the couch. That alone hurt beyond measure.
It was then that I realized: No, I can’t handle this by myself.
I might be a stubborn SOB but this was not a time to be one. This wasn’t a time to look the enemy in the eye and say “Bring it.” This was a time to come to God in Jesus’ name and say “I can’t do it.” I was arrogant. And at that moment of not being able to do things myself, I realized I needed humility.
I can’t say why things happen at times. And there are times where I wonder why God would take time for but one person when there’s war going on in the world, when there’s suffering and refugees, and pain and hurting in the world. Why would he spend time on just me? Of course, I began to wonder: why the enemy would spend time on just me?
Of course, it’s divide and conquer. God’s work cannot be done when those following him can’t work together and do it. This isn’t some constant battle of good and evil where both are equal in power. No. The devil has been defeated when Jesus died upon the cross. He has no power. Yet he tries to make us think so. And all he needs is a push here, a lie there, and we do the rest.
It is God through Jesus by His Holy Spirit that strengthens us, protects us, leads us. In my arrogance, I thought I could stand on my own. I can’t. I needed the humbling of a hurt knee to remind me I can’t stand on my own. I need God in all of this.
I’m still learning.