Attack

I didn't know all that much about spiritual warfare eight weeks ago.

Now I know more.

On October 14th, my seven-year-old son was baptised. It was higher than any other 'mountain top' experience I have ever had. Ever.

Better than getting married, better than going to church camp. Better than the day he was born.

I'd had baptism for him on my heart for about six months prior. I continually had that feather-brush thing going on in the back of my mind about having him baptised and becoming a christian. It felt weird. I didn't know how to approach talking to my own child about Jesus and I felt like a bit of a spiritual gumby. That's a terrible phrase, but it's how I felt. Like I was moving through wet cement to reach him.

I prayed about it lots whenever it felt heavy on my heart and prayed for God's protection over him while I looked for any small opportunity to start 'the' conversation that is the single most important conversation one can ever have with anyone.

When our church said they were baptising people on October 14th, I thought nothing of it. Matthew had already been infant 'sprinkled', so he technically was already baptised. I thought his baptism would come only by the Holy Spirit, when Matthew decided to follow Jesus for himself.

However, on that Sunday Matthew decided for some odd reason not to go to Kids Church. I was annoyed, to be honest. But Ben said he could stay, so he did. While we were listening to the sermon, I felt a really strong urge to stop being grumpy and pray for Matthew and baptism. I realised that God was prompting me to pray that Matthew would choose to be baptised. I put my arm casually around him and began to pray hard in my heart for him. Anyone looking would have just seen a mum put her arm around her son's shoulders while listening to a sermon, but it was so much more than that.

I kept praying until our Pastor, after baptising the other teenagers, asked if there was anyone else who wanted to be baptised. And of course, Matthew came wandering up to me and asked. My heart almost burst with excitement and praise to God.

He did it. He was perfectly serious. I had not said one single word to him about Jesus or being baptised. It was his choice. I wept as we prayed for him after he was baptised. It was the most exciting and wonderful day of my life.

Looking back, I now realise that my son choosing to follow Jesus for the rest of his life made the enemy mad. Really, really mad.

And so, he attacked.

I watched helpless as my beautiful eldest daughter reacted badly to some MSG-type preservatives. She had a maddening itch for one week. Her face swelled up and went red. Her lips were swollen. She got a red rash on her back. Then, her skin peeled. Starting with her face, then her torso and finally her limbs.

We had to visit the hospital late one night on about day three after she come down with it because she was so distressed about being itchy, sore, swollen and red. She was put on AB's and all sorts of pain relief. We visited the doctor numerous times during the following two weeks to make sure she was OK.

It was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life. I was physically exhausted from managing administering medication, spiritually exhausted from praying almost non-stop for her poor little body which was so sick and sore. I was emotionally exhausted from feeling responsible for her reaction and for watching her go through it when sometimes I simply couldn't stop her itching or her pain. I had no other meds or options left but to just stay calm and remind her to wipe herself with a cold washer to stop her itching.

After this episode, it was our wedding anniversary. We were married in November 2001 at St Andrew's Anglican Church in Lismore, NSW. We were 21 at the time and I had just finished university while Ben had one year to go. So, it was our 11-year anniversary.

I love my husband fiercely, passionately and very deeply, but our anniversary was pretty ordinary. We were both tired and strung out. I even had indigestion from our lovely breakfast (it really was nice, but I felt so rotten!). Usually we manage to have a bit of fun even if we're feeling tired or a bit flat, but this time we were both so exhausted that there was no playful banter, no deep and meaningful conversations about our marriage over the past year and what we wanted to improve on next year.

It got worse.

When we got home, I felt strung out even more. I felt like I wasn't coping and Ben wasn't listening (these were my feelings, not an accurate description of what was actually happening, by the way). I wondered why God had asked me to have another baby when I obviously was stuffing up big time because I felt like I couldn't cope.

My head felt like it was full of lead and wouldn't operate. I knew that God loved me, He wanted me to have Lara for a reason and that all I had to do was trust Him through this rough patch.

It was scary. My emotions were rampant and my feelings overtook my actions. I threw a tube of toothpaste in the middle of a stressful moment one day and shouted at my children, "What is WRONG with you???". Seriously? I felt even worse when Denna came up to me a few minutes later with the toothpaste lid and said, "I'm sorry, Mummy."

It got me thinking. I know that feelings are indicators, not dictators. But what do you actually do with them when they're so strong that you feel like they're dominating your actions? I prayed my backside off nearly all day, every day, just to get through the day with the children fed, washing done and myself alive. I prayed and prayed and prayed out my feelings, but they were just SO huge and confronting that I felt like I was trying to push an ocean through a tear duct!

The scariest thing was doubting my marriage. I come from a divorced family and I swore I would never, ever let my children grow up with that sort of pain. And yet, here I was - furious with my husband. For no particular reason. Just frustrated with every little thing that had been hard in our 11 years together. Cranky, cold, sulky and withdrawn.

My prayers during that time were pathetic. Honestly. All I could summon up in prayer was an image in my head of me prostrate before Jesus' feet, just crying my heart out because I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to even form words to pray. It was all I could do to say, "God, please help me! I'm so over this!!"

It's embarrassing to admit this, but there I was. I was shocked to be in such a dark place, because I'd always worked hard to stay on track. I realised that I had to do something, otherwise I was going to end up making a really bad call at some point.

So, I talked to Ben (poor man, I swore he had whiplash from my mood). It was like a pressure valve being released on an over-filled tyre. A baby draining an engorged breast. Almost immediate relief.

I finally relaxed enough to shed a few tears, even. But it wasn't over yet.

Then, my little girl was hit with a mystery festy rash that infected her poor little face and a big patch on her hip. My younger boy had it, but nowhere near as bad. I watched helplessly as my remedies failed and it got worse and worse. Back to the hospital for Betadine, swabs and ABs. Back to prayer for another unwell child.

Ben went to a few really hard jobs at work. A baby died. A sick mother. A mother who chose abortion. The sort of cases that are just tragic and really bring that harshness of life into your face and break your heart.

I realised slowly that I had been kicked while I was down by someone so mad and so full of hatred for me, my husband, our marriage and our children. He had tried to steal my joy away and pull me over the edge.

That got me praying in a different way!

The fog of that difficult time has lifted in the past few days and I've learned a few things:

a) Spritual attack is real. The enemy hates us and wants us suffering and dead. It's that simple.

b) I had to learn that I'm not protected from tough times just because I'm a christian who prays lots. Every christian is tested and it's a chance to thank God for being there when times are tough.

c) All you can do with strong feelings that are contrary to what God calls us to do is be honest about how you're feeling, talk to someone you trust about it and pray minute by minute if you need to for strength to deny destructive feelings and do the right thing. It is one of the hardest things you can ever do - feeling so mad and upset that you think you might burst, but showing kindness and patience, but it brings such a wonderful peace in your family, your marriage and your relationships with others.

I can't say exactly what broke the drought, but prayer from my beautiful prayer warrior sisters, talking it out and making sure I was adequately rested and fed certainly helped bring on the rain after the long, hot and dry day of the spiritual attack. Over the past few days, a sweet peace has swept into my soul (I know that sounds swoony, but it's just the best way I can describe it!).

My response to the attack wasn't as great as I'd hoped, but with four more children to choose to say, "YES!" to Jesus and be baptised, I'm sure I'll get plenty of practice and hopefully next time recognise it when it does happen!

Please, just be careful about spiritual attack. Don't take everything that's hard as an attack. Just because things are hard, doesn't mean that you're under attack from the enemy. If you need help with discerning spiritual attack, please speak to a mature christian or your pastor.

I just wanted to share this with you to show you that we are ALL vulnerable to the enemy who definitely does prowl around us like a lion, waiting to devour us. I wanted to show you that we can come through it, perhaps not doing so well at it as we would have liked, but we can endure it and still be alive, be OK and call ourselves christians afterwards because we still love God.

But mostly, I just wanted to share what an awesome God we have - who listens to our sometimes whiny and pathetic prayers and loves us enough to let us go through tough times which make us stronger, more mature and able to help those who are doing it tough as well.

Thanks God, for all you teach us.

Comments

  1. wow, what an awesome post. You are an amazing woman, wife, mother, and child of God. Bless you and your amazing family. thank you for sharing this!

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  2. Thank you, Janet! I'm afraid I'm just an ordinary person (with an extraordinary God). I'm not really proud of my behaviour when I was under attack......but so grateful for my gracious family and friends who put up with my groaning and moaning! :)

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  3. I loved reading about Matthew!! :-)

    Hooray for our God who protects us and strengthens us and loves us even though how knows how weak and foolish we are

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