The above pic was taken last week. A friend of mine said, "There is something spiritual about that, I couldn't put my finger on it." I had to hold back tears to get my words out. "That picture is is what it looks like after you have fought the devil for your marriage with the power of Jesus and won". Those cheeks have been stained with tears, maybe wondering if the tears would ever stop. That picture is what it looks like to be one in the name of Christ, not because of our faithfulness, but because of God's faithfulness to us. All praise to the Father.
This is a long post. I am sorry about that. But I didn't want to break it up.
A New Name.
Several years ago we started a tradition to share something that we were thankful for during our extended family gathering for Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes we say why we are thankful for the person sitting next to us, and sometimes it has been what we are thankful for.
This morning I was thinking about our day ahead and God brought to mind this time of sharing and so I was pondering what I would share. As God tends to do…if He brings something to mind He normally has an agenda. So pretty quickly I felt in my heart that God wanted me to share with our family what a work He had done in my marriage this year.
Much of this path God has called me to walk in contemplation with Him. He has brought people in to be His tools for sure. He has brought prayer warriors and supporters. But quite early when things got rough for Rob and I God made it clear He wanted me to depend on Him, and if I had a problem, I needed to bring it to Him. If I had a hurt, I needed to bring it to Him. There would be no bashing or bitterness, no hateful speech, no holding of grudges. What there would be was humility, honest grief over our situation, lots of tears, lots of scripture, lots of hard work, and begging God to bring a miracle to our marriage.
I was unclear of what to pray for in our marriage, and so I asked for God’s vision for my marriage. I only wanted what God wanted. My prayers brought me peace and they brought me closer to God in dependence and humility in Him than I had ever experienced.
Through several months of struggling it became abundantly clear that Rob and I were dealing with a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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.“
On this morning of Thanksgiving, I felt like God gave me the picture of Jacob wrestling the angel all night at Bethel. And after the entire night spent wrestling with this angel, Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I felt like that is what Rob and I did this year, we wrestled with unknown forces that had come to steal, kill and destroy us. And we held onto God and would not let go until He blessed us. After Jacob’s time of wrestling he was told by the angel that he would have a new name, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and humans and have overcome.” Jacob named the place he wrestled Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
So I asked God what would your new name be for my marriage. FAITHFUL, I heard. This perplexed me, it didn’t seem right…and He said it again, FAITHFUL. I was confused, knowing that no one is faithful but God, so I asked… because we have been faithful to You? No, BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL TO YOU.
And that is what happened. This year has been a year of wrestling with God on our side, wrestling against darkness. It became clear that we were believing the lies of Satan against our marriage. And, very clear that the tormenting spirits* sent by Satan to keep us in fear, keep us in the illusion that we were in control, keep us in places that were not of the Lord, places that we didn’t want to be in, but didn’t seem to know how to get out of, or even realize that we were living in the midst of. Therapy, although helpful in some aspects, did not help us with our real issue. You can't keep spirits down, they don't behave, Jesus simply says they must leave. Through prayer and in the power of Jesus we told them they must leave. And they did. I saw in my husband’s eyes, deep into his eyes for the first time, the dark forces that plagued each of us and kept us from truly becoming one and whole were gone.
I heard my friend say the other day, “With the power of God behind you, you can go toe to toe with Satan at the gates of hell and not even be afraid.”
I fought with Satan for my marriage, so did Rob. Sometimes we felt blindfolded, but God was in control. We just held on and refused to let go, until we were blessed.
The hero of this story is FAITHFUL, THE LORD.
So I will take the new name FAITHFUL for my marriage, it is a reminder for me not of how good I am, or Rob is, or how much we mess up, but a reminder that the God of the universe has my back and I don’t have to let darkness mess with me. My consistent prayer through this journey has been for God to give me eyes to see, ears to hear and his wisdom through revelation. He gives good gifts.
*What are tormenting spirits? They are tools of Satan that are all around us. They are pride, lust, fear, jealousy, selfishness, unbelief, despair, insecurity, addiction, controlling, hate, suicide, depression, bitterness, lying…..
Ephesians 6 speaks clearly about how darkness is our real enemy, but for whatever reason, how to defeat our real enemy is not spoken of much in our churches. The tools to save us from what is seeking to kill and destroy our lives, our families, our marriages, and our children, are not spoken.We can try to do the right thing, and make things look pretty all we want, but until spirits are dealt with in the power of Jesus they will continue to seek, kill and destroy. Maybe sometimes they will lay dormant until our day of darkness comes, a child falls ill, someone close to us hurts us, we are overworked and exhausted, or maybe it is when we are on a mountain top that we are caught off guard...they will choose the opportune time and rise with vengeance.
As someone who has been fodder for darkness through out much of my life I know what darkness feels like, and I know what freedom feels like. There is no comparison. Satan will trick us into thinking that if we are truthful about the messes we have made that it will be too much to bear, and that is a lie, the truth is, most people are for us, most people will say, let’s get some help on this, let’s walk through this together, thank you for being honest, and then the wall of lies falls like the wall of Jericho, and there is a place that rest and peace can be found; Consequences, sure, but with God for us who can be against us. But most of us go through times, and some never get out, where they believe that hiding in their sin and shame is their only option, and then Satan throws a couple more spirits at us, spirits that lead us into more darkness and more confusion. Before we know it we are curled in a ball trying to do life with emptiness and hopelessness as our guides.
Micah 7:8 says, “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise, though I sit in darkness the Lord will be my light.”
Beth Moore wrote a great study years ago that helped me see more clearly the power I WAS GIVING, to Satan because I was allowing him to mess with me. The study is called, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.” I have gone through this study with several people who have found themselves in places that they never would have chosen. It changed my life years ago, I see that God has all the power, Satan only has what we allow, we can call God in and this is what I say, “In the name of Jesus, I command the spirit of fear (or whatever spirit that is tormenting you) to leave. Fear must leave for the power of Jesus blood is greater, and I believe in Jesus, I am His, I only want what He wants, I ask Jesus that you fill me with your good gifts to replace the darkness that has left, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control.” And then each time I feel the temptation to line back up with the spirit of fear (or whatever spirit Satan is throwing at me) I say out loud, I will not receive or align with that spirit. I trust in God. I wont align with what is not true.
I think it was when I saw Satan as a real force, not just the holder of hell, but something real that prowled back and forth across the earth to destroy whatever was in his path, it was then that it clicked in me. I will not let this prince of darkness rule over me any more. I will take charge of my choices with God’s help.
I also know there are times that the spirit of pride has had its way with me and I think, I can deal with this one on my own. I don’t need to ask for God’s help, I can keep myself in check, and it is in that moment Satan has had me right where he wanted me. This was most evident to me when Jack was in his last treatment for cancer. He had suffered brain trauma from the gamma knife radiation, and all that I knew of Jack’s personality was gone for 11 months. In the midst of that time I aligned with the spirit of bitterness that had been knocking on my heart for years, but I wouldn’t allow it to take hold. It did then, and from bitterness I moved to unbelief, and unbelief to despair, from despair to being scared to death because I was in so much darkness I felt myself slipping away. I tried desperately to get myself out of that place, but I was unclear as to what had hold of me. I prayed for God to help me, for weeks I prayed. Then I prayed for him to send someone to help me, and He did. She prayed over me, cast out in the name of Jesus the spirit of unbelief, and bitterness, despair, and fear. I left that time of prayer that day with my head clear. I had been swirling in a fog and I was clear headed again. There has been few days in the last many years since that day that I haven’t uttered the prayer of the father in Matthew, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” I had to fill up those places in me that were left empty with God or I would have been in worse shape than I had started.
The clearest teaching we had on this subject at my church was one bible class a man named Rusty came and taught on spiritual warfare. He taught hard truth on the tools God gives us to fight the enemy. This is what is out to get you, this is how you deal with it. He said, don’t start your day without prayer, and be wise knowing that Satan is out to take you down. This might seem melodramatic, but I have now added to my list of marriages that are breaking down my 12th couple in the last several months. These are the people around me, not a friend of a friend, not an, “I heard about this couple”, but people who I know and love. If Satan can’t turn us into his minions he will destroy us through our own selfish desires that he feeds with his tormenting spirits, and before we know it, we are at a place we never wanted to be. We have been had.
I love this exert from Beth Moore in Godly people,
“In Psalm 51, David was a man stricken by the grief of his own sin. A godly man who turned from the path and foolishly did ungodly things. He was seduced not by a woman but by a powerful unseen force. He denied responsibility for his sins and rationalized his behavior for as long as he could. Then he broke. Leave it to David not to be satisfied with a partial restoration.
David had known the sacred romance. I believe he would rather have died than to be forgiven but held at arm’s distance from a God of no more chances.
“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which though has broken may rejoice” (v.8). Whose joy and gladness did David want to hear? Oh, Beloved, without a doubt it was God’s! His Father’s! Abba, my Abba! I can only bear to come home if You are glad to see me! If I could only hear Your joy over my return, these bones that You have broken will rejoice!”
David couldn’t have stood it any other way. Line it up beside Jesus’ parable of the prodigal, and you find a perfect example why David was a man after God’s own heart. If he couldn’t return to God’s heart, he couldn’t bear to return to God’s home.
Had, you will never be healed any other way. Do not go back to your Father’s table to eat the crumbs on the floor like a dog. Think more of His redemption than that. Do not go back to your Father’s house just to be safe. He wants far more for you than that. You will never heal if you only go back to your Father’s home. You must go back to His heart. Closer than you have ever been.
Ah, there He is just now. Coming across the field. He is running in your direction. He doesn’t even see me right now. He only has eyes for you. Forget your speeches. He wants to hug you. He wants to kiss you. Your healing will come in your very own Abba’s tight and passionate embrace. Let Him hold you so close that you can hear His heart pounding from having run to you.
Don’t stop Him when he wants to put a robe on your back. A ring on your finger. And sandals on your feet. Do not take this moment from Him. Feast on the fatted calf. Then listen as He makes you to hear His joy and gladness. Press your ear to the floor and let your heart be caught in the rhythm of the steps of your Father’s dance. Then get up off that floor and let your broken bones rejoice. That will forever be the most authentic sign of a prodigal’s gratitude.
Don’t be afraid! He wouldn’t run like that if He weren’t glad to see you! Look, at the way He’s springing up that hill! He’s yelling something. I can’t quite make it out. Oh, now I hear it. He’s yelling, “Son!”
That was your name all along! Not Good or Proud.
We can stand toe to toe with Satan as long as God is with us and we use the power He has given. Shall we rise to this challenge and stop being fodder for the enemy? Let’s take back those places that bring peace and rest to our hearts and turn away from what brings death. Let’s not leave our children a legacy of brokenness but of strength and stubbornness to stand firm in the ways of God.