In The Midst of a War

 The Journey

Beginning Again

I woke up this morning wanting to do something creative.  I thought to myself that I should start a blog.  I no longer have essays to write for college and could set aside real time to create a blog worth reading.  WordPress told me that I already had an account, a blog long forgotten, with this post still in the queue:

[I recently spent six months in Dublin, Ireland in an attempt to dip my toes into the missionary field.  Instead I ended up jumping into a rushing river that swept me right to the front lines of a heavenly battleground.  I stood in the center of the battlefield bearing neither armor nor weapons.  The Enemy troops saw that I was ill equipped to fight the battle and as I ran along the lines of God’s soldiers they shot their arrows at me.

Before coming to Dublin I was never taught about spiritual warfare and a Christian’s role in the battle; and I definitely never experienced it first hand.  I had heard about Jesus casting demons out of a man and into pigs (Luke 8:26-37) but never thought about how those things could happen today.

While I did not experience demon possession like the man in the bible, (I believe that a true believer cannot be possessed by a demonic power.  Possession implies ownership; Christians are owned by God as His children) I did experience demonic oppression.

For many months I tried to ignore what was going on around me.  I kept my experiences a secret and tried not to dwell on it.]

It has been three years since I left Dublin, but this battle I refer to is still a raging war.  In the years after Dublin, I began to lose touch with God.  It was a slow and steady separation, one that I didn’t feel until I called out for God one night and couldn’t remember how to hear Him.

Hearing Him Clearly

At the beginning of March I moved to a new state, Virginia.  I made it a goal to find a church where I can connect with people and keep fighting in the army of God.  A few nights ago I was awakened by the terrifyingly familiar sense of oppression just like what I experienced in Dublin.  Unable to open my eyes due to fear I knew that I needed to find God again.

I believe I was called here for this exact purpose. Ephesians 6:10-14 says  10 Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13 So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day[a] comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.  

Before the end of last year I had no intention of moving to Virginia, but I heard Him calling me here and I knew I had to go.  I am wildly unprepared for the battle I am about to face, I have no clue what is going to happen here or what I will encounter but I know that God will have the ultimate victory.  

 

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Open Hearts

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Breaking Down Walls

One big thing that new Christians are often told is to let go of worry, give your daily burdens to God.  When I started to reach out to other Christians to help me with my walk I often came across this verse: Psalms 55:22 ,”Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain you; he shall never let the righteous be moved.”  In Bible studies, sermons, and group discussions I was constantly told to turn to God and give Him my stresses over school work, or money troubles, or relational difficulties.  They had it ingrained into my mind that if I could only just let my weekly worries go I could live a happy life.

I worked persistently on remembering to give my anxieties to God but still did not feel that those quick prayers were helping as much as I thought they would.  I fully understand how important it is to not let petty problems run your life, give them to God daily so you are not consumed with them.  However remember that we should not only focus on surface ‘problems’.

Bigger Worries

Before coming to understand Christianity, I allowed worry to consume me.  There were times when I would make myself physically ill over things I didn’t know how to handle alone.  I often attributed my ailments to immediate worries like exams and presentations, concerns for family and friends, or other emotionally taxing events.  I neglected to dig deeper, not because I was afraid to, but because I didn’t know how.  I failed to put two and two together, completely missing the possibility that I was feeling sick over worries bigger than I realized.  

In those Bible studies and group discussions I was never asked to take a look at the bigger picture, to think about long-term struggles that I dealt with.  It wasn’t until very recently that I realized I had serious burdens I was trying to carry alone.  And even after realizing that it still took me several weeks to want to stop carrying them alone.  I had to reach the point of desperation before going to God with them.

For the first time in my life I sat down, pen and paper in hand, for the sole purpose of talking to God.  I prayed that He would show me everything I was trying to hide and by the end of the hour I had no room left to write.  I had eleven bullet points showing major concerns on my heart and beside them were round about dates showing when I started carrying them.  There were several things on that paper that I carried for more than ten years.  I couldn’t believe I had written what I was reading.

Finally Freedom

After the initial shock wore off, I opened up my Bible to Psalms 72:12-14 and found this: “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help….He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”  I was oppressing myself and allowing emotional violence  to exist inside of my head because I did not deem myself precious to deserve freedom from it.  But in a leap of faith, begging Him to show me my own problems,  was me crying out to Him for refuge.

I cannot explain the freedom I felt after folding up that piece of paper and throwing it away.  My daily burdens are surface problems now, no longer deeply rooted anguish.  I’ve allowed God to break down the wall I built between us and open up my heart.

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Open Waters

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Diving into Christianity 

“It’s different when you grow up in the church. Being surrounded by Christianity from such a young age makes it easy to understand what you hear.”

For years I listened to people, both Christian and not, say to me that being raised in the church gave me some sort of ‘head start’ on my search for spirituality. In some ways they are right. It was in Sunday School where I learned to love the stories from the Bible. It was during worship where I first felt the presence of God around me. But sitting in the pews for the first 18 years of my life was not where I came to understand what being a Christian means.

After graduating high school and leaving home to start college, looking for God was the last thing on my mind. I felt no burning desire to nurture my faith or to know more about my God. After leaving my home I spent 6 months gathering buckets full of earthly ‘water’ to build my ocean where I hoped to plant my island. But instead of floating on top of it all, I slowly started to drown. Submerged in my schoolwork, relationships, negative thoughts, and bad habits I could no longer control the waves the world was tossing at me.

I remember thinking “What am I missing? Why can’t I handle what life is throwing at me?” when I heard a voice ask “What are you searching for?” If I was asked that months earlier, I would’ve replied with “Nothing, I have all I need here.” But sitting on my bedroom floor I knew I needed more. I was searching for sanctuary, a relationship, for peace and love.

I wasn’t a Christian because I had been to church, because I owned a Bible, or because I could recite a few scriptures. I was a Christian because I yearned for a relationship with my God, with Jesus Christ. It was in those following months that I truly embraced my faith. I broke down the damns holding in my ocean of worries and instead of swimming in that water, I dove into the living water. I am no longer fearful of drowning, for Jesus is my life boat, my calm to the stormy waters.

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