I haven’t been able to write thoroughly about my experience at the Influence Conference yet, mainly because it’s been difficult to pin down ALL of my thoughts. But, one particular theme from the weekend has remained on my mind, and I really want to talk about it today. Jess Connolly spoke on spiritual warfare Saturday morning, and her words served as a wake up call to a reality I wasn’t fully aware of before. As a result, I have begun to understand that spiritual battles are being waged on us every second whether we recognize it or not, and that as God’s people, it is our job to engage.
By introducing the topic of spiritual warfare, some of you may worry that I’m going to discuss uncomfortable and frightening things. And you might wonder if you should stop reading this cause you don’t want to think about it. I don’t blame you, that’s me too. We’re afraid that “spiritual warfare” means something out of a horror film. But, (while I’m not denying the reality of some scary stuff) that’s not what I’m talking about. On a day-to-day basis, that’s not how we get “attacked.” It’s a lot sneakier than that.
This quote from Jess changed my perspective on the subject: “Spiritual warfare is simply this: We are trying to move the kingdom of God forward, and somebody is trying to hold it back. That’s it.” But for the most part, our movement is not physical; it is all within our heads and hearts.
Imagine these scenarios:
-A relative said you weren’t fit to homeschool.
-Someone at church offloaded their responsibility onto you.
-A close friend took advantage of your hospitality.
-You looked in the mirror and immediately began criticizing your body…again.
-Your day hasn’t gone as planned, and your planner is full of unchecked boxes.
-Instagram told you she has a better life than you do.
-You’re tired, your children are fussy and your husband’s mind is still on work.
-You’re afraid your business won’t ever get off the ground.
-Your ex said you’re unlikely to meet anyone like him again.
-Negativity in the news is making you panic about security.
-You know she doesn’t really want to be your friend, she’s just being nice.
–You’re worried your husband’s not being honest with you.
-You are afraid you’re being punished for your past sins.
These appear to just be everyday struggles and everyday thoughts. But, if we “zoom out” and examine them on a larger scale, we’ll realize they all take place on a battlefield. We know there’s a real enemy and that he drops fears, doubts, and lies in our minds all the time. If that wasn’t enough, life around us and our own sin natures challenge our ability to respond to situations and people in a godly manner. Either way, these are common “wartime” experiences. What will we do when those lies are dropped in our minds or we’re confronted with frustrating circumstances? Will we react or will we trust God? This is a test. And, not to be dramatic, but this is war.
We envision war to be a bloody, sweaty, tangible reality. But, the real war is something we can’t even see. Battles fought in our minds seem small and ineffectual. We don’t expect anyone to die when we berate our bodies in front of the mirror or get caught up in social media comparison. But think about it this way…
When we get sick, we are far too busy dealing with our own symptoms to carry out our responsibilities to the people around us. We can barely carry our achy bodies to and from the bathroom. We can’t begin to get up the strength to run errands or host the Bible study. That’s what it’s like when we give in to the spiritual struggles facing us. It’s debilitating to see life through a haze of fear, anger, and doubt. How can we share the gospel or speak truth to someone else when we can’t speak it to ourselves? Believing lies is the equivalent to giving up battle ground, except we’re giving up our peace of mind, our confidence in Christ, how tuned in we are to the holy spirit’s leading, how rich our prayer life is, etc. Giving in distracts and prevents us from being 100% healthy and effective for the kingdom.
Like Jess says, someone’s trying to hold back the advancement of God’s kingdom. And this kind of enemy wants to do it however he can, in all the little tiny ways as well as the big ones. If we’re not engaged, if we’re not thinking of all the frustrating moments in our day like spiritual battles, we won’t be prepared to battle properly. We’ll get caught up in our feelings and forget that we have a choice. We’ll be reactionary instead of purposeful.
Realistic living occurs when we tune in to the fact that our actions make waves in a war we cannot see. That’s why the Lord tells us to suit up for it every day (Ephesians 6:10-18). And thankfully, once we see that we’re facing a battle with evil, winning is pretty darn simple because God has given us the very best weapons. The enemy’s best weapon is that we fail to recognize the war in the first place.
I wax eloquent, and if you’re still reading, bless you! So much more came out of that one particular Influence session, not to mention the entire weekend, but these particular thoughts have been on my heart a lot. They’ve inspired me to be more aware of what’s actually going on when I tell myself I’m failing at life or I’m not good enough. I’m in a legit war! And, so are you. Any thoughts on this topic? Tell me. 🙂