My family home growing up was a warzone. I never knew when the next bomb would drop~ I just knew it would. There was no bomb shelter, so I had to build one inside myself the best I could. It was there that I lived. I tried to lay low and blend in like camouflage so the enemy would not see me. But how could I call him the enemy? He was my father:
For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8). Such confused little minds my siblings and I had. And how could I live with one of them being seen? My eyes were too full of terrified faces ducking behind arms of cover~ and my ears of cries and screams. How could my chest cavity hold any more pressurized pain? Could I cry out to help them? Could they when the sight was set on me? No- silently waiting it out was the only way. We were all so puny in size and courage. It would have never entered our minds to join forces. Besides, as prisoners of war we were isolated from each other~ unable to confer or console. We were each on our own to survive.
I went into adulthood as a victim. I certainly had been one. I never thought of myself that way~ for I had become outwardly very strong. But when the battles of life came~ I had shell shock. This is the definition of shell shock: Psychological disturbance caused by prolonged exposure to active warfare; being under bombardment. The closer to home the battle came, the more emotionally incapacitated I felt. I got through the battles, but was left with threadbare emotions. Any signs or news of an approaching enemy brought dread to my heart. I would dig in my heels to brace myself so I would appear ready. But inside I was closing my eyes and clinching my teeth hoping the enemy would pass by; or that it would all be over quickly.
Even after coming to know the Lord, I spent most of my years as a Christian still living as a victim inside. When it really came down to it, I always feared what would become of me by the time the battle had ended. Many battles came into my life. I gained a certain kind of resolve and confidence. I saw the Lord conquer the enemy many times. But I continued to be left emotionally ragged when it was all said and done. It all felt so personal~ even though I knew that the battle belonged to the Lord.
But God kept using me in all these battles. Why me? I often said to Him: Lord, You know how weak I am and how soft my heart is~ why don’t you pick someone tougher~ and more unafraid? That did not deter Him at all~ He continued to place me directly in the middle of the battlefield! It reminds me so much of Jeremiah and some of the other prophets. They would cry out to God with their concerns about His plan. God’s responses have always cracked me up. He NEVER apologized for what He was putting them through~ He just lovingly reminded them of who He was and who they were. These kinds of verses helped me greatly over time, but it still remained very hard to accept and fully understand. It was the Lord’s battle to fight~ yet it felt like I was the one being thrown under the bus!~ and by God Himself! Is this what being used by the Lord is all about?
But deep inside I knew God’s love for me~ and I knew He had great wisdom. I really knew He was for me and had very important reasons for doing things the way He did them. So knowing all of that, I would go to the Lord for comfort, which He would always give me. I would seek Him for all my emotional needs~ and He was always there to meet every one of them. And amazingly, this is how I came to trust Him. This was the way deep intimacy developed between me and the Lord.
Over time, the people God sent me alongside of in the battle were closer and closer to home. And this is what made it the most difficult of all. It was not people desiring to be rescued from the enemy, or even consciously aware that they were in enemy hands. Therefore, they would fight violently to remain in the strongholds the enemy had in their lives. In fact, they tried to behave as if I was the enemy~ unable and unwilling to see what God was doing to rescue them from the true enemy. Interestingly this reminds me of a Forrest Gump example.
Forrest’s commanding officer in the war was Lieutenant Dan. He was a seedy but likable character. It seemed that his family history was full of men of poor character~ gaining some sort of nobility by dying on the battlefield. Well, when Lieutenant Dan was very seriously wounded in the war, Forrest saw that he was injured and went to carry him to safety. Lieutenant Dan wanted nothing to do with it. He was furious that Forrest was interfering with his plan to die a noble death (or perhaps to play out a death wish cloaked in nobility). He also was aware of the extent of his injuries~ as he had lost both legs in the bombing. He screamed and yelled and fought, but Forrest picked him up against his will and saved him anyway.
Lieutenant Dan was angry, resentful and bitter for years afterward. He was saved, but was now facing the demons he had never faced. He had to live with himself as even less of a man than he was before. He smoked and drank more heavily than ever, and used women for sex. He spewed out his anger on everyone around him~ it seemed especially strong against Forrest. Forrest just let him have his angry outbursts. Maybe Forrest wasn’t so simple after all? It seemed he knew it was not personal. This wisdom was a long time coming in my journey of being used by the Lord in the battle for the lives of others.
My deepest wounds were those from desertion~ being left on the battleground as a child to fend for and somehow protect myself. So when the Lord used me to help free people very close to my heart, these wounds became exposed. Would they desert me if I followed the Lord’s battle plan to help them? Would they get so angry that I would lose their love? And the reality is~ that is sometimes what happens. For the other person it is a manipulation to try to get you to back down. But if the relationship is lost~ or there is separation for a time~ this is God’s will. Very likely He is protecting you, as well as to make it impossible for the other person’s illness to spread. In addition, the Lord wants that person to know HE is in control~ not them.It’s not that the desertion wounds were not exposed at all when it was someone less involved in my life~ it was just easier to keep clarity when the heat of battle was blazing. But when the person was closer to my heart~ the enemy knew that my outer strength was covering deep inner frailty.
The enemy knew that all he had to do was get someone I really loved to reject and fight against me in my role~ then he might cause me to cave under the pressure. It is only God’s strength that can withstand this. But these were the times that emotionally it became about me versus the battle at hand~ and the person God desired to rescue. Emotionally I went into survival mode. I experienced that all too familiar feeling of pressurized pain in my chest cavity. Instead of the pain fading over the years~ every time someone close withdrew from me as the perceived enemy~ the pain was just as strong as ever. Time does not heal all wounds~ does it? This phrase is not in the Bible. It is God who heals all wounds:
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases (Psalm 103:3). But this comes in ways that only God in His sovereignty knows how to do.
So when the battle was further away from my heart, the less threatening the enemy’s tactics felt. That was great in my eyes, but that just provided a temporary sense of strength. There were demons I had to face in order to be truly free and usable by the Lord under all circumstances. The Lord knew that freedom from victimhood would come not by sheltering me from the war, but rather placing me on the very battleground where it all began.
I didn’t know as a little girl that being born into battle was the very way God said it would be. If I had~ Would it have been so personal? Well, as an innocent little child, not understanding anything, it was very personal. My very personhood was under attack every day of my life. But still, what if I had known God’s truth as a child~ what His Word says about life on this earth? Would I have prepared for battle if I had known these distinctions? Perhaps it could have been the sounds of a victory cry rather than the silent cry of a frightened and timid victim.
Not everyone grew up in a home full of warfare, but doesn’t God really say we are all born on the battleground? This fact has brought me freedom beyond expression. God has unbound me from victimhood with His truth. To God be the glory that I was born on the battleground; I Iive on it; and through the power of God’s mighty love and strength~ will die on it:
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord are loving (Psalm 62:11). He was making me able to love like Him:
My command is this: love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). He kept my heart soft through it all~ so the battle for the lives of others was always about love~ His love through me. God was also adding His unshakable strength to my heart. His steadfast heart beating for mine removed my timidity and fear. But well beyond that, this is what the Lord ultimately needed to teach me:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:15).
For God to be able to truly use me~ I had to know: I AM NOT HERE FOR ME. I am here on earth to have a love relationship with God and Jesus. And to be used absolutely whatever way God chooses~ to free people from captivity. Even if that means being hated by those I am sent to help~ even those I love very much:
I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world (John 17:14). If the world hates you, keep in mind that it has hated Me first (John 15:18).
Remember I am talking about Christians also. Bondage is bondage. When one is deceived~ lies are truth and truth lies. This person will hate the truth you are telling them~ because it hits too close to home for them! The fear and shame of facing it are great. They must push away truth~ they must try to push you away as the teller of truth.
Another tactic the enemy has used along the way to deter me is to persecute me with: Who do you think you are? Do you think you’re better? You think you know so much! You are so self-righteous. This isn’t from God- this is you trying to control things! You’ve got issues too you know! Well, thank God He isn’t using me because He thinks I have no issues! Rather, I have been so many of the places of bondage and oppression that a person can succumb to:
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another (Titus 3:3). And it is only through a deeply abiding relationship with the Lord, will no weapon forged against me succeed now or in the future.
What an awesome privilege this has become in my life~ to finally taste this kind of freedom. Now the cries of my brothers and sisters of childhood have become a battle cry in my heart for my brothers and sisters in Christ~ those who still have enemy strongholds in their lives, as well as for the lost.
It is so very important for you to know that you are here for the very same reason. We were all born on this spiritual battleground of the world, and as Christians we are the forces He uses in the battle. There are casualties of war all around us. There is no time for frivolous things. We are here to be soldiers and warriors to be used by the Lord in His mighty power. His plan for our lives involves how He will use us in the fight. But this must be understood also: People being freed from captivity is no small thing. Whether it is someone who is lost and completely under control of Satan, or a Christian who is trapped in the enemy’s lair~ it is a bloody battle. Not only from the enemy bringing out his arsenal of weapons, but from the very people you are sent to help. Someone who has been deceived, especially when they have been deceived for a very long time~ will very likely fight against you tooth and nail to stay where they are at. But this is also very important to remember. It is really GOD they are fighting against, because they have not come to trust that He will truly take care of their needs. Or they simply will not have anyone including God~ controlling their lives.
So as God heats up the pursuit to save a person from enemy hands~ it will be you who is pushed against in resistance. See why it cannot be about you?
And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man (Genesis 9:5b).
So like Lieutenant Dan, that resistant person does not want to have to face their demons. Denial and blaming others removes responsibility to take a hard look at their life. God wants to lovingly help them do this, but they will have to give up whatever they have a tight grip on in order to receive the help. Because of this, the Lord will undoubtedly have you say and do things the person will absolutely despise. And you are the target for the fiery darts. You will hear the vipers hissing to get you away from who Satan wants to keep as his own.
Some people the Lord has us come alongside of will eventually say yes to freedom God is offering and will be carried in His loving arms to safety. Some will say no even with all the hopefulness you had for them. God does not save them against their will, but He surely will give every opportunity for the person to be humbled and helped. The outcome of the battle is not our concern. Any caring person would love to see all people become free, but some will simply not respond positively to God’s powerful intervention of love.
We are not in this for us, and we are not the savior. We are instruments of the Lord. When He says it is time to let the person be~ to leave them to their evil ways~ you must listen. It could be your friend, your sibling, your parent, your spouse, or your child. God knows what is best. But He will surely comfort you and show you great understanding. He knows it is very difficult to see suffering~ especially those close to us, and to suffer ourselves in the process.
As a vital core of all I am speaking of, prayer needs to be on our lips constantly~ and His Word at our finger tips. When you have told the Lord that you are willing to be used by Him any way He chooses. And you have become willing to lay down your life for your brother~ you are going to be in active duty. You will be in the middle of the battlefield seeing up close grueling warfare. You will hear the groans of the oppressed~ but you will also be spat upon by the very ones you are helping at times. As you pray and open His Word, the Lord will reveal to you the tactics of the enemy that you must know. This will help you understand what is coming at you. He will give you clear and direct orders of exactly how to respond to the tactics. He will keep helping you remember it is about Him and the other person, no matter how much persecution you receive. You will not be bogged down by fear and timidity that only distract and divert. Your old emotions will not kick in because you are so clear in the truth. This doesn’t mean you won’t have twinges of fear, uneasiness, and discomfort. It is only human to have emotions arise~ especially while under attack. But in the clarity the Lord gives you, they will subside quickly with your focus remaining on the battle.
Isn’t this how the prophets and apostles lived? Their entire focus in life was on the battle. They didn’t observe it from afar, and pray in the safety of their arm chair. They knew that they were born on the battleground~ and their whole existence and purpose was to be used by the Lord in the battle. Not retiring at age 55 or 60~ but being used all of their lives~ so that others would come to know the love of God and the amazing freedom and joy in being used in His Kingdo
I can attest to the fact that when the words and actions of others (even plans to harm you) are no longer personal~ it brings such relief. Because there is nothing the enemy does that will touch you. Do you still feel the spit upon your face or hear the cutting words? Yes, but you know Whose you are; you know why they are behaving this way; and you know why you are here. Your confidence in the Lord will be so strong. Your focus will more and more fully be on Him. And there is this amazing paradox: Even with all the bombs dropping; grenades whistling; and minefields waiting to blow you up~ deeper than all the other feelings you may have in the midst of the battle~ you will be so ecstatic to be doing exactly what you were born for!