It’s already been a couple of weeks since I’ve written. It’s difficult to believe how quickly time moves past you when you’re in the thrusts of commitments. The past three weeks have held two large commitments for me: speaking at the Willow Creek Women’s Retreat and co-leading my third year of Prom, which occurs tomorrow.
I love to have commitments, tasks to accomplish… especially when I love what I’m committed to do and look forward to the event at hand. I can say this wholeheartedly for the two events that I’ve just mentioned: while they are completely different, I love them both!
During the course of the last two weeks, I’ve seen the Lord move in mighty ways and equally watched the evil one try to discourage and tempt me to despair. I simply want to share those details with you today in hopes that you too can be encouraged and challenged by the recent events of my life.
It was my absolute pleasure to speak at the annual Willow Creek Women’s Retreat this year! There are few things I enjoy more than being in front of a group of women sharing truths from God’s Word with them. The time leading up to the retreat was unique because I distinctly remember this nearly tangible peace that had washed over me. I had been worried about working that day and then traveling to the retreat center after school, needing to have energy for that evening’s session. But that day at work was smooth as could be. My mind worked clearly; I accomplished the tasks to be done with ease. And I experienced no nerves on my way to the retreat center. (My sweet husband had offered to drive me there so that I could practice on the way.) This type of peace only comes from the Lord, and I knew that the Holy Spirit was offering me protection leading me into that weekend.
At the culmination of our wonderful weekend together, I arrived home only to shortly fall asleep – exhaustion had overtaken me. It was after I awoke from my nap that I sensed a darkness about me. It was obvious that the evil one wanted me to focus on all of my past failures, parading every fear and failure through my brain, in hopes that I would grasp onto his condemnation and quickly forget the nature of the Lord I had just shared about and prayed to with my sisters.
By God’s grace, I was able to recognize his taunting and refuse to accept his condemnation. And so shortly after that I began a battle with a headache…that lasted for the next 24 hours. (Being in my second trimester of pregnancy, I had initially attributed it to that, but having not experienced another one since, I’m wondering if it was something else.)
Fast forward to this week. It’s Prom week at Des Moines Christian School – a fun week full of wonderful joys. And the great thing about working at a Christian school is that we can invite students from outside our school to see how Prom operates when we’re trying to live to bring God glory in even our dances. And I love being part of it.
But the week of, the busiest days, have been riddled with hardship. Of the four women who have been leading the team, one unexpectedly lost her father-in-law early this week, one finally sold her family’s home in anticipation of their big move this summer, and one called me two nights ago to tell me she had broken her toe so badly she’d need to stay home for at least the next day.
I slowly watched as nearly all of my support team has been wrenched away from me for various, serious reasons. I felt alone. And here’s where again the evil one enters and wants me to fear and panic over the details of this event. But I have a choice: remember the God I serve or kowtow to the devil’s schemes by giving into this fear and panic.
I choose to trust the Lord. Over and over and over again throughout the day, when the evil one wants me to accept his condemnation, fear for the day, doubt God’s love, etc, I choose to trust the Lord.
And here’s the big idea lesson I’ve taken away from these two events: when trying to accomplish something that glorifies the Lord, we can expect challenges to come - physical, emotional, or spiritual. But then we know the enemy’s plan. And we are wise to prepare for it.
1 Peter 5:8-9 states that we are to “be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
I’m always cautious to call what I battle daily “sufferings.” It has such a serious connotation – one into which I don’t believe I fully fit.
However, I want to consider this. The devil wants us to focus on ourselves and our own shortcomings rather fulfill the task to bring Him glory. And when the devil chooses to thwart our plans, we can quickly become the recipient of suffering.
Let me leave you with this: God is sovereign. God is trustworthy. God doesn’t change. Period – no matter what lies get thrown across your mind or temptations you have to doubt Him. His way is worth it – always. So expect the challenges, and battle on!