My family and I were enjoying a peaceful dinner while on vacation this week when I received the text. A dear friend appeared to have voluntarily gone “off the grid,” with no word to the ones closest to her. To say my heart sank is an understatement. Though I tried to push it to the back of my mind so I could be fully present with my family, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
This is a young woman who had the joy of Jesus written on every inch of her face. Despite a difficult life as a result of bad choices of the past, Jesus had set her free. I watched as she endeavored to love Him with every fiber of her being, despite the odds stacked against her and the pressures of life seemingly unrelenting. Just a short month prior, I marveled as she intentionally tried to be a witness and share Jesus with coworkers. She desired to help others find freedom in the Savior who rescued her. And she had the most humble, teachable spirit of anyone I’ve ever met.
Oh, how I love her.
My whole vacation was clouded by my worry for her. I went to bed each night pleading for her safety, begging God to meet her where I couldn’t. If she wouldn’t (or couldn’t) answer my calls or texts, I knew the One who loves her more than I do could reach her in a way that I was unable.
What troubles me about this whole situation is that I truly believe she is where she is because the Enemy saw her as a threat, and he lay in wait, ready to pounce on an area of vulnerability.
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. -1 Peter 5:8 HCSB
What makes me think I’m immune from a similar attack? You see, most of the time I think I’m impenetrable to the enemy’s schemes. Sure, I sin just like anyone else in the flesh. But I don’t fear being suckered in so deep into a lifestyle of sin that I run away from my Savior.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! -1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV
Almost ten years ago, my close friend Michael was killed in Iraq. If I’m remembering the details correctly, an insurgent climbed into his tank and began shooting. Michael had armor protecting himself, but the bullet penetrated between a gap in the armor, killing him instantly.
I may think my armor is strong, but the truth is, the enemy knows where my gaps are. He knows where to hit me with great likelihood that I’ll fall.
Do I know where my gaps are?
I can name a few, but one I’ll share with you is my tendency toward depression. I haven’t dealt with this in years, but when I did, I remember darkness so thick covering me that I couldn’t see the light. I felt completely lost, and God seemed so far from me, too far from my grasp. Should I fall into depression again, who’s to say that I might not find myself vulnerable to harmful, destructive, ungodly behaviors?
I don’t understand why God allows the enemy to have his way with his children at times, as we see both in Job and in Peter’s sifting.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NIV
As Beth Moore says in her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, sometimes – like Peter – we need a little sifting.
But other times I believe we simply underestimate the power of the Enemy. If we are threatening the Enemy’s kingdom, you’d better believe we’ll be attacked, whether as an individual or as a church. Satan isn’t going to stand by while we go charging against the gates of Hell.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:18
My heart has not stopped pleading to God on behalf of my friend and sister in Christ. But her situation is also a wake-up call to me. We must be alert! We must ask God to show us where the gaps in our armor lie. Could they be in:
- past sin (even forgiven sin reveals a weakness in our hearts)
- sin against us
- striving after things of the world
- unanswered prayer
- a spiraling situation beyond our control
May I ask you, dear reader, to pray for my friend? In my prayers for her, this verse passed my lips multiple times; may I ask you to pray the same on her behalf?
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 NIV
May I also ask you to be alert? Take a look at yourself and ask God to reveal the gaps in your armor. I’ll leave you with one of my friend Michael’s favorite passages:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. – Ephesians 6:10-13
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you today.