A week ago, we were presented with an opportunity that I have been praying for for literally half my life (a looooong time in dog years). So it might not surprise you to know that this week, things really hit the fan for our family. I would be exaggerating if I said that everything that could go wrong did (Nobody died. The house is still standing). But I would not be exaggerating if I said that this has been our worst week of parenting. So what is really going on?
I said it might not surprise you, because this is exactly what many of us expect. We have been taught that spiritual attack is the natural consequence of spiritual breakthrough. We anticipate that our enemy will try to steal back any ground we have won. We admonish each other and remind ourselves to be vigilant.
This is no longer my view.
I’m not saying I’m right, but my perspective on this as changed, and I think the shift has been a healthy one. I used to see spiritual attack around every corner. Anything that wasn’t advancing God’s kingdom (according to me) was an attack. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that an accuser exists. I believe that demons are real. But I believe they are already defeated. All they can do at this point (post resurrection) is lie to me. That’s no small thing. After all, isn’t deception what got us into this whole mess anyway? But, if my car breaks down, I’m not really interested in giving the devil credit for that. I just don’t think he deserves it anymore.
Let’s face it: we live in a fallen world. Stuff beaks. Stuff goes wrong. It doesn’t have to be Satan attacking me or God testing me. It happens. But when it happens, God is there, ready to redeem it. And Satan is there ready to introduce a lie that could linger long after the event itself. So we have a choice. Which lens do we want to see the world through?
That said, I do think God tests us. But not because He is unsure of how we will handle the test. He tests us for our own benefit, so we can know what we’re made of. I don’t think God causes tragedy or even inconvenience. He doesn’t have to. There are 7 billion people on this planet, and each one is fully capable of causing problems. So a test is more of an opportunity than some kind of divine scourge. It’s a chance to agree with him about our circumstances.
So what is God’s take on my rotten week? We have been in a spiritual wilderness for several years. At least 5, maybe more like 8. One of my favorite bible verses for part of that time was
“Who is is coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on the arm of her beloved?” Song 8:5
I’ve known for a long time that when I come up out o the wilderness, I will not be spiking the ball and high fiving my team- mates. I will be leaning. I will not get out of the wilderness on my own strength. So when things were going wrong today, so wrong that I started to doubt whether we had any business taking on a new challenge, I felt God saying, “Go leaning or go home”. In other words, if you’re not willing to lean on me in these circumstances, don’t bother. This new phase has the potential to be so much more fulfilling, but it will be so much more demanding. It will be just plain harder.
I’m not sure I have what it takes. I’m sure I don’t have what it takes. How hard am I willing to lean?
When things get bad, who gets the credit? Who gets the blame? And how hard are you willing to lean?