Updated: Jul 16, 2019
I don't know what your experiences have been with spiritual warfare, but something that I've learned recently is that spiritual warfare doesn't always manifest itself as the palpable, dense, apparent feeling of oppression I have often felt when I know there is darkness near. Sometimes--actually, it's quite often--spiritual warfare takes form through guerrilla tactics, sneaking around and disguising itself as anything but a battle. It's then that the war is at its most dangerous, like carbon monoxide slowly poisoning a house without a scent or sign that it is there to kill the inhabitants.
As I have been preparing to start my mission work in the Czech Republic, I have been under serious attack without any indication that I've been in danger. As a creatively minded person with (undiagnosed) ADHD, keeping a schedule and planning for the future is a monumental challenge in my life. I have often envied those who find it easy to turn their minds to matters of organization when pre-planning is involved and it has consistently been the biggest insecurity in my life ever since I was a kid. I am often discouraged by this weakness in myself and rather than asking for help when I feel overwhelmed, I listen to lies that both feed my pride and sink me lower into waves of shame. Thoughts will come to mind like, "You're 24 already, you should know how to do stuff like this by now" and "Literally everyone else has a grasp on their own schedules and budgets, what's wrong with you?" and "It's really not that hard, Christy. You need to toughen up and start making the right choices for yourself. It's just a matter of willpower."
These lies had kept me from asking the people around me to give me a hand because, as you can probably tell from those phrases, the feeling of crushing guilt, shame, and embarrassment had built up my pride to the point that I didn't realize how utterly untrue they were. It wasn't until I felt like I was in crisis mode a few weeks ago that I finally cried out to God in my room and admitted that I have been keeping myself from asking for help, not only from the people in my life but from God himself. The next time I went to my church small group after that, I opened up to the women in my small group about how completely overwhelmed I was feeling and how much I needed practical help to accomplish the preparation I needed to get done.
I'm now three weeks out from that emotional night at small group and God has called upon exactly the right people to encourage me, help me come up with some real, tangible plans, and propel me into getting myself actually prepared for my big move rather than just talking about how and then overwhelming myself in the mile long to do list.
But here's an important detail I don't want you to miss: when I was finally ready to give up my pride, I cried out to God first. He was the one who needed my surrender, not my schedule or budget, not my family, not my financial supporters, not the people in the Czech Republic. And just as soon as I did, this warfare that had been attacking me in wave after powerful wave for months, disguising itself as my old, familiar insecurities that I just needed to "deal" with, became a battle I could not only fight, but WIN.
The past few weeks, I've come to understand much more what God meant when He wrote through Paul in Ephesians 6:12 where it says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." In the past when I've read this, I've seen it through the filter of "spiritual warfare is when a loved one is dying or you're broke and you don't know where you're going to live or your country's own government is attacking you for your faith." And yes, those are examples of spiritual warfare, but so is the Enemy using your own weaknesses to isolate you and make you feel helpless as well as unworthy of help.
That doesn't mean we have an excuse when we screw up or we stumble back into old habits; we still have to face the consequences of our choices when we're disobedient to God. But our Enemy is also sneaky and he seeks to kill and destroy us, sometimes by using the battles we've been fighting within ourselves our entire lives. The key to defeating it is to drop our pride by first asking for help from the only One who can conquer our battles against our flesh and overcome our own selves, and then asking for help from our brothers and sisters in Christ whom God has given us for loving accountability. Being vulnerable to God as well as the people who help you grow in Christ is called doing life together.
What are the areas in your life that have been attacking you? Have they been disguising themselves as something you didn't recognize as warfare? I hope you will pray for God to reveal to you your battles with full clarity and that you would cry out to Him for help so He can win the battle for you.
Thanks for reading, friend. You are so loved!