Monday, January 18, 2016

The Strong Hand

            “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)
            As I have gotten older, I have struggled more and more with “depression.”  And I think I am finally realizing why it keeps hitting me.  As I have grown closer to the Lord and have experienced more of life, I have grown more and more discontent with what life has to offer.  And I long for more of God.  More than He is willing to give me right now.  I want to see more of His glory and power.  I want to hear from Him more.  I want more answers to prayer, and I get confused when it doesn’t happen because I feel like I have grown so much in my understanding of prayer.  (And yet, the more I learn, the more I realize how big and mysterious God and prayer and faith is.)  I want more peace and joy and deep contentment, yet I know I cannot find it in anything this life has to offer.  And so, in a way, my “depression” comes from my deep desire for the eternal, for Jesus to come back again and make everything right and take us with Him to our real home.  I am truly understanding the “they were aliens and strangers” verse (Hebrews 11:13).  I’m just passing through here.  I want to be home!
            Yet, this is where God has me right now.  My job is to be here, to share His love and draw others to Him.  To live Christ for other people so that I can help them find eternal life in Him.  To delight in Him while in a “strange land” where I don’t really belong.  And to do my best to do my best every day, for His Kingdom and His glory.  While it is still called “today” and while I still have a chance to help lost people. 
            Anyway, back to my point for this post.  The other day, I was thinking about how much I hate the depression that settles on me.  How much I wish I enjoyed this life, even if it can’t be all that I want it to be.  Usually at night, I lay there, straining to hear God’s voice, praying for Jesus to come back soon, wondering why prayer seems like such a let-down sometimes and why life has to be so . . . well . . . what it is. 
            And the other day, I didn’t really know what to pray.  I was kinda tired of praying, of asking for things, telling Him my concerns, sharing my thoughts.  And so I asked God to speak to me, to tell me anything He wanted to tell me.  I have been desperate for His touch, any touch from Him.  And I guess I wanted to listen, instead of talk.  Because talking wasn’t getting me anywhere or helping me feel better.  Life was still blah. 
            And as I laid there thinking of my deep desire for Him and the depression that I feel because life is so unfulfilling (in the deepest, truest, most eternal sense), I remembered a dream/vision that I had years ago during the 5 months of demonic harassment that I went through (in the post “Supernatural Stuff and the Armor of God”).
            I think of this more as a vision than a dream.  That’s how it seemed to me.  But I was “dreaming” that there was a demon in the room, hovering about a foot over me in a cloud of black smoke as I slept.  I could feel the intense hatred radiating from him, as though he wanted to reach out and violently slash me to pieces with just a few powerful swipes.  I could tell that he could cause serious, fatal damage, but that he was prevented from doing so by an invisible force.  An invisible wall of protection around me.  But I had no doubt about his power and his hatred for me.  I could feel it from a foot away.  And then, I saw these long, black arms reach out to grab me.  And just as he touched my shoulders, wanting to violently shake me, I immediately felt my body enveloped in electricity and I woke up and called out “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.”  And the electricity subsided.
            Imagine that someone was holding the chains of about a dozen ravenous lions, tigers, pit-bulls, etc.  And they are all just inches away from you, viciously growling and barking, violently straining against their chains, swiping at you, trying to tear free so they can rip you to shreds.  That is how this vision felt.  That is what the demon felt like he could do and would do to me, if he had his way. 
            All believers are just inches away from violent, hate-filled, powerful, vicious “lions” wanting to devour us.  But yet, a Strong Hand holds the chains and keeps them back.  Even the trials and tragedies that do get to us, that are allowed by God, are just tiny little swipes of a lion’s nail compared to what would happen if God let go of the chains.  If Satan had full access to us!
            [And we have a responsibility to be careful about how we live.  Because we can create “open doors” and “welcome mats” for Satan, giving him permission to mess with us.   
            “and do not give the devil a foothold.”  (Ephesians 4:27)
            “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)
            Another version of the Bible says, “seeking whom he may devour.”  And I like that one better.  Because that is saying that he’s not just looking for anyone to devour, but for those who he may devour, who he has a ”right” to devour.  He looks for those people who give him “open doors” into their lives because they are not living with self-control and they are not alert to the ways they give him a foothold.] 
            As I remembered this vision/dream, it dawned on me how much more thankful and at peace I would feel every “unfulfilling” day if I lived in an awareness of just how protected I am by God.  Just how much He keeps demons and Satan in check. 
            But I have failed to live in thankfulness for the Strong Hand holding the chains.  I have failed to remember daily just how protected I am by my Heavenly Father.  Even if He feels far away most of the time, He is always right there, surrounding me.  Guarding me.  Keeping me safe. 
            Instead of being consumed with “depression” that life isn’t what I want it to be and that God isn’t doing all that I want Him to do, I need to live in constant thankfulness that life isn’t what it could be and that He never lets go of the chains.  He is watching over me and protecting me and caring for me more than I will ever realize (until eternity).  And that should make me grateful and joyful every blessed day of my life!

            “Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”  (Psalm 9:10)

            “But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.  I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.”  (Psalm 3:3-6)      

            “I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;  my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”  (Psalm 18:1-3)

            “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. . . . Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”  (Psalm 62:5-8)