He Came in Through the Back Door

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He came in through the back door.

No, not singing a tune from Prince here people, but speaking about the subtle tune flowing from the Prince of Darkness, AKA, Satan.

The past month has been a relentless pursuit from the enemy, fought behind the scenes, targeted at my ability to write lessons for an upcoming Bible study.

Initially, it began without any hint of my knowledge.  Allegations accosted my mind, mocked my character, and left me questioning my competency.

“You want to teach, really?”

“What are YOU going to say that will make any difference?”

“You have nothing to offer.”

“Quit already before you embarrass yourself.”

“People will hear you once, and not come back.”

On and on the drone of discouragement seemed to shoot from every angle and exhaust my spirit, leaving me cloudy and disoriented.  I’d sit at my computer and attempt to make sense of my thoughts and press onward, yet it was as if my fingers felt heavy on the keyboard struggling to find their way to letters and words to compile sentences that made sense.

Yet, I kept on.  And as a result, glimmers of hope gradually emerged onto the word document.

Until one particular day, the steady drone of discouragement transitioned into a full-out assault to my wellbeing.

Playing on the heartstrings of my former failures and frailties, a heaviness consumed my heart and impaired all reasonable sense of judgement–

“You did it again.  You made a mistake by quitting your job.”

“You’ve made such a mess of your family already; who are you to help another?”

“What’s the point?”

When, an enemy-induced oppression caused me to sink under a single thought:

“What’s the point of even being alive?”

Enough already.

“SHUT THE HELL UP, SATAN!”

The enemy came in through the back door, and attempted to wreak havoc on my mission.

This morning while on a run, I was reminded of back-to-back, back-door moments that brought clarity to the forefront of my mind.

The first occurred years ago.  It was one of my first speaking opportunities, and to say I was nervous was an understatement.  On the way to said location, I made a quick stop at Target for something which no longer comes to mind.

With bag in hand, I make my way across the parking lot, going through the mechanics of routine, while simultaneously rehearsing my speech.  I push the button which pops the trunk, and my feet nearly collapse underneath me at what I see.   (No, it wasn’t a dead body :))  But, it was something in particular that caused such a shock through my system I entered the luncheon weakened and defeated.

The other opportunity was a retreat, in which I was the entertainment.

Before leaving my house, I walked into one of my daughter’s rooms to snatch a pair of clean socks.  Almost a joke as I opened the closet door to see piles of contaminated clothing cover every bit of floorspace.  Anyway, I reached across the pile to the bin, as my hand felt for the knot suggesting two socks instead of one, when I happened upon something hard and unfamiliar to the touch.  I pulled it out for inspection, and a knot formulated in the pit of my stomach at the sight of the item which again I cannot will not mention.

Suffice to say, my  hope sank lower than I thought possible, and the long drive was accompanied with a knot so deep in my core of my being, I could hardly catch a breath.

But…don’t you love a but in a story…

But, I happened upon something so seemingly insignificant lodged into the corner of a trunk I borrowed from the same daughter, underneath a pile of dust:  a penny.

This may mean nothing, but for me, it was extraordinary.  For months on end, I had what I called, ‘God moments’.  Most of these moments included the accompaniment of a penny.  Too long to travel into on this post, but let’s just say this sole item spoke volumes to my defeated soul, saying:

“Trust me Josie.”

“It will be okay.”

“I see your situation, and you are not without hope.”

“I am in control.”

“I am in your corner with you.”

YES.  We need to be aware of the big-bad bully who is out to steal, kill and destroy–attempting to bring us down for the count.  But…

We have One in our corner much more powerful who squelches the enemy with just a mere mention of his name:  JESUS.

Do you believe this?

This is a battle, whether we recognize it or not.

Truth is, if he succeeds in sidelining my voice, then I lose the possibility of being a participant in the rescue and recruitment of souls for His Kingdom.  I think not.  I will be prayerfully aware of his presence from here on out.

 

 

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The Cover-up

%22Lord, what walls have I erectedto create a barrier to our intimacy?%22

We pull up to the location off the beaten path and I have no idea that this is about to be a life changing moment once I exit my SUV. He parks his little red corvette next to mine. A familiar tune interrupts my train of thought at the appearance of his vehicle from Prince many a moons ago, “Baby you are much too fast…”

We are here to tour a facility that houses wayward girls. The occupants have lived lives much more difficult than one could ever imagine. They have grown up entirely too fast. And they are here to stay still for a while to catch their breath and heal from past experiences that should never have been on their radars at this stage of life.

The purpose of our time there was to see the everyday workings of such a place as this. A member of this facility will be our tour guide. A mere 16 years old, the look of innocence still illuminates her luminous skin. But, underneath the innocent exterior, holds a story of hurt and loss and heartache. We are underway with the head of the facility, an employee, a board member, and our beautiful young host.

I am instantly drawn in by her big, brown eyes I recognize something familiar in them–They are my eyes.

Their look pleads, “please notice me – I am hurting – I am not as good as I portray – I am scared.”

A lump struggles to make its way up my throat warning me of emotional instability underneath my all smiles countenance. “I see you – You are not alone. If I could get you out of here, I would take you home with me.”   She is not much younger than my own daughters. Left here amongst mere strangers. “Where is your family?”

An urgency to assist this adolescent from the captivity of her surroundings catches me completely off guard. What is wrong with me, I barely know her?

Even though the talk is on the surface, she feels the connection also. I can just feel it. We near the end of the tour and our tour guide is by my side like glue. I desperately want to help her. Not uncommon as I want to help all the helpless souls young and old, human or animal.

Somewhere during our time together though, she discovers I am writing a book. Questions pour out about what it is about. I inform her it is a book on life and death. Still, I find it difficult to explain what the book is about. Almost like I cannot seem to put together the right words. Scary to think I am an actual writer if I cannot figure out how to explain the book in a sentence or two. When a seemingly innocent statement is thrown my way–

“Maybe you can write about this place in your book.” I am certain she is speaking of the place itself, but it was as if her words penetrated a place deep within underneath the surface and deep into my soul.

“Write about the place you lost your serenity.”

Not to be confused upon quick glance with virginity. All I have to remark on that is it was one quick tale in the tailgate of a Ford Escort wagon. No, my serenity. It was the name of the building on the tour we stopped outside of but were not allowed to enter for some reason.

Serenity.

The man explains in entirely too much detail the name of a building on the grounds during our tour: Serenity, serenity, serenity. That peaceful place where all healing takes place. I am initially irritated by either his talking or the word itself. Serenity. I got it. Dude, I understand this is the name of the place.

Serenity: A state of being; calm, peaceful, untroubled.

Oh, that is not at all what I am experiencing even though you would never know it by my demeanor.

How do I enter serenity? I know it is not a building, but I wonder if that is the place that I have not allowed God to enter and excavate. That place that is off-limits to all. The place deep within I attempt to keep a ‘keep out’ sign on, afraid what I will encounter.

I have traveled far away from serenity. I am not sure I know how to get there. I am not certain I would know serenity if it stood in front of me with a neon sign.

Maybe this is not entirely accurate. I had a dream not too long ago of a white wall. On it was a mass of scribbles strewn about as a toddler would if opportunity arose.

The scribbles were in stark contrast to the wall. I feel panic over the mess, and attempt to cover it up. As with dreams, my solution is already in hand.  For this particular remedy, I choose a grayish hue one would find on display at West Elm or Crate and Barrel.

With roller in hand, I attempt to coat the wall with the thick latex. At first, it appears to work as I am awash with momentary relief as I step back and inspect my work.  Only then do I notice the scribbles begin to appear through my makeshift remedy.

Frantic, I try again. Faster my arm moves the roller about, only to discover yet again the black script return uninvited.

I awake a mess.

Immediately, I sense this wall has some sort of spiritual significance–

Like a vain attempt to cover my mess under layers instead of addressing the issue of the scribble itself.

Instead, I layer an all-is-well coat of wellbeing.

 

Appearances deceive our hearts to believe it is better to contain our issues instead of acknowledging our needs.

 

As a result, invisible walls erect around my heart, creating a barrier between my God and me—and inevitably others.

So, I hope you ask this question for yourself as I do today:

“Lord, what walls have I erected that have created a barrier between our intimacy?”