Saturday, September 20, 2014

Standing In Spiritual Places

Yesterday, the weather was beautiful so I decided to take my three-year old son, Noah, out to a local park a few miles from our house. He can sometimes become quickly bored with doing the same thing for very long so he took off running into a small field adjacent to the playground equipment. The field was lined with trees and thick shrubbery. As he ran over and stopped beside the treeline, I heard a loud rustling sound coming from within it. He noticed it too as he turned to look into the bushes and see what it was. Being the overly-cautious parent that I am, I called for him thinking that we could safely figure out what it was together. As he took his first step toward me, a large dog jumped out of the shrubbery behind him, barking frantically.

My first instinct was to run to my son but I didn’t want to startle the dog as he was only a few feet from him, beside the bushes. I could see the dog had a few inches of broken chain dangling around its neck as it began to look back and forth at us both and growl. Immediately, I began to pray. I yelled to Noah and told him to just be still. Of course this is impossible for a three-year old (especially in this situation). As the dog continued to snarl and growl, Noah got scared and started to run towards me. As soon as he turned to me, the dog ran towards him. Before I could even take a breath, the dog pounced onto Noah tackling him to the ground with ease about ten feet from me. As my mind instantaneously became clouded with what was unfolding, I could see that the dog had instantly sunk his teeth into Noah’s right leg. For the next several moments everything was seemingly in slow motion. As I ran over towards them, Noah looked up at me with a face that I hope to never see again as long as I live.

After I ran over to him I just froze. I stood beside the commotion and stared, still praying. “God, help us!” I cried out loud. As I stared down, watching the dog pull at Noah’s arms and legs, I begged Jesus to come help us. I didn’t know what else to do so I just continued to pray. I pleaded for God rescue us, to free Noah from this awful event. As the dog persistently bit Noah, I could see that Noah was not looking good. The dog was having his way with him and there was just nothing I could do about it. The scene felt like it went on for hours, even though I know that it was only mere minutes. After a while, the dog stopped and ran off as fast as it had arrived. Weeping, I knelt down and picked up my son’s bloody little body and held him close. As I fell to the ground with him in my arms, I cried out to God, “Why… why did You let this happen?! Why?”

OK. For those who know us personally, please allow me to immediately state, this was entirely fictitious from beginning to end. There was no dog attack and Noah is completely fine. Now please allow me to explain. 

First of all, were you wondering why in the world I didn’t kick the living daylights out of that dog? Why didn’t I beat it like a madman to loose my son? Why did I not do anything more than just stand there and pray? Pray? That’s all I did?

So now for some application of this parable - I am Noah’s earthly defender in the spiritual realm. As bizarre of a statement this is to most Christians, it’s true. Noah has severe anaphylactic allergies that cause him great distress and trouble. When they come, they come quick and powerful. They pounce on him just like the aforementioned dog and oppress him. Some come entirely out of nowhere. For too long my position had been too passive (as in the story above). I might as well just have stood there like I did with the dog. Doing little more than watching it all unfold as a bystander. I’d beg God to help Noah, to help us. I’d ask God why He would allow these terrible occurrences to happen but I’d rarely, if ever take a spiritual stand against the enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy. The moments always pass and then we’d move on. But looking through today’s lens of spiritual understanding, I’m seeing things a bit differently. My wife and I have said from day one, when we realized the seriousness of his allergic reactions, that we simply felt helpless. But I recently made a decision that it would be this way no longer. This resolution was tested almost immediately within days as we were out and Noah began to have trouble breathing. I will be honest, I was no sword-wielding spiritual soldier on his behalf, but something inside of me felt different this time. I chose to set aside my fears and embrace my role as the spiritual head of my family. In myself, of course, I’m weak and entirely incapable of anything. But in Christ, I can stand in places unseen and address the principalities and powers that desire to afflict my son. No sickness or disease or anything else we’d deem detrimental goes without God’s choosing to allow it to come to pass. So it must be addressed as such. That being said, we cannot just casually put up with it as acceptable either.

Trials come to purify us, to give us the opportunity to walk in victory, relying upon strength that is not our own. It’s a mystical paradox isn’t it? We embrace the opportunity to be thrust into a position of reliance upon The Christ yet we wrestle against the powers that unleash all hell against us in order to produce it. It is, without question, a thing to be grasped in our spiritual understanding and not just approached with our natural reasoning. We need to be a spiritual people who walk in an awareness of what is truly affecting us and the ones that we love. To get right to the heart of it, we need to awaken our spiritual senses. Far too often we only assess (improperly) our circumstances with our limited natural senses and understanding. To summarize, in light of the parable above, I need to take a stand against the attacks of the enemy that come against me and my household. I cannot just pray it away, motionless in the spiritual realm. How silly of an analogy it is from where I sit this morning to envision such an attack and only respond with passivity and helplessness. Again, it is not at all about my own strengths or abilities. In Christ alone am I able to stand and seek after a victory over whatever may come. “Lord, help us to see properly and to filter all that we encounter through the eyes of the spirit and an activated mind of Christ. We desperately need Your help. Come quickly.”

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