I love the old Westerns. Whenever I am home in the afternoon and have some time to relax, I turn on Me-TV and enjoy Gunsmoke or The Rifleman or Rawhide. What is it about these shows?
Yes, they take me back to my childhood.
Yes, they speak of a simpler time when right was right and wrong was wrong.
But also, and maybe above all, the good guys always win.
Often, there’s a scenario where the poor dirt farmer in the story gets bullied and threatened by some heartless, powerful, rich rancher or tycoon of some kind … maybe to sell or give up his land at some ridiculous price. Why? For the water rights or railroad access or … You get the idea. But eventually, and often not until the end of the story, the ultimate “good guy” rescues the underdog by standing up to the bully and overcoming him. The bully then wimps out or is destroyed. I love that!
And I also love that in real life! And come on … you do too if you are honest.
Well, as believers and lovers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have a bully … the “bully of all bullies.” God’s arch-enemy and therefore, ours (that’s why he is our enemy, you know)! Satan and his forces! And I’ve been thinking about this lately because that bully has recently caught me off-guard.
Last week I was at a 3-day conference, doing a workshop and selling my book to homeschoolers. I came into the conference already tired from several months of an already packed schedule. From the very start, there seemed to be a “gray cloud” hanging over the entire thing for me (so unlike last year). Thoughts like, “I can’t do this.” “If I could just pack up and go home, I would.” “This is too hard talking to people all day, day after day” etc. etc. So, discouragement, pessimism, doubt, and blankness toward the presence of the Holy Spirit grabbed hold of my soul.
Finally, by the end of the second day, I began to ask the Lord about it.
Was there something He was trying to tell me?
Am I “done” in some way? Had I done something wrong?
That’s when the still small voice of the Spirit began to break through with one word, “Opposition.” Opposition? Really? Spiritual Opposition?
Of course! And I hadn’t recognized it! The bully was doing a good job of bullying.
But then the solution also came:
“Stand firm in the Lord and in the strength of His might!”
So as I said a resounding “NO, I’m standing in my Christ,” the bully wimped away in the presence of my Lord, the King, the Conqueror, the ultimate “Good Guy.” The gray clouds gradually began to lift and the glorious peace of Christ reigned.
I hadn’t realized that the darkness, the depletion, the discouragement, the yuck feeling didn’t come from myself unaided. They had been nudged along by the bully powers of darkness on my exhausted soul and body … and I had caved!
But now, in the manifest presence of my Lord, I could walk into my day in light rather than darkness, clarity instead of confusion. I was still exhausted and even had to sit for half of the day, but the heaviness had lifted. Even though my circumstances hadn’t changed, my heart attitude had.
Dear brothers and sisters, are you experiencing darkness, discouragement, confusion, or lethargy? Shame, false guilt, hopelessness, or despair? Don’t be ignorant of the bully’s schemes like I was until the Spirit broke through. It’s an admonition easy to forget or discount altogether. The tricky thing is that he will come with all kinds of tactics at our most vulnerable times … as in times of exhaustion, relational conflict, failures, disappointment, chronic illness, and uncertainty.
Listen to these Scriptures that point us in the right direction:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7 ESV
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God [which is Jesus Himself], that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God . . .” – Ephesians 6:10-17 ESV
Remember, the bully has his schemes (His favorites are lies and accusation/condemnation). But don’t be his next victim. Consider yourself dead to his tactics, because you ARE! And you are alive in the Conquering King.
So resist and watch him wimp away in the presence of your Indwelling Hero. Amen!