Night and Day
I want to capture what God is doing in my heart and mind while it is still fresh. The contrast between yesterday morning and this morning is stark, like night and day. Yesterday morning I literally writhed in confusion, fear, inner turmoil and demonic assaults that kept escalating. I could not find any peace all day long and I could not eat a single bite of food.
This morning I woke up in the peace of God after a restful sleep like I have not had in weeks. I woke up in gratitude for the protection of God from the mental harassment I experienced yesterday and began communing with God about what He wanted me to do now. I have not appreciated peace so much as I do today after the frightening attacks that I endured all day yesterday.
(During His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus) would not force Providence to come to His rescue, and thus fail of giving us an example of trust and submission. (CTr 194)
On the next page I find a fascinating definition of ministry. (The angels) now came and ministered to the Son of God as He lay like one dying. He was strengthened with food, comforted with the message of His Father's love and the assurance that all heaven triumphed in His victory. He returned from the wilderness to proclaim with power His message of mercy and salvation. (p. 195)
I am listening for God to instruct me what I should do now. He has clearly redeemed me from the pit of snakes, the terrors and mental/emotional attacks of the enemy and has led me to repentance, not through fear but by a demonstration of His kindness through another human being. I want to stay firmly in this grace that is surrounding me right now. I am all too aware that my mind is wired with habits to think in other directions and I pray for healing and for the mind of Christ to dwell in me.
In the statement above I catch a glimpse of maybe what God has in mind for my future. In the power of grace and my own testimony of what God is doing in my life I may experience this same power as I reveal His mercy and explain what His salvation is really all about.
I am choosing to now submit to authority differently, but not because I was forced to do so through fear. That is not to say there wasn't plenty of that around. Fear was so intense in my heart that it drove me to the point of despair even of life itself at times. It gave demons access to torment me day and night without relief until I was frozen in indecision and could not discern the voice of God from all the other screaming voices in my head. But it was not fear that overpowered me to submit to authority because my flesh has been trained from a very early age to defy authorities internally even if I am forced to conform externally.
No, it was not fear that brought me to a place of repentance. Just like Paul said in Romans 2, it was kindness that caught me by surprise and that disarmed my suspicion and resistance. And this is a crucial point that I never want to forget. I want my own life to become a source of consistent kindness in all of my dealings with everyone. I have spent my whole life living under the law while learning all sorts of wonderful things about grace. But I realized that my heart was not in sync with my head and I was praying that God would do whatever it took to get my heart to catch up.
That, of course, is a very hazardous prayer to make if one is more concerned with avoiding pain than in getting real. But I am tired of being double-minded and not receiving very much from God. I want the real thing, I want a genuine new birth experience, I want to live fully in the presence of a loving Father and be able to allow His love to ravish my heart and to make me a blessing to everyone I meet.
I am realizing that what has happened for me is that while escaping one kind of legalism in religion I found myself getting more deeply immersed into another form of legalism. The patriot and sovereign movements generally approach life by trying to use the laws to get to freedom around the corruption of the political machinery in place that keeps everyone enslaved. This movement has all sorts of lofty and noble-sounding reasons to engage in this approach and seems often to even be the moral high ground. The motives involved are often purported to be a desire to return this country back to a more ideal relationship between government and people, but it is in fact a very subtle form of legalism. This is because their methods are to decode the existing laws to discover how to beat the corruption in the system and force those in power to recognize the freedoms due to the human beings under their control.
The problem with this is that the corruption in our government is so pervasive and backed up so strongly by force of arms that it becomes a never-ending struggle to research and apply hundreds of details, laws, formulas and strategies that are ever changing just to try to keep the counterfeit justice system from swallowing one alive. After awhile it becomes obvious that trying to achieve freedom by using the laws and trying to enforce them against the ones in power is very much like trying to find salvation through application and perfect performance of the law. There is no mercy, no grace and no love involved in this. It is just another version of legalism except being carried out in the political arena instead of the religious one.
Even though the facts are often true in this way of living – more true in fact than the supposed reasons that the counterfeit system operates under – it becomes a decoy to consume all of one's time, energy, resources and emotional strength just to keep afloat. Meanwhile the spiritual life becomes stunted and even perverted into believing that because we are taking the moral high ground relative to those we are trying to oppose that we must be doing what God wants us to do. This too is one of the typical deceptions that goes with legalistic thinking, that keeping the law the right way will bring freedom. But when I look around at people who have been involved in this for years I still don't see anyone really enjoying freedom like they are hoping to achieve. On the contrary, most of the people involved are finding themselves in protracted legal battles, in prison, in loss of their houses and property and becoming more and more angry at those who are abusing them.
This effect is emotionally devastating to the kind of peace that God desires for His children to be enjoying. It gives one a false sense of morality and assurance that they are on the side of right. This is exactly the attitude that all legalists have whether in religion or otherwise. It causes a person to put their confidence in what they are doing and in their knowledge of law instead of in a relationship with a God who promises to take care of them as they submit themselves to His ways and His authority.
When I finally came to the place where the tension between these two ways of approaching life became an outright pitched battle inside my head, I discovered that I had lost the protection of God over me in some way and found my head the playground for demonic voices taunting each other at increasingly pitched levels taking both sides of the arguments. It became so intense that I was quickly moving toward a nervous breakdown before my pastor intervened and helped me perceive what was really going on from heaven's point of view.
During this time of intense internal harassment I was filled with increasing fear and foreboding. I couldn't bring myself to make a decision about what direction to take and feelings of hopelessness and even occasional hints of suicide began to appear in my thoughts. I was starting to realize that this was untenable, I simply could not go on very long at all in this condition. I felt nearly as trapped if not worse than I felt in previous days when I was externally trapped.
Fear could force me to a place where I knew I had to make a decision but it could not empower me to actually make a valid decision. And any decision I might have made based on fear would have produced a view of myself that I would be ashamed of and would have felt like a coward. Fear is a terrible motive for making decisions and yet it is the most common way that we try to get people to decide things.
But when grace, genuine caring, kindness and respect were shown to me my fears began to subside, my brain began to calm and I found myself able to think rationally and seriously consider making choices that I could hardly imagine making not long before. I found my relationship to God being reexamined in new light and could see things that were obscured before. My pride and prejudice became more evident and my lack of faith suddenly became very obvious much to my shock.
But what was most evident to me was the presence of the grace and kindness of God toward me and that had a surprising but powerful effect of softening my heart and refreshing my mind. As I reviewed all my options and struggled with all the pros and cons of my situation, I relied on reminders of what God has revealed to me about Himself over the past few years and chose to trust Him this time even though I still did not have all the answers that I desired. As I did so the peace of God began to quickly take over where only minutes before I had only known terror. The next 24 hours have been such a contrast that it seems obvious to me in reflection that I made the right decision.