Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Resistance

When my friend Janene volunteered as a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, she used to talk about how she experienced a sort of resistance nearly every time she was scheduled to work. She would feel ill, or would be tired, or would have a hard day at her regular job. There was almost always something that discouraged her from going to the pregnancy center. She also talked about how much she loved being there once she got there, once she pushed past the obstacles.

I have worked with the Wednesday night kids' programs at my church for several years. For several years, I have experienced the same sense of resistance that Janene felt in her counseling job. Wednesday night rolls around and I am tired. Headaches develop frequently on Wednesday afternoons. When I worked at the hospital, Wednesdays were my busiest days. For the last several months, however, I have taken a smaller role in the Wednesday night activities, more behind the scenes, not working directly with the kids. And for several months, I have not experienced the usual resistance.

This morning, Elise woke up an hour and a half earlier than usual. I have changed three diapers in as many hours (common when she was a newborn, but not at 21 months!). Elise has been testing my patience and my consistency all morning. I am tired. Tonight I will be working directly with the kids at church. Coincidence?

I don't mean to sound all heebie-jeebie, but I believe in spiritual warfare, and I don't think that the resistance felt by myself and Janene is fake. I think it is very real. And you know, it actually really helps me to realize that. To know that my headache may not just be a headache, and that Elise's early waking on this day when I will be out late was probably not a coincidence. It helps to know that the way to combat the trials of this day is not with Excedrin and a nap (although I may employ those remedies as well), but with prayer.

C.S. Lewis observed that we make two mistakes in our beliefs about evil spirits. He said the first mistake is that we ignore them, or deny their existence. The second mistake is that we see them behind every rock and tree. I don't want to make either mistake. I want to be observant and be able to recognize when my family or I are being attacked or oppressed; but I don't want to live on edge, thinking that finding the bread is moldy when I wanted a sandwich is a sign that I am under spiritual attack.

When I think I may be running into spiritual resistance, I find that the joy and peace and victory of overcoming that resistance is greater than the usual satisfaction of following through on a commitment. What I mean is that when I think I am having a bad Wednesday, and I don't want to go and play with 40 kids, and I go anyway, I'm always glad I went; I enjoy the satisfaction of having kept my word. But when I recognize that there is something - someone - trying to keep me from going...well, first of all, that motivates me to go. Not going would not just be "taking time for myself" - an idea that I think we as Christians need to be very careful with - it would be surrendering a battle. So when I feel that resistance and I go anyway, making it through until the end of the evening leaves me feeling joyful and victorious. I'm usually still tired, but that's to be expected. I am, after all, fighting a spiritual battle through the confines of a human body.

I was just talking about this with a friend this morning. She commented that it's encouraging, in a way, to view our trials, even the minor ones, from a spiritual perspective, because to do so is to recognize that we have a hope that is greater than ourselves and our own limited capabilities. I hope you will be encouraged, as I have been, to fight your battles not only with the physical tools that God has given us - I'll be picking up my sword of Excedrin and shield of rest today - but also with the more powerful spiritual tools that have been provided for our good.

2 comments:

lindiepindie said...

My attitude did change when I realized that there was something spiritual going on EVERY Sunday morning when we were getting ready for church. Hubby and I hardly ever argue and early in our marriage, I would find myself irritated every Sunday AM. We can't ignore it. How do we resist the Devil if we are pretending he isn't there?

amandajean said...

oh, you could relate, then to our crazy Sunday mornings when my husband was leading worship at our church. not fun. the trip home was always much more pleasant. I know that battle of which you speak.