By Carolyn Oliveira
There seems to be a moment or moment’s in people’s life where the ‘world’ as you know it becomes something else. You see the world in a different light, life just feels different. It is extraordinary how your mind and heart transforms into seeing the world differently sometimes in an instant. These pivotal moments can define you, or even can RE-define you. This can look like so many different things: Falling in love, or it could be the loss of a loved one unexpectedly, or when one experiences betrayal. Transformation can even start with travel, a song or a deep soulful conversation. Depending on the noise level in your heart and mind, it is the astounding gift we are given to where we are able hear what is meant to be heard in the moment, the lesson, the direction, listening or watching with grace in our hearts.
Physiologically, one can experience when feeling loved: light and fresh – I always imagine a young woman in an old movie clutching a bouquet of spring flowers gazing into the horizon. The adverse image, of course, when one feels pain- the visual of one clutching their chest in the darkness. We will all go through the light and the dark in our lives, the human struggle and wrestle against the ‘enemies’.
Consider for a moment that this struggle, the ‘battle’ if you will – that is “…. occurring in the visible physical world is directly connected to the wrestling match being waged in the invisible, spiritual world,” Priscilla Shirer writes in her bible study, The Armor of God.
Priscilla continues to write, that “your real enemy ‘the devil’ wants you to ignore the spiritual reality behind the physical one. Because as long as you are focused on what you can see with your physical eyes, he can continue to run rampant underneath the surface. The more you disregard him, the more damage he is free to do.”
Ephesians 6:12 New International Version (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The effects of the struggle and fight against the darkness show up in our lives everyday – it could be by something you read, or watched on television, it could be what you hear someone say, that ‘story’ that keeps coming up in your life to reinforce some other ‘thing’ that happened. Personally, I imagined that when I started my journey in walking with Jesus, I would magically be armed with some sort of power to keep me from the ‘assaults of the enemy’ – I slowly learned that my walk needed to be daily, sometimes, multiple times a day when I was particularly fraught with darkness- that the ‘ask’ and prayer simply wasn’t enough. My trust and and conscious work of ‘letting go’, and most important –listening to the spiritual reality behind the ‘story’ of what was happening in this realm.
When my father passed away a year ago, this was my RE-defining of who I was. The proverbial rug was pulled under me. I not only lost my first love, the man I compared all men to, but the blinders were then removed to whom he actually was, who my mother and my brother are. As my father passed away that day in November, the dreams of having a family that cared for me, a family that included me, wanted to be apart of my life, my families’ life were shattered.
I fell into the darkness. My darkness is lonely, despite the love of my husband and my kids and friends. My darkness has evil voices and words, that are believable and destructive. The enemy thrived in me, ate my insides and blackened my heart.
2 Corinthians 11:14 New International Version (NIV)
14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
I read this, and I started listening. The voices responding to my cries were quiet at first, soft and slow. As my quiet time increased, the voices became louder, and I heard. And I listened.
Don’t get me wrong, the reality is I only started listening, because I wasn’t ready to leave this earth yet. I didn’t see bright lights and Jesus didn’t come to me in a dream as pretty as that might be. But when noticing the cold darkness slowly coming again, my mantra whispering at first: In God I live and breath and move my being. I am a child of the most, high God. This has become my armor, my shield. And saved my life.
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might”- is so we can “stand against the tactics of the devil” (Eph. 6:10)
Priscilla Shirer writes, “Tactics refers to deceptive strategies. Schemes. Dirty tricks.” That “he wants to lead you into sin so that fellowship is broken between you and God – between you and the One who provides your true power and strength. Then weakened and vulnerable, you’ll be susceptible to his plans to destroy you.”
In the physical world, I believed that I was never good enough; that if I worked harder, if I distracted myself with my busy-ness, I would be good enough, and only then would my parents and world accept me. In the spiritual world, the enemy will continue to tell me that I am not good enough so I don’t stop to listen to Him reminding me the good news:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
In today’s world, we have an even larger fight with the enemy. It is no mystery that the noise is even louder with today’s technology telling us who we should be, what our deficiencies are, how we should think, what we should eat, what we should accept. Principles and values are being questioned every day, thereby creating multitudes of questions and confusions on who we are and what we stand for as individuals. The struggle is real, the temptations are all around us and is a constant challenge learning to turn off the noise, lest we miss something or become uninformed. I pray you all find your quiet, create your own armor, to allow you to listen beyond the noise.