A lot of people make the mistake of believing that a life born anew in faith is one that will be lived without any major trials or pain. While an individual who has experienced a renewal in spirit during their personal growth transformation may experience more positive days in their future than they’ve had in their past, they will not live a life without stress and hardship. In fact, in all likelihood more than ever before they will be positioned as a target of evil. Because the devil hates to lose dominion over those that he has had the ability to deceive and manipulate in the past. And he won’t relinquish his control without a fight. Anyone searching to change the course of their lives and follow their faith should keep in mind that they will have to battle to protect their beliefs. A choice to follow the Cross comes with tremendous responsibility. If you’re going to live by the Spirit you will need to be committed, no matter how hard you are tempted by the evil one.
I’ve found in my own personal journey that it’s often when things have been going extremely well in my life that I am challenged to remain committed to what’s been instrumental in keeping me healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually. The devil seems to have a way of picking his spots. He tends to make an effort to prod me when I’ve momentarily let my guard down. That’s why it’s so critical that I remain in tune with the habits that have led me to my positive outcomes. If I take for granted the position that I find myself in as a result of my hard work, I will leave myself open and susceptible to a strike. And sometimes it’s completely unintentional. It could simply be that I’ve gone a few nights without sufficient rest or that I’ve allowed a recent occurrence in my life to sway my mindset in the direction of negativity. No matter what the trigger, I find that I am tested in moments when I am less than one-hundred percent. The devil preys on weakness, and he delights in opportunities to seize control when we are not at the top of our games.
Yesterday was a wonderful day for me, but it was an exhausting one at that. I woke up early and wrote my blog and got in a run, and spent the rest of the day with my best friend, his fiancé, and my girlfriend enjoying the first football weekend in Chapel Hill. We had a great time together, but admittedly, I could not seem to shake the feeling of exhaustion that I was carrying physically. I just did my best to ignore what my body was telling me and continued to make the most of the day. By the time that we got home from our game and settled in to watch the end of a few of the late evening contests on ABC and ESPN, I was absolutely dragging. I was struggling mightily to keep my eyes open.
When I finally called it a night and retired to bed, I passed out almost immediately. I tried my best to get through my prayers but I don’t recall making it very far with them. I was beat. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to rest easy for long. Because forty-five minutes or so into my sleep I awoke in a horrible panic attack. It was the type of anxiety that I used to encounter in my sleep with regularity when I was heavily afflicted by my disorder. I was sweating and shaking tremendously, and for a brief time, I felt as though I was dying. It was terrifying. And even though I was able to regain control of myself fairly quickly, I didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night. I was too shaken by the experience to truly be at ease.
With last night’s experience, I could have headed in one of two directions this morning. I could have chosen to reflect on my setback and fear what obstacles might now await me in the day ahead, allowing my mind to feel defeated and vulnerable. Or I could have decided to view the incident for what it was, simply a hot iron poke from the devil seeking to steer me off course, and continued on with my day in confidence knowing that with perseverance I would prevail over his futile attempt. I chose option two. And that was an easy decision for me. In the past, I would have struggled to make that choice. I would have likely allowed my mind to be manipulated by fear and in doing so I would have only opened myself up to greater harm…harm that might potentially impact my ability to carry out God’s plan for my life. But not today. Today I was aware – today I was strong.
Do not let the devil fool you. Be aware of his schemes. When you are weak, you will be tempted. Do your best to evade the circumstances that might lead you into harm’s way. But understand that you cannot avoid every poke and prod. Sometimes you will just need to take it with a smile and keep moving forward in faith. In doing so you will disarm him, and his ability to influence your life will diminish over time. If you choose to follow the Lord, you will need to accept that you will become a marked target of the evil one. But fear not, as the devil cannot do anything with those who refuse to be influenced by him. When you live your life with Christ, your road will not always be smooth, but I assure you, it will be the most fulfilling journey that you could ever imagine. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by evil. Stand firm, keep the faith, and know that just like a panic attack, it will pass quickly if you simply remain aware of what’s happening and keep moving forward with confidence.
May God Bless!