I lay on the couch, snuggled under a quilt, listening to the wind and playing a game on my Kindle to pass the time before I had to get ready for the party. The party I didn’t really want to go to, but knew I should. (It’s always the same story with me – I want to be invited, but I never want to go. Ah, the life of the socially anxious introvert…)
Just laying there, moving jewels around on the screen, crushing rocks, vaguely thinking about the party, listening to the wind. The very picture of peace and contentment…
Then, “It would just be easier if you were dead”.
Ah, my old friend. You’ve returned after a bit of a hiatus. Haven’t heard from you in a while. Can’t say I’ve missed you…
(Now before you go calling the authorities on me, allow me a moment to explain. Yes, I am clinically depressed, and yes, I do have suicidal thoughts with frightening regularity. But no, I am not suicidal per se. Thoughts only, not actions. I promise. Oh, and my counselor says I’ll be fine.)
I’ve heard that voice and that sentence more times than I can count. I still remember the first time I heard it. I was six. It floats in when I least expect it, when my defenses are down, drops the bomb, and floats out again. And since my defenses were definitely down in that moment, I’m not surprised it showed up.
But this time, it’s different. I’m different. This time, while I can’t say I was ready and waiting for the attack, I was at least prepared to respond.
“God,” I asked, “why does the Enemy want to destroy me?” It wasn’t an angry question, or even a fearful one. It was just a matter-of-fact, almost conversational question. I had no doubts about where the voice was coming from. In fact, God and I had been talking about it just a few hours earlier. And that right there was what made me different…
After finally succumbing to some nudging on the Holy Spirit’s part, January has been all about spiritual disciplines for me. Regular times of prayer, purposeful Bible reading, and saturating my heart and mind with good teaching have been my habits. Frequent conversations with God about whatever happens to be on my mind have also become habit again.
And these new habits allowed me to bring this latest development up with my Father right away. My Father who is for me. My Father who loves me. My Father who is listening for me to call His name. My Father who had been forming my habits and preparing my heart for this moment. My Father who I had just told I didn’t want to go to the party.
The answer came quickly and quietly, and it wasn’t particularly earth-shattering: “Think about what you’re doing. You’re helping kids get to know Jesus. Of course the Enemy wants to destroy you.”
It’s a reality I’ve come to understand with greater clarity over the last year: ministry is dangerous work. Sure, I get to go to work with some of my favorite people everyday, wear jeans and comfy sweatshirts and have meetings on couches. But I know that underneath all of that ease are landmines and a sniper’s rifle aimed right at my heart every moment of the day. (Dramatic much? Eh, maybe a little, but there’s a reason we’re told to put on the full armor of God, ya know?)
And anyone who decides, regardless of job title or position, to work for God, lives the same dangerous life day in and day out. Anyone, in any career, who has come to understand that the work she does, she does for God and God alone, ends up on the same spiritual frontline. Right there, in the Enemy’s crosshairs. An easy target.
But there is a beautiful, thrilling truth that renders the Enemy’s weapons useless and makes this work we do awesome: In Christ, the victory has already been won. Shots fired in our direction may wound from time to time, there’s no doubt about that, but they cannot ever destroy. We belong to the victorious Lamb and He has called us to work for Him!
So I agreed with God that yes, what I’m doing probably does make me an attractive target, and I settled back in with my game. But He wasn’t finished with the conversation just yet. I felt another little Holy Spirit nudge, this one about how I’ve been spending my time. I sighed and closed the game. Mindless entertainment was risky for me right then, and although it was enjoyable, I knew I needed to go do something productive. Eat dinner, write, clean my room (nah, not that ;) ), something other than allowing my mind to wander off its spiritual leash.
And thus I’ve stumbled onto February’s assignment: Practice being intentional with my time.
Oh Father, you do make me smile…
What has God been nudging you about lately?