Thursday, January 31, 2008

Outflank the Enemy

We've all probably watched enough war movies to know what outflanking looks like on a military battlefield, but how do we "outflank" our spiritual adversary?

Well... it's something I'm learning... fascinating actually. You may do something similar every spring when shopping at the Home & garden store picking out your little packets of seeds. Even if there are no bright colored pictures of the actual carrots on the package you can just imagine like Wallace would say "the ver-it-a-ble, veg-i-ta-ble pa-ra-dise" that lies ahead as you strategically choose all those little packages.

Depending on the type of person you are, you may be distracted by the idea of all the work...(guilty) ...or you may be the effective dreamer who can already taste those hot sweet steamed baby carrots as the butter just drips down your chin. (That would be you, know food is your gifting...)

But regardless of how good and hopeful your imagination is, you do look ahead to the fruit, right? (Or vegetable in this case)? And that's the whole reason you buy the little seeds? You're thinking about dinner and how delicious it will be?

I will confess that with seven kids, I so intensely fear the work that a garden would mean. Although I look longingly at the adorable little packages of seeds in spring...I am hindered by my fear, discouraged and deflated, and I don't usually torture myself by imagining the harvest I'll be missing out on. I have found that the business of life often causes me to fail to contemplate the huge potential of the future enough. Perhaps this is why I am so long in catching on how the enemy tries to squelch the fruit in my own life. I simply, have a bad IMAGINATION and I get outflanked.

I believe since scripture informs us that "Satan will not outwit us for we are not unaware of his schemes", that he indeed schemes. Our imagination regarding these schemes often belies too much Buffy the Vampire slayer and too little familiarity of his way throughout scripture.

I have reaped great fruit as a result of making my imagination run wild about the fruit God would bring in my life and the lives I touch if I wouldn't be so gosh dang cotton pickin sensitive, hormonal, paranoid, self conscious, fearful, immature, introspective, too easily annoyed or provoked, prideful, competitive, guarded, ignorant the fruit up ahead, and of the ways the enemy plays off my nature. Sinful, in a nutshell.

Whenever I am struggling through an issue or with a person, I try to step back and take a good long objective look at just what the heck may be going on. I play it out in my mind. First I look ahead and imagine the fruit God may have planned: the juiciest carrot, the plumpest strawberry that I possibly can. Depending on the situation it may range from basic getting along with people, understanding each other, the absence of strife, harmony and success... to true deep and lasting friendships, growing churches, friends and families that lay down their lives for each others, healed marriages, gentle mothers, joyful children, peace through tragedies and trials, faithfulness to spouses, victory over addictions and strongholds of sin, loving and healthy relationships that are so bursting with fruit that the source cannot be ignored!

Of course there is the outright stated fruits from Galations..., joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control...

...all of which if functioning together, we simply could not imagine the likes of the HARVEST because we are small, human and so temporal minded. But we MUST TRY!

But where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained. ~Prov. 29:18

Then I look at what may happen to screw that all up: Petty arguments, reading each other's minds, being too self aware, being lazy and neglectful, boastful, jealous, ungraciousness and impatience with each others' sins, sharp tongues, hate, depression, anxiety that causes us to complain, gossip, slander, bitterness, faithlessness, broken promises, not carrying each others' burdens, rash reactions, envy, covetousness, ignorance, apathy, lack of self control, sacrastic and pride, pride, pride prrrriiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEd. I could go on.

And then I look real honestly at what is going on with me, back up a bit, remember that everything good is from God, especially the people involved and at some point my own sin, and the scheming enemy has entered in and befuddled* me. I have realized that outflanking him only requires that I cast off and repent of my sin, search eagerly for what God's victory might be--(the fruit), anticipate Satan's tactics, remembering always that HE and my own depraved self is my enemy...(not the people I am struggling to be understood by.....never them.)

I have found that the single best flanking maneuver is to zero in on that thing that is irking me and causing me to ruminate or complain. Whether it is a family member, friend, situation at church or work, I consider that this opposition and irkment* may be there for a reason! Our adversary has been around since the garden of Eden people! He and his legions know how these things go down! His specialty is using all that petty, everyday sinful stuff that builds and builds to the breaking point and all the christians are standing around wondering what happened when our relationships grow distant and tolerant, marriages splinter, churches split, children run the opposite direction.... and we wonder why the world stands aloof and even turned seriously off?

But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. ~Galations 5:15

In fact, not only is our Enemy probably familiar and skilled in the sinful nature of humanity in general, but I would go so far as to say that on a personal level, He has some degree of knowledge of us and will likely go straight for our kneecaps, our achilles heels...our habitual little piles of vomit that we constantly return to, given that we are already exchanging our truth for a lie.

It makes sense to tighten the ranks by running towards, then alongside the people I am called to love. The closer I get, the more clearly I see them as NOT the enemy. In fact, most likely needing me just as much to run alongside them together against the real enemy and for the real prize.

Are you struggling with someone or something? Are you forgetting to look through spiritual eyes up ahead to the fruit that God means to produce through it? God will get His fruit--His glory! Will it be you that He uses? If there are seemingly huge obstacles between you and this person/situation it may be possible the enemy has a better imagination than you and is seeking to steal and destroy the greatest potential for fruit there is! Have you considered that? What must God be planning for there to come such a battle! Instead of running away or continuing in the futile battering...outflank your enemy by what he least expects and most fears.

We are out witted in the sheer fact that we have not looked at what God is doing. An army that is divided is SO EASILY OUTFLANKED!

As you set your mind on the fruit, remember that only Satan is our true enemy and that God has called us to only love each other and seek after the lost, you can let your imagination run wild as you imagine the magnitude of the ways He might use you. It feels a bit suicidal at times to open ourselves up and run towards our very fears and irks, the very real wounds of our perceived enemies.... our cross. But it is our calling.

Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. ~Gal 5:24,25

Tighten those ranks and let's outflank our real enemy together!

*Befuddled is my favorite word right now.

*Irkment- I made that work up I think.

1 comment:

Anne Marie said...

I have recently noticed the need for outflanking the enemy in my own is just ONE example:it seems that satan was desperately trying to steal my Sabbath morning joy by creating strife and crabbiness inside my head. I was consistently getting a TERRIBLE night of sleep on Saturdays, waking crabby and feeling resentful of having to leave my nice warm bed, consequently making us all late for church and causing arguments between Michael and myself about punctuality. I really allowed Satan to get a foothold on my attitude and worship - for a time. Then God graciously opened my eyes to what was happening and how I was ALLOWING Satan to steal my joy and ruin my Sabbath mornings (as well as my family's). I agree it was because of a lack of imagination - a lack of vision for what God CAN and WILL do in my life. If we all saw (imagined or envisioned) the "fruit" more clearly, we would strive to attain it with more determination. We would run the race with an expectation of winning, because the prize was great enough to drive us on, despite fatigue or discouragement from the enemy. Praise God for this revelation and may He continually renew our motivation to be aware of satan's schemes so that we may successfully outflank him!!