Ephesians 6 reminds us that there are spiritual forces at work that we cannot see. They are real. They are powerful. They are malignant. They are dark. And they exist, albeit in an invisible state, alongside the humans on planet Earth. These are the forces with which we are at war. They are our true foes. Not the humans we often lash out against. Not our neighbors, or our parents, or our children, or our friends.
This is a difficult concept to grasp. Most of us want to see the enemies we fight. Many can’t believe in something they can’t see. Here is one of Satan’s deadliest weapons and one of the ways in which he twists the truth to his advantage. He preys upon our doubts. He tells us the small voice that warns of danger isn’t real, while his voice, the one that tells us to go ahead and experience that hidden pleasure or do that forbidden thing, is the real truth. After all, what others don’t know won’t hurt them, and if you aren’t caught, it isn’t a real crime, right?
Sometimes we need a reminder that we can touch and see to help us with the spiritual fight. In my novel Strength to Stand, Lee, the main character needs this. She has grown distrustful of the God she grew up with and needs physical help remembering that God actually cares for her and is present in her life. Here is an excerpt from the story that illustrates what I mean. Lucille is Lee’s mentor, a horse trainer who has taken Lee, a jockey, under her wing. Rob is Lucille’s husband.
The gentle urgency in Lucille’s voice led Lee to focus on her words. “I want you to know we’ve been prayin’ for you. I know you aren’t ready to talk about whatever happened last night, but you need to know that something woke Rob and me up and told us to lift you up. I know you had some kind of struggle with Satan. I don’t know what it was, but God called in reinforcements for you.”
Lucille reached out and smoothed Lee’s hair. “I’m also pretty sure it ain’t over, but God loves you, and he doesn’t want you to fall. He’ll hold you up, if you’ll only let him. Rob and I love you too, honey. Anytime you’re ready to talk, we’ll be ready to listen. No matter what it is, or how bad you think it is, we’ll listen. And God will too. I understand it’s hard for you to trust, but the best part is none of us is going to quit loving you no matter what you do or what you’ve done. That’s out of your control. You have to remember it’s not about you. It’s about Jesus, and he already paid for your sins—all of ‘em.”
They arrived at Jamieson’s barn, and Lucille put the truck in park. Lee scrambled to free herself from the belt and open the door, because the lump in her throat was back and tears weren’t far behind.
“Thanks,” she mumbled as she stumbled out of the truck. “I’ll try to trust.” She flung herself around the corner out of Lucille’s sight, but her legs refused to carry her another step. Sliding down the wall of the barn, she sat there, sobbing into her hands. After a while, something warm pressed against her side. The calico cat she’d seen wandering the shedrow earlier nuzzled into her jacket. The horse in the stall above her stuck its head over the stall door and blew warm breath into her hair. After a while the tears dried and her body relaxed.
“Is this your way of comforting me, God? If so, then thank you.” Had she just prayed? The gentle breeze from earlier returned to her mind, blowing away the fear and doubt. Her mind quieted, and her heart slowed. She breathed in the calm surrounding her, pulling it deep into herself while she could.
Later, Lee pulls her Bible out from under her bed and begins to read. Slowly, the words seep into her soul and change her mind about God’s character. She uses the Word, her horses and the cat, to give her the courage to beat her addiction.
What tangible reminders do you have of God’s loving presence in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Please pray for me as I pitch Strength to Stand to agents and editors. Pray that I will choose the right words to accurately represent the story and that they will resonate with the agent God has in mind for this story and for me. Thank you for your support as I seek publication.