Husbands used by the Defeated Enemy

Bride

Jesus’ bride will be a spotless and victorious bride!

I want to start by saying that I don’t hate men.  Men are not the problem.  The problem is society.  The problem is Christian culture.  The problem, ultimately, is the fallen state of this world.  So the fact that the defeated enemy uses husbands to stop their wives from fulfilling their destiny is not the only way he works against the marital relationship.  I’m sure that he also uses wives to stop husbands from fulfilling their destiny, too.  I just don’t know this scenario from the man’s point of view.  That is a post for a man to write.  But I have both seen and personally experienced wives being literally robbed of their ministry and destiny by husbands who refuse to allow them to obey what God has told them to do—even Christian husbands—and it doesn’t always end well for the marriage.  And I wish I had the solution, but I don’t.

The Blacks

Ann has a powerful prophetic gift and a calling for evangelism.  Her husband, Bob, is a hard-working Christian man.  He can’t always make it to church because of his busy work schedule, but he is not anti-church or anti-God in any way.  Honestly, he’s just tired.  Ann works, too.  But Ann manages to make it to church on Sunday and Wednesday night.  Bob doesn’t spend time reading the Bible or in prayer like he knows he should.  He’s too busy.  Those times when his work schedule would allow him to go to church, he often chooses to stay home and watch sports on TV.

Recently Ann was invited to speak at a church four hours away from home.  In the past, Bob has expressed his desire for Ann not to go.  This time he forbid her to go.  She went anyway, making the long round-trip in a single day.  The church that had invited her had offered her a place to stay, but Ann felt like it was more important to get back home to Bob as quickly as possible.  Of course, Bob was asleep when she got back home long after midnight.  Things have been very tense between them ever since, but Ann knew that she had to obey God and go.  Ann feels torn because she loves Bob.  What can she do, but obey God and pray that He will make things better between them?

The Whites

Zoe also has a powerful prophetic gift, and she has a calling for intercession.  Her husband, Walter, is also a Christian, both of them have been out of work for several years now.  At first Walter was very diligent about looking for a job, but the economy where they live is so depressed that there is literally nothing at all for either of them.  And the situation is even worse because Walter and Zoe are foreigners, so it is doubly hard to find work, even when it does become available.  Zoe knows that they were called to their host country.  Zoe lives by faith, looking to God as their Source.  She never knows where the money for rent or groceries will come from, but God is faithful.

Being out of work for such a long time has sunk Walter into such a deep depression that he has retreated into the internet.  He spends entire days watching End Times prophecy and Christian conspiracy videos on YouTube and playing video war games.  These things have taken Walter to a very dark place, indeed.  Now he interacts with the real world with deep suspicion and mistrust.  Walter leads daily family prayer time, but only because Zoe insists.

Recently Zoe felt called to go on a prayer trip that would take her away from home for a week.  Walter was enraged.  He accused Zoe of everything from running away to having an affair.  In his rage, Walter smashed Zoe’s family heirloom vase.  The sound of Walter’s shouts and the broken ceramics brought their children rushing into the room, in fear for their mother’s safety.  Zoe went on the prayer trip, but of course she returned to a sullen and suspicious husband.

The Greens

Mary also has a powerful prophetic gift and a calling to encourage the saints.  Her husband, Luke, was a Christian when they married.  After their Sunday school teacher cheated him out of $300, Luke left the church, saying that he would rather hang out with sinners because at least they were honest.  Luke tolerated Mary’s Christianity but certainly did not encourage it.  Not long after all this, Mary began finding pornographic websites on the computer.  When she confronted Luke about it, he apologized, saying that he was just curious.  But rather than stopping, Luke just got better about hiding it, erasing the browser history when he finished using the computer.  But pornography kept turning up in their shared email.  Finally Luke accused Mary of being cold, saying that he needed to find release somewhere, and at least he wasn’t going to prostitutes.

Mary’s church was preparing for a short-term missions trip, and seeing her interest, someone anonymously offered to pay Mary’s way.  Mary was thrilled, but at the same time she worried, knowing that if she left Luke alone at home, he would spend his time looking at porn.  She felt such deep shame about the issue that Mary didn’t ask for prayer, as she would for anything else going on in her life.  When she returned from the mission trip, Luke told her that she should go stay with her mom for a while.  So without unpacking, Mary left their house and went to stay with her mom.  They have remained separated now for several months.

Analysis

These are certainly not the only circumstances that the defeated enemy can use against women to derail their calling.  I am sure that there are probably many other stories in which the wives have chosen to obey their husband instead of God, in the hopes of keeping the peace.  As I observed in my last post: The Defeated Enemy Fights Dirty.  He uses the people closest to us, people we trust, to poke our wounds or to stop our ministries.  In each of these cases, the husband had abdicated his position as the spiritual head of the household.

Unfortunately, this is a problem of epidemic proportions that has necessitated women becoming strong.  And lest you think that this is just a result of feminism, there is actually a Biblical example of a godly woman who obeyed God despite her husband’s wishes: Abigail (1 Samuel 25).  Her husband, Nabal, was a Jew.  But he certainly wasn’t listening to God about David, as Abigail was.  The story of Abigail and Nabal comes to a swift conclusion, with a happy ending for Abigail, but who know how many years leading up to this that Abigail had had to go against Nabal.  Perhaps at every Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles for years Abigail may have gone alone to Jerusalem as Moses commanded, while Nabal stayed home sulking and working his fields.

This abdication is probably a factor in many Christian divorces.  It certainly is in mine.  Some people tell divorced women (and men) that they are not suited for ministry because of divorce (citing 1 Timothy 3:2).  If that’s the case, then explain the Samaritan woman—one of the very first evangelists—who was divorced five times and living with a man (John 4).  God is not rigid and legalistic, as many of His people tend to be.  As I’ve observed many times: it takes two to make a marriage work, but only one to wreck it[1].  And although God hates divorce, He loves divorced people and Jesus died for them.  Divorce doesn’t have to mean the end of ministry.  In the case of 1 Timothy, Paul was talking about overseers (or bishops), men who lead more than one church.  Their lives need to be beyond reproach.  This rule doesn’t apply to every person called to ministry (and guess what: we’re all called to ministry in one way or another).  Furthermore, in first century society, women didn’t have the right to divorce, only men could divorce.  So a divorced overseer would have been a man who had sent his wife away for whatever reason.  He didn’t have to have a “godly” reason (like infidelity), he only had to desire to send her away.

So don’t put God in a box, and don’t limit His women, either.  Jesus certainly didn’t!  God is good!

[1] And that one is never a third party, no matter what some people think.  The other woman is called a home-wrecker, but she could never wreck a marriage without the full and willing cooperation of the husband.  He is the one who broke his vows, not the other woman.

The Defeated Enemy Fights Dirty!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a picture from my early days as a traveling missionary.  Except for the hair, I don’t think I’ve changed much.

I refuse to use the defeated enemy’s God-given name, which translates as “light-bearer,” because he has forever forfeited the right to be called by that name.  Besides that, the Bible says:

Pay close attention to all my instructions.  You must not call on the name of any other gods.  Do not even speak their names, (Exodus 23:13, emphasis mine).

I also refuse to use his generic title, which means “accuser.”  Devil makes him sound frightening (though I am not afraid of him), and enemy makes it sound like this is a fair fight—it’s not!  The odds are so completely stacked in our favor that there is literally no way that we can possibly lose.

That’s why I only refer to him as the defeated enemy.  I want to remind myself of my position of victory.  I also want to remind him of his defeat, which is sealed.  The Holy Spirit reminded me one day a few years ago that Jesus is the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world[1].”  And He revealed to me that since Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, the enemy’s defeat was also sealed from the foundation of the world.

Therefore, we cannot possibly lose.  That is unless he can get us to give up.  This is why he works so hard on discouraging us.  He chooses someone who is close to us, someone we love and trust, to poke us in the place where it hurts the most.

Make no mistake about it: although his defeat is a fact, nevertheless he is still capable of wounding.  He can wound us gravely, even unto death.  He is behind Christian divorces.  He has even provoked Christians to suicide.  I can guarantee that the defeated enemy was behind the scenes, using that person’s loved ones to poke a wound that hurt so badly they simply couldn’t take it any longer.

This is exactly what he did to me today.

Here’s my story, so that you understand this place of vulnerability (and trust me, it’s not an easy story to tell):

From the time I was very little, I wanted to be a boy because I thought boys had more fun.  I didn’t like playing with dolls or even sitting indoors coloring.  I spent my childhood in trees or on my bike, having adventures[2].  I believed that being a girl meant that I was boring, and that means that I have always had a lot of body shame.

As a teenager body shame expressed itself as it does with many teenaged girls: obsessive dieting and crash dieting interspersed with periods of binge eating.  I look back at pictures and realize with a shock that I wasn’t fat at all.  But the defeated enemy used my friends to tell me that I was fat.  Often he would whisper in my ear that I was fat.  And sometimes a boy would compliment me, saying something like: “I like girls with curves,” which sounded to me like he was saying: “You’ve got a big butt.”  All of which put me on a hunger strike until my mother would nag me into eating, and bribe me with fried chicken.

In high school I was in a semi-professional ballet troupe.  My ballet teacher was extremely thin.  She had been a ballerina with the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine.  She encouraged us all to lose weight if we dared to think of a career as a dancer.  In fact, “encouraged” is far too nice a word for it.  She badgered us constantly about our weight.  She bullied us by putting the “fat” ones (including me) in the back line—both on stage and during practice.  Looking back, there was nobody in the class that I would say was fat.  But she convinced us all that we were.

So all this adds up to intense body shame—lifelong body shame.  On the positive side, body shame did keep my dress modest compared to other girls my age.  But of course I dressed modestly for the wrong reason.

What happened today is this: last night I was invited to Monica’s apartment for dinner.  Monica is Italian, about the age of my mother, and a new believer.  In other words, Monica doesn’t have the same cultural experiences I have as an American.  And Europeans really don’t have the culture of body shame or fat-shaming.  So after a lovely dinner, and after offering me two desserts, Monica says: “My dear, you have put on weight.”  Her tone was one of concern for me, but what I heard was: “Wow!  You’ve really gotten fat!”  I didn’t know how to respond because I don’t think my weight has changed at all in the past year.

That one line was enough to send me into a spiral in which I only wanted to go to bed and sleep the comment away.  Then today Monica called me and repeated what she had said two more times.  After getting off the phone I spiraled into despair, self-hatred, and even had thoughts of suicide.  Happily, Nina was here and prayed me through the pain.  Monica is plump, while Nina is actually underweight.  But it is Nina who understood how those words had hurt me.

Understand, I am not angry or upset at Monica.  She was just the stick that the defeated enemy had used to poke my wounded place.  The whole thing caught me off-guard because I had thought that I had dealt with this issue.  Rejection, abandonment, and self-hatred are things that I spent a great deal of time working through with the Lord.  But obviously, body shame remains a core issue that I need to deal with.  I don’t even know how to begin to heal from body shame.  It is a wound so deep and so old that it almost feels like it’s a part of my identity.

What I’ve decided to do is to go back to what God says about my body:

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well, (Psalm 139:14, NIV).

Who am I to argue with the Potter?  I’m going to let Him love me through this until all the hurt and body shame are gone.  God is good!

[1] Revelation 13:8, KJV.

[2] Thank God I’m a Boomer!  Can you imagine if I had been born these days?  I might have had parents who “supported” my right to be a boy, using masculine pronouns, and insisting that I be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at school.  I’ve even heard of parents who have let their young teens get hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery.  Although it’s what I wanted at ages four through eleven, as an adult I’ve always been glad that I’m female—especially having given birth to my two sons.  I still think dolls are boring, though.

My Heart’s Cry

beach

I don’t want the safety of the harbor.  I want to swim out to the deepest depths!

I was at a prayer meeting on Monday night.  We had a specific focus for our prayers, so I was somewhat surprised when the facilitator turned to me and said, “And you, Alisa?  How can we pray for you?”

Although I was caught off-guard, nevertheless, I blurted out my prayer request—no, not a request!—my heart’s cry: “I want more of God!”

All eyes regarded me curiously, so I explained:

I feel like I’m on the beach, and I’ve waded in up to my ankles.  But I want to go farther and deeper.  I want to be completely immersed.  I remember reading about someone who swam so far out into the ocean that they lost sight of the shore.  I want to do that!  I want to lose myself in God!

Changing metaphors, I further explained:

In 2011 I received a prophecy in which God told me that He had set a table before me, and that on the table is everything I could ever want or need.  A few months later I was weeping before the Lord as I faced the very scary task of speaking to churches about Europe as a mission field.  I knew that I needed to do it because the burden was immense, but so was my lifelong fear of speaking in public.  So I was on my knees, weeping and begging God to be there with me as I speak to the churches.

When I calmed down, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the table in the prophecy.  I cried: “I don’t want a gift, I want You, God!”  And I wept all the more.

When I calmed down again, God gently spoke, saying: “My child, I am in every gift, and every gift is simply more of Me.”

That’s what I want: I want every gift!  I want more of God, every bit of Him that He will give me.  I want to lose myself in Him!  And I don’t want this Holy Dissatisfaction to ever end.  I want to stay Hungry for God, and for more of Him!

One of my friends tried to “talk me down off the ledge” by assuring me that it’s okay to live a normal life like everyone else, and that we all want to live in the supernatural.  But I didn’t want to be reassured.  I don’t want to live a “normal” life like everyone else around me—like people who don’t know Jesus.  We were called to be different and to live differently.  Finally the facilitator said that she understood, and she assigned herself as the one to pray for me.

Another one of my friends asked for prayer so that there would be no more misunderstandings about her calling—that she would understand her calling better, but also that her church would understand her calling.  I volunteered to pray for her, and what I prayed was that she would become more secure in her calling so that she didn’t need the stamp of approval from anyone else.

Honestly!  Sometimes other Christians are like crabs in a pot[1], pulling you back down so that you can never escape the “normal” into the supernatural realm of God Almighty.  I think the issue with her church is that they don’t want her to do anything that doesn’t fly under their banner.  She longs to do what God has called her to do, but this opposition (which she has called “misunderstanding”) has made her doubt her calling.  So I also prayed for her to have the holy boldness to obey God no matter what her church thinks about it.

So my heart cries out for more of God, and that this precious friend can experience more of Him as she obeys despite opposition—even the opposition of her pastor.  There is more, if you dare to reach for it.  God is good!

[1] A lone crab can easily climb up out of a pot and escape.  But a pot full—even overflowing—with crabs will not lose a single one.  Why?  Because the others will grab ahold and pull a potential escapee back into the pot.