Saturday, January 7, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual battles in the United States don’t seem to get as much press as they should. The concept of demons, evil spirits, angels, get trotted out on occasion when it really important to emphasis the power or intervention of God. “My guardian angel”, “demonic presence”, “heavenly battles for his soul” are all phrases I have heard used. Here’s the thing, and I may be stepping on toes here, I don’t believe too many people in America really get this side of our walk with God.
A friend last night, talking about marriage, said that in our society it is easy for materialism to mask over problems in our lives. But living in a culture like that of Papua New Guinea, where easy distractions and band aid-fixes are less commonplace, hidden issues can bubble to the surface which might otherwise remain unseen. The same is true with the spiritual life – including spiritual warfare. When other distractions are taken away, we notice things that we should have seen all along.
Another conversation I had last night, with another friend was discussing sacrificing. Specifically, choosing to sacrifice everything to be missionaries, this may include our very lives and (and this is the part I still struggle with) the lives of spouse and children.
Yes, you did read that correctly. When you choose a life of fulltime ministry, you stand in the enemy’s crosshairs. Now, I am not saying we are super holy people who miraculously survive 24-7 barrage of demonic attacks. You can drive yourself nuts seeing demons and angels in every bad or good turn of events. But, we have experienced a number of definite attacks since beginning our journey toward Papua New Guinea. Most have come alongside a significant step involved in the process of becoming a missionary or moving the ministry a step closer to Papua New Guinea.
One of the first being Evan’s father falling dangerously ill right after we became members of Wycliffe. It would have been easy – justified even – to set Wycliffe aside, reasoning that there are just too many other things in “real life” to attend. As a number of folks have observed, “It’s like you land on Satan’s radar”. He definitely doesn’t want us to get there.
The worst has been the targeting of our children. Another missionary told us to be very mindful of our children, as they are the target the enemy most enjoys to torment. We have had to endure and fight back when Liam has been plagued by demon forces. Quite tangibly in the case of our PNG masks, which we subsequently burned, and cleansed our home. Most recently, the attacks have come in the form of illness, the spirits of discouragement and oppression, and nightmares. This last, particularly potent for Liam. In fact, what prompted me to write this was Liam crying uncontrollably, and not being able to calm down until we turned on a light and prayed. This incident made me lie in bed crying and unable to sleep for some time. It is something I think about and struggle with almost on a daily basis. Knowing the choices I and Evan are making is affecting our kids.
I can’t claim that is takes some kind of super-human, super-spiritual person to be a missionary. But, I can say with absolute certainty, it takes all the love, support, and prayers of hundreds of people to send one. I don’t know where we’d be without the prayers of those I know are behind us and beside us. But, I do know we are where we are because of them (you all).
I don’t know what this is going to accomplish other than me being able to let a little out of my heart onto the page. Maybe make it a little less difficult (at times) to walk this path. I’m not a martyr, I’m not a saint; I’m not even a particularly good person sometimes. I’m a mom, wife and missionary. All that I ask is that when we cross your mind, you send up a little prayer. Because there are demons and angels in America and they do battle. 

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