Note: This blog entry is being written in Summer 2021. It was started, re-written, and modified a couple of times as the impact of the 2020 pandemic wore on. Though my faith was tested by my personal life experiences, I am glad to say ‘God kept me’ as I journeyed through. The question in the title of this blog has new meaning on the other side of Covid-19 2020 confirming that, although things may have changed, God, and His promises, stayed the same.
A Shift Has Occurred
We all can admit, this past year has been a tough one. It seemed as if everything we knew took a shift. A shift that impacted how we looked at any plans going forward. This included our livelihoods, finances, religious practices, and even our health. What was going on? Would things get back to normal? The year 2020 seemed to create more questions than answers about the trajectory of the future and as the year wore on, many, even those of faith, felt anxious. It highlighted the question we all face when challenges come our way – when the foundations of our lives shift – what foundation do you stand on? Do you fight the battle in fear or authority? Let’s take a closer look.
Spiritual Warfare or the Authority of the Holy Spirit
For Christians everywhere, the topic of spiritual warfare is one that is mentioned in many Sunday sermons, Sunday School, Bible studies, and Discipleship training. The Bible tells us that it is real and something we should expect as Jesus leads us as our Savior. It is like the anxiety you feel when hearing of a scary movie that you haven’t seen yet but already have a funny feeling in your stomach as you sit down to watch it.
We believe warfare exists, but how to fight this fight is still a little murky. Why? Because the force behind it is invisible. Yes, it may manifest physically but that unknown is real and unpredictable. That is what 2020 felt like for me. I consider myself on the ‘seasoned side’ of faith, but the enormity of the pandemic left me with that butterfly feeling deep within. For much of the year, I felt like I was in an ongoing defense posture trying to keep the other team out of the end zone.
The reality of what I was feeling though came to light in the Fall of the year as my daughter was faced with the continuation of virtual school and the inability to play sports. The heaviness of the year, the closeness the family had to experience as the walls seemingly were closing in, and the inability to plan outdoor activities and visits with family took their toll. That was when God spoke to me about choices.
Choices – Warfare or Authority
During this season I also had trouble sleeping at night, so I decided to make the most of the time by seeking God’s voice in the middle of everything I was feeling. I would ask God ‘how should I respond?’ and ‘How can I support my family as they faced their own uncertainties?’ They looked to me (because I am a Minister) but I could only look to the Lord because I was in my feelings too. God would send me to His Word and remind me that yes, spiritual warfare is real and invisible (even if physically expressed) as the familiar verse,
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) says:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
But God also reminded me that the authority within me as His child was real too.
Matthew 10:1 (ESV) says:
“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”
In this verse, Jesus reminds the disciples of what they can do in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. It is also a reminder to us of the power and authority we have as believers in Christ. Authority is real, and it can take over and shift us from a posture of defense to offense mode. This is the choice we are faced with every day – we can fight on our power when challenges come our way or, let the Power of the Holy Spirit fight on our behalf.
God Wants to Fight for You
The reality of spiritual warfare can seem scary to us but that is not the intent as we see in Matthew 10:1 when Jesus gave the disciples the same authority He relied upon in the Holy Spirit. An authority to stand – and not be afraid of the unseen spiritual bumps in the night.
1 Corinthians 2:12 reminds us –
12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
And ultimately, as we journey through the growth of our faith, the Bible reminds us that God is always ahead of us, no matter what we are feeling.
Exodus 14:14 (NIV) says –
14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
We can only ‘be still’ if we know a greater Power is handling ‘our business’. This is comforting and prompts me to trust God deeper, get out of my head, and move as He directs me.
This is the point where Authority eclipses Warfare.