Surviving the Enemy within Our Very Borders

We live in divisive times.

Politically, our country is torn. Spiritually, our people are splintered. Even God’s people form sides, create factions.

Beheadings in Nigeria. Rumors of war with Iran. Threats launched from North Korea. Violence penetrating the walls of our churches and synagogues. Barraged on every side, our greatest enemy lays siege from within and we must guard our hearts above all.

Let me explain.

The murkiest section of scripture has always been for me the time of the divided kingdom in Israel. Full of wayward fathers, sacrificed sons, wooly prophets calling down fire from heaven, liars, idols, foreign gods, brother against brother, wicked queens, and strange alliances, it requires patience and commentary by reliable teachers to understand.

And yet, right now, it is like a roadmap of our times.

And what I have come to understand as I read the struggles of the people of God in that day is that their greatest struggle was within. Those who managed to remain faithful to the ever-faithful God guarded their hearts against pride, counseled with God for every decision, spent time apart from the temptation of power and wealth, and humbly spoke truth even when it cost them.

The great prophets can guide us in our navigation of these divided times because they are a pattern for flying straight even through dense fog.

In an episode of The West Wing titled The Red Mass, the president meets with a rival senator who isn’t happy with the president’s performance thus far. He tells him a story about new pilots, “I was telling Josh Lyman about a friend who just got his pilot’s license. He told me the most remarkable thing. He said a new pilot will fly into cloud cover. There’ll be no visibility. And they’ll check their gauges, they’ll look at the artificial horizon, it’ll show them level, but they won’t trust it. So, they’ll make an adjustment and then another and another… He said the number of new pilots who fly out of clouds completely upside-down would knock you out.”

The prophets of God know to trust their gauges more than their own perceived wisdom, especially in divisive times. In times of great deception, the horizon can shift like a great heaving sea or like banks of fog. The truth can appear to be a shifting line and yet, if we trust what we see and hear above God’s Word and sound teaching, our myriad adjustments will have us turned upside down before we know it.

  • And so, we must dig into God’s Word as never before. There has never been a generation with less excuse for knowing what God says. We have been assigned to times swimming in translations of the Bible and ways to access it – from our computers to our phones, from audio books to large print, in almost every language imaginable. We must read it, absorb it, study it on whatever level we can manage, listen to sound teaching about it, and then do what it says.
  • We must be ruthless about addressing our inner pride, which is Satan’s trojan horse to our spiritual health. The only mirror on which we should rely is God’s Word. There is no better way to foster humility than to immerse in it, try to live it, and speak it clearly to others. We’ll foul it up a hundred different ways but that is the training ground on which pride withers and spiritual warriors are refined.
  • Prayer must become to us like breathing. It is a key instrument on our panel and after we speak, we must quiet ourselves and listen. This will steady the panic when everything in our flesh screams that we must adjust ourselves to the unsteady rise and fall of the culture and the deceptive false prophets of our days. We must listen for the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit and rely on His understanding, not our own, to avoid flipping our spiritual lives, our churches, our communities, our entire generation into an upside-down orientation.
  • And, we must see ourselves as one with our generation and yet, set apart. We must live in context and yet know that our story extends into eternity and isn’t confined to this one moment. Our eyes must be fixed on a greater horizon for us to be fortified against the temptations of transient wealth and power – of passing popularity and prosperity – of the intoxicating approval of cultural kings and queens who worship at strange altars.

We live in divided times and yet, we are not without hope or guidance. We can fly straight despite the deception that appears in the glass.

And this has been the lot of all who live by faith through every generation, so we are not alone. Our God is with us, just as He has been and will be forevermore.

I will leave you today with the words written in Hebrews 10:35-39: “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (ESV)

Amen?

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9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. SANDRA LOVELACE says:

    Yes. Yes. and Yes. again. Thank you for this call to our hearts, minds, and knees.
    May God bless you throughout 2020, Friend.

  2. Harris says:

    Amen and amen. Thank you for wise words, biblical perspectives and straightforward writing for times such as these.

  3. Doris says:

    Thank you ~ Amen!!

  4. Tammy Breeding says:

    Amen! A voice in the wilderness to reorient us when we start second guessing our instrument panel. Brava!

  5. Gerhard Papenfus (South Africa) says:

    Wonderful, wonderful message. Praise God! Amen!

  6. Kelly says:

    Love this! It truly resounded in my spirit! I found the truth in it to not only challenge me but to encourage and strengthen my resolve. Thanks Lori for your timely messages to fellow christ followers.

  7. Carla says:

    Love your timing and truth. This is not the time to hide, but to stand on God’s promises and to obey. Thank you! Happy New Year.

  8. Nancy K. Sullivan says:

    Your heart for God and diligence in keeping it gives you wonderful insight, Lori. Thank you for this perspective on these troubled times. God bless.

  9. Maxine (from New Zealand) says:

    Thank you for helping me re-calibrate my instruments to fly right-side up! A timely word, Lori
    Blessings
    Maxine