Vicious Attack in the Produce Aisle

appetite-1239173_640Have you ever been attacked simply because of your associations?
Has anyone ever disliked you simply because you belonged to a group they hate?
It’s disconcerting, isn’t it?
Between my sophomore and junior years of college, I spent a summer in Japan. I was assigned, by our missions team, to live in a church in a small city in the south of Japan. After several weeks, I had hit a familiar rhythm and knew my way around.
One morning in mid-August, I walked to the market as I’d done every day. I was scanning the produce when a wiry, white-haired gentleman took notice of me and began to scream in Japanese, pointing his finger, and scrunching his face into a look that was full of anger and hate.
I glanced around to see if perhaps he was yelling at someone else but the crowd forming a circle with me in the center confirmed my fear that I was the target of this man’s tirade.
I froze in place. The little Japanese I knew failed me in that moment. I didn’t understand a word he was shouting but every human knows when they’re hated by another human. The crowd grew as this man continued to yell, weep, and gesture in my direction.
Suddenly, the pastor of my church was at my back, his hands on my shoulders, and his voice quietly directing me to leave my purchases in their basket on the floor and exit the market immediately.
The crowd parted to let us through but the gentleman’s shouts followed us out the door.
On the street, I had to jog to keep pace with the pastor who kept looking back over his shoulder past me at the market.
“What was that?” I panted. “Why was that man so angry with me?”
“He wasn’t yelling at you.” The pastor quickly replied.
“Oh, he was most definitely yelling at me.” I prodded. “I don’t understand.”
“This is not a good day to be an American around people with long memories. That is all. He wasn’t angry with you. He is angry with the past because on this day, he remembers it too well. I think it’s best if you remain inside your apartment at the church until tomorrow.”
No problem, I remember thinking. When I called home to describe the strange event, my mother reminded me that this was the day the allies won their victory over the Japanese in WWII and I realized why the sight of me cause the man such distress.
Until that moment, I’d never experienced intense hatred and anger directed at me simply because of my connections with a particular group. The experience stuck with me through the years.
Many believers experience similar confusion when they find themselves the victims of spiritual attack.
Why is this coming at me? They think. I’m no one. I’m not important in the church. I don’t lead a giant ministry or take political stands or plan to go on the mission field. Why am I the victim of attack?
Mostly, it’s not about you. But when you choose to associate yourself with Jesus Christ, you gain an enemy.
That older Japanese gentleman was not my enemy. I was in his country to show him the love Jesus Christ has for him. But when he looked at me, he saw the face of an enemy from his past and that was all that he could see.
When Satan and his forces look at me, they also don’t see me. I’m nothing to them. But they do see Jesus and they are enemies of Jesus, so I become a target of their attack –
simply through my connection with Him.
And so do you, loved ones.
I was delivered from that frightening moment in the market all those years ago by the appearance of one who understood what was happening.
I didn’t understand the battle I was in but the pastor who showed up for me did. He walked with me through it and I was protected and unharmed.
We also have One who understands the battle better than we do. The Holy Spirit shows up at our back and walks us through any and all attacks of the evil one. Satan is powerless in the presence of Christ and we are filled with His presence.
But too often, caught off guard, we freeze with fear. We scramble to understand what is happening simply by what we see. Divorced from the history of the situation, nothing makes sense.
We must see our lives in the context of the eternal. The spiritual battle is not just fought in some distant place of mists and golden streets. The enemy attacks us where we live, where we work, in our beds, and in our bodies. Not because of who we are but because of our association with Jesus Christ.
But our association with Him gives us everything we need to either advance against the enemy, hold our ground, or walk away – depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit. We need to be listening for His voice in our ear – tuning into the voice that is more powerful than the one shouting in our direction.

Life is always more than what it seems, loved ones.  Are you paying attention?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8

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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Awesome post and oh so true. So many Christians don’t understand this principle and take the attacks personally and just quit. God bless you and keep writing the truth.

    Glenda Parker

  2. Angela Young says:

    What a great analogy. Reblogging.

  3. Angela Young says:

    Oops I guess I can’t reblog. Can’t comment with my WordPress identity either for some reason. Ah we’ll.