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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Pursuit...

Why is it that a sense of victory is often followed by feelings of defeat?

The times in my life that I've felt the most victorious over ED, have always been followed by valleys of defeat. In those times I have questioned myself. Was I really trusting God for my strength in recovery? Certainly there have been times that I was recovering on my own strength. Those times have always led to relapse and a turbulent downfall. I've recently discovered that these valleys are places for warfare. In the valley, God wants to test and refine us like gold. He wants to change us to be more like Him. But also in the valley is our enemy who is waiting patiently to destroy us. He sees the pain and struggle in a valley and he pursues.

Satan is no stranger to our every weakness. The devil is a lion, waiting and watching our every move (1 Peter 5:8). He knows when we give God control of ED and he is threatened. The closer we draw to God and the more we trust Him, the more Satan pursues us. He pushes in on our weaknesses until we doubt the very strength we have been given from God. Satan doesn't give up or give in easily. He attacks right at the moment that we are most vulnerable. When we feel confident in recovery, he desires to shake our foundation.

But God is right there pursuing as well. Relentlessly he pursues our hearts. He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5), especially in the valleys. He doesn't want a single one of his sheep to be lost. Like a shepherd, He comes back for us day after day. Jesus knows the temptations of Satan. Remember that He was also tested in the wilderness? And He was victorious over Satan, death and hell. So with His strength we can put aside the lies that the devil speaks to us in our valleys.

Satan's pursuit of us says...
Recovery is just too hard. You can't do it.
Try again tomorrow. Next week. Next month. You're not worth it.
Why bother? Who are you?
You will fail, you always fail. Just stop trying so hard.

God's pursuit looks so much different. He says...
Recovery is hard, but I'm right next to you. I'll be here every step of the way. I'll put people in your life to coach you. I will give you my Spirit to guide you. I am never far away, I'm right here. You can try again today, tomorrow and next month. When you are weary, come to me and I will give you strength. Don't give up. I love so much that I made you in my perfect image. Because of that, you are good enough. You are worthy. You are blameless in my eyes. You are LOVED. Now go do it - one minute at a time. When the enemy pursues, know that I'm here pursuing you too, relentlessly. His plans are for your harm, but mine are for your good.

When you hear the voice of Satan speaking to you, call him out for who he is. Speak the words outloud... NO - I won't listen to you or to the lies you are telling me. My God is mighty to save and he has already saved me from my sins and defeated you. Today I choose to defeat you as well by casting your words aside and trusting in the Truth that comes from my Savior.

Romans 5:3-5 states "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." James 1:2 states, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various tribulation."

We can rejoice in the valleys because in them we can know that we are being renewed. Paul clearly states that this testing produces in us qualities that make us more like Jesus. On the other side of the valley we can boast in what God has done in us and through us (Romans 15:17). Satan may pursue, but he doesn't need to be victorious over us. In every instance that Satan pursues, we have a choice to make. We can let him reign victorious or we can give God the glory through our life. We can choose today to say NO to his lies and YES to God's redeeming grace. We can look in the mirror and say, you no longer define me because I am being redeemed and made into a perfect reflection of hope, grace, and love from the One who bought me.

Periods of suffering are hard and painful. But isn't it in those times that we learn the most? We choose to spank our children because we know that the temporary pain will produce a crop of righteousness. When disciplining my son, I always tell him, I love you too much to let you disobey and make bad choices. My epiphany tonight as I lay here in bed, is that God is saying the same thing to me. God isn't just someone to tell others about, but he is a God for me.
I hear him calling out to me saying,

"I love you too much to let you drift through life without trials. Without suffering you will have no faith. Without faith you will not have hope. And without hope, you won't have a life worth living. In me there is hope and a life with purpose. I will test you and refine you so that you will see more of me in you. You are safe in my hands. You are my child and I love you. I love you too much. Just trust me."

So to Satan I say, "Bring it on! Keep trying to trip me up so that Christ can be made famous through me!"