They say that confession is good for the soul. If so, I have a confession to make. I have an addiction. No, it's not alcohol or drugs or even food. I am utterly and hopelessly addicted to Africam.com.
Seriously, if you don't know what this is, you are missing out on something incredible. I find myself at 1 AM, 2AM and sometimes at 4AM laying in bed with my phone screen lit up, watching live feed of animals at several South African bush locations. It's amazing. Throughout the day, my phone buzzes with notices of crocs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, eagles, impala, kudu, warthogs, wild dogs and elephants. But I freely admit that my favorite is the "Big Cat Alert".
When that notice pops up, I stop what I am doing and open the notice. I have even gone so far as to stream the live feed on my desktop computer at work (while I'm getting my work done, of course) so that I can see the Big Cats. I've watched lions and leopards come to the watering hole for a drink. I've watched them prowl around, sneaking up on unaware Impala.
I Cannot. Get. Enough. Of. This.
Jeff has awakened in the middle of the night to find me completely enthralled at these animals, relishing being able to watch this happen live. I love it. I love being able to watch an Africa sunrise or sunset. I'm telling you, it's incredible to watch.
But recently, I watched something happen on that feed that struck a little close to home. And because I'm addicted I took a picture of it.
Do you see it? Look closely and you'll see that those poor Impala (or whatever they are) are in grave danger. Check it out.
Little did they know that lurking right beside them was this lioness, just waiting for the perfect moment to lunge and attack. And attack she did. And delivered the goods for her man, who seemed to enjoy it immensely.
This hits home for me. You see, I've been in a season of spiritual warfare. I feel like my senses are heightened tremendously because I feel the enemy prowling around me. It's been a long few months of warfare, and I sometimes feel like these unknowing Impala.
I feel it start on Saturday nights. Every. Single. Saturday. Night.
I feel the dread of the upcoming Sunday. I literally feel sick to my stomach as I think about going to church. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I love my church family. ESPECIALLY my Sunday morning bible study group. Those people are my FAMILY, and I love them fiercely. So, for me to dread seeing them is not normal. Not even a little bit.
I have cried more Saturday nights than I care to think about. And when Sunday morning comes, I'd love to tell you that I happily get up and do what I do without too much struggle. But that would be a lie. Instead, I'm angry. I shower while I'm angry. I put my makeup on and hate it every Sunday morning, despite the fact that I wear it exactly the same way every other day of the week. I get dressed and swear I have "nothing to wear" despite the fact that I have plenty. And I angrily throw clothes around while I change for the seventh time, grumbling under my breath about how stupid it is to have to get dressed at all.
By the time I get in the car, I feel defeated. Completely defeated. I am tearful and grouchy and just want everyone to leave me alone. Our weekly stop at Starbucks does nothing for me except delay my having to face everyone else there.
My husband is gracious and loving and honorable and all good things. Truly. He prays for me. I know it because he tells me that he does, and I've heard it. He and I both know this is spiritual warfare, Satan trying to steal my love for the Church away. But despite his prayers (and my own), the struggle remains.
I've cried out in my prayer time for the Lord to stop this, to give me back my love for community, for being with my church family, for the desire to fellowship. I've confessed everything I can think to confess, in case that's the problem. I've asked God to change me. I've even said I will go to another church if that's what He is trying to tell me to do. I stopped saying "no" to Him about a new thing I knew He wanted me to do, and I started actually doing it (another post for another time). And I confessed my sin in waiting so long to be obedient.
And yet.... here I am still feeling defeated and hunted.
And really, it shouldn't surprise me, should it? Here is what scripture tells me.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that thesame kinds of suffering are being experiences by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all Grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:8-11)
There is a certain peace that comes in knowing you are not alone. And I'm not. Heck, I'm not even hurting that much. Yes, it feels awful to me. But when I think of the scope of suffering many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are walking through, this warfare I face is really nothing. But I also won't downplay it too much. Because when we downplay the fact that we have an actual enemy out to destroy us, we end up like those Impala. We end up as dinner. And I'm not ok with that plan.
What about you? Where is Satan trying to sneak in on you? Where is he prowling, just waiting for the right moment to lunge at you and destroy you? Maybe it's relationship with someone of the opposite sex that isn't your spouse and is becoming less and less appropriate. Maybe it's what comes scrolling aross your computer screen and you think "Just one look won't hurt". Maybe it's a temptation to cheat on a test, take that which doesn't belong to you, make up one more lie to cover the last one you told. Maybe it's something altogether different. But I promise you this: If you are a follower of Jesus, Satan is there, waiting for the moment he can trip you up and defeat you.
Be ready. Be sober-minded and alert. Put on your armor daily, stand firm and let the Lord fight for you. Satan is already defeated.
So, Saturday night when that all-too-familiar dread rolls in on me, I'll recognize it for what it is and stand firm. And although it may not feel good, I'll rest in knowing that the Lord has me in his hands and will prevail in the end.
To Him be the glory.....