“If you need a place to stay, Eileen, you can stay here with us.” That was the phone call I received which confirmed our next step. I knew this place was where we were to go — that safe place; literally our place of Refuge hours away from what we used to call home.
A week prior, Kabeer told me to start packing for Tennessee. His instructions to get ready for the trip gave me the ability to just start setting aside laundry baskets of clothes without questions from anyone. My constant prayer was for intervention and a change of heart in Kabeer but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. It came down to that Wednesday departure, just 4 days before we were supposed to leave for Tennessee. As we came to that Wednesday mid-morning and the kids saw all the baskets in the trunk, the little ones with minimal concept of time, assumed we were just getting things ready for our road trip. Right before we pulled out of the garage, however, I told my oldest two to leave their gps watches behind. For those two, their hunch that this was more than just an ice cream trip was confirmed. Without question they left their watches tucked away in a cabinet in the mudroom and got back in the van.
As we drove off from Brainfreeze and headed out of Green Bay, I was finally able to talk to the kids about everything. They obviously knew we were going through a very difficult time, but just like me, they thought and hoped things would eventually get better. It didn’t take long for all the questions to start flooding in from the back of the van. “Are we leaving for Tennessee? Where are we going? Are we leaving dad? Are we getting in trouble? What if he follows us? How long are we going to be away? How long until we get there?” On and on it went. I explained to them why we left, what the plan was, where we were headed and that we would wait on God as to when we would come back. After settling them and answering all their questions, a quietness and a surprising calm filled the van.
I told the kids that it felt like we were the Israelites leaving Egypt and heading to the Promised Land. We talked about when they left and how God blessed them with plunder and provision as they headed out. Leaving town with a car full of food and care packages from our friends was just the beginning of God’s reassurance that He would provide all our needs as well. Like that pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day back then, God showed us that He was with us every step of the way. So many of His blessings followed.
As I told the kids specifically where we were headed, I prepared them for our stay there, unsure of how long it would actually be. Continuing with the talk of the Israelites, I warned them not to ever complain, to be thankful and to trust God no matter what. More than anything that was the tone I wanted to set. I wanted to establish a thankful, positive attitude knowing it would make all the difference in the world. As a mom, I always saw it as an opportunity and an honor to set a tone of gratitude for my kids. With the many challenges ahead of us, a lot of those opportunities would arise. It was time to lead by example. It was time to teach them about being thankful no matter what came our way. It was time to teach them about all the other spiritual weapons God gave us to fight.
God had taught me so much about being thankful in all things, learning to be content in all circumstances and how to fight HIS way. My mentality as this season went on was, “Devil, I’m not gonna let you steal more than what already you took from us.” I constantly reminded myself and the kids that we didn’t fight against flesh and blood and that our fight had to be with spiritual weapons of warfare, not earthly ones. Throughout this journey, God has shown me so much of how to battle in the spirit as well as how much power I truly have with His weapons. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
It makes me giggle to think about war and battling in God’s eyes. Our spiritual weapons of warfare seem kind of oxymoron-ish, even passive, in relation to fighting as we know it to be. With fighting there’s a mentality of anger, of revenge, of preparation of our weapons; whether in our thoughts, in our words, in our actual physical means of force (fighting fists, kicking feet, guns, knives, other tools, etc.) Often, when we fight we include others in our battles. We gossip, we slander, we shout, and we justify our evil intentions when we feel wronged. There’s this mentality and look of hardness — chest out, fists clenched, and blows of the mouth that are ready at will.
Spiritual weapons on the other hand:
Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. (Ephesians 5:19)
Praying for those who curse you, loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
Not repaying evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing your enemy, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Blessing those who persecute you; blessing and not cursing. (Romans 12:14)
Not taking revenge, my dear friends, but leaving room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
Rejoicing and being glad when you are persecuted or when people say all kinds evil things about you falsely. Being glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. (Matthew 5:10)
Having on your whole armor of God in order to stand against the schemes of the devil:
Your belt of TRUTH, shoes of PEACE, breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, helmet of SALVATION, and your sword of the spirit which is THE WORD OF GOD. (Ephesians 6:11,14-18)
Sounds kind of funny and flowery doesn’t it? Singing, praying, blessing, praising God when our flesh wants to lash out and put our enemies in their place. Really? Even with our whole armor, our sword is a book!? God is so funny like that. Yet, we know that our sword is not just a book, it’s the BOOK with more power than any earthly weapon can wield. Speaking the truth of God’s Word, speaking life into a situation instead of speaking death, praying for someone instead of cursing them, singing praises to God when everything in your being wants to cry, and fear, and hate and be angry. In the flesh it makes no sense, yet in the spirit realm, there is so much more going on than we could imagine; so much power released.
When we praise God, He inhabits those praises (rests in, sits upon, dwells within the praises of His people) which means He is there with us in the thick of it. When we pray and let God fight for us, He can do what needs to be done with His point of view, with His wisdom, with His power and authority. Who or what can even compare? As we grasp all of this, there really is no better place to be. What a burden lifted, what joy in our hearts, what less stress and strife when we fight God’s way. In no way am I saying it’s easy but I can say that I’ve never regretted doing it His way or felt that fighting on my own would be better. How foolish that would be!
I’m not sure how your holidays look, but it’s likely that in some shape or form there’s a battle to be fought. Whether family strife, struggling with the loss of a loved one, dealing with trials of life that will come, my prayer is that you fight that battle differently. What a world of difference it will make for you, as it did for me. My brain is wired to praise instead of complain, to pray for my enemies and forgive them instead of curse or lash back, to thank Him right in the midst of trials instead of fear. It takes practice, no doubt, but doing things His way will transform you and renew your mind. My God, my Daddy, fights for me and as His daughter, I will take His hand and rest in that. I pray you choose to do the same. You won’t regret it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Dear Lord, thank You for fighting my battles for me. Thank You for teaching me how to war with my powerful, spiritual weapons of warfare rather than my own weak, temporal weapons. Thank You that as time goes on, all that the kids have experienced this last season will resonate as they come into their own trials and battles. I also pray that whoever is reading this would reflect on how they fight and that they would see how much of a burden can be lifted if they do things Your way. Holy Spirit, give them the strength and the wisdom to start using the weapons of true POWER. In Jesus’ name. Amen.