I didn’t plan to write this post for you today. I had an outline for New Year’s possibilities and dreams, goal-setting and fresh starts.
But the truth is, that isn’t what was on my heart.
Traveling over five hundred miles to my South Carolina home for the holidays brought plenty of opportunity to reflect and look forward. But it also brought a reminder that for some, starting over because of a new date on the calendar isn’t so easy. For some, it’s not even a possibility.
We serve a God who makes all things new, but we also live in earthly bodies where the consequences of our actions are real. And as we enter the New Year, I wish with every ounce of my being that someone I love could start over. That time could erase the past wounds, the hurt and the mistakes.
We serve a God who’s in the business of doing the impossible, but there’s a fatal error we often make in our approach to family members and loved ones who self-destruct. Or at least, I know I have.
I’ve been fighting a spiritual battle with earthly tools.
It’s easy to say, “Stop.” Or, “Go to rehab.” Get a job. Do better. Get yourself together.
But there’s a war taking place in the spiritual realm we don’t see, and often completely disregard. Do we think the enemy wants those we love to get well? Do you think he wants to see God use what he intended for harm to become a living testimony to those who are lost?
Not for one minute. And he’ll do everything within this power to keep the wanderer circling the desert for another year, another ten or even a lifetime.
If we want to see progress, we have to recognize who the real enemy is. Because it isn’t the habit, the addiction or the poor decision-making. Those are only the symptoms. They’re the symptoms of a spirit in bondage. A spirit Christ wants to set free, but freedom is the result of a choice.
So what do we do? What tools do we have?
Fervent, unceasing prayer.
I’m not talking about prayers where we go to God and say, “Father, please make so-and-so well. Amen.” Does he hear these prayers? Absolutely. But I’m talking about tearful, heartfelt prayers that bring us to our knees. In the day, in the middle of the night, and every hour in between. Not seeing results? Pray harder. If your loved one isn’t dead, there’s still time for change.
Speaking the Word out loud, over our loved one, and in our prayers.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he defeated him with the Word of God. So if he needed the Word and his greatest enemy fled because of it, why don’t we use it more often? If don’t know about you, but this is an area where I can definitely grow.
If your family member or loved one is angry with God, remind him or her of his mercy and unfailing love. If they’re suffering from an identity crisis, remind them who they are once covered by the blood of Christ. Whether we see immediate fruit or not, God’s word never returns to him void. I can guarantee it.
Relying on the Spirit’s power, not our own.
I’ve often thought I could argue my way into reaching someone. But this has worked exactly zero times. What works is when I let the Spirit guide my words. When I listen for that still, small voice before I speak and I pay attention to his leading. This takes practice, and I’m by no means perfect at it, but I’m learning. I’m growing. And as long as I keep seeking him, he’ll keep guiding me, whispering whether to turn to the right or to the left.
On our own, we have no power to influence anyone. Especially someone who is being held captive by a darkness that clouds judgment, disguises lies as truth, and presents temporary fixes that lead to long-term death.
Friends, we have to get real about what we’re dealing with. I’m standing with you in the gap today, and I’m committed to the fight. Let’s go to battle for the ones we love, and start battling the true enemy. Let’s do it together, today.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV