She grabbed hold of my wrist, tight like a shackle, and leaned in close. I could smell the morning's coffee on her breath and saw the weariness in her eyes at the start of a new day. "I can't do this anymore..." She whispered it frantically again, "I can't do this anymore... I hate this and I can't do this anymore. I hate myself and I hate my kids and I hate my life. And I can't do this." Our children were playing together at the park and we'd just put our things down. All I had asked was a simple, "How you doing?" and out it flowed, from the heart of a pent-up woman standing too terribly close to the brink. And the most frightening part of all was that she could have been you, she could have been me. A simple, well-intentioned, loving mom and wife who was taking the fiery arrows of the devils lies right in the heart. She clutched me like I could save, because she knew she was going down.
Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”] (Matthew 17:18-21)
Can a woman, in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, be possessed by Satan and his demons? No, I don't believe she can. But she can be oppressed. So thoroughly oppressed she feels possessed. Still, unable to claw his way into our souls, somehow his ugly whispers can seep into our thought-life like sulfuric poison. Slipping in stealthily, lies make their beds in our minds.
I know this full well, because, like this sweet friend of mine, I'd found myself speaking similar lies as though they belonged to me. "I am not good enough; I do not love enough; if I were more spiritual... then it would be different, I'd have the fruit of God's Spirit baring fruit instead of this rancid stuff."
Alone in my room I'd cry out night after night, "That's not the truth, Satan you're not welcome here! I love my family, I can do this, I love my kids, I love myself. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! They are fearfully and wonderfully made! I can do all things through Christ who give me His strength. He is stronger than you are and He's going to win in the end. So get out of here, you bastard! Christ is my peace, in His presence there is fulness of joy, I choose to consider this all joy, knowing that the testing of my faith produced endurance, that I might be perfect and complete lacking in nothing when this is over..." Out they came, scripture-truth hidden for years, combating the enemy's fiery darts.
But still, the war raged on. Day after day, negative thoughts about myself, my kids, and my marriage would slip from my lips in the quiet chamber of my room as everyone napped and I folded clothes. And then I'd sob, "I keep praying, I keep believing, why is he not fleeing from me?"
One night these words came quick like an answer: "...this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
The very next day I reached out to a Godly woman and asked her to pray over me, to pray over my entire home. I didn't tell her much, just asked her to pray. Of course she came fasting.
* Let me preface this by saying that I wasn't raised in a Holy Spirit, standing-up-raising-hands-anointing-each-other-in-oil-and-speaking-in-tongues home, but this friend of mine did all the above. Then she asked me, as my eyes remained closed, to tell her what I was seeing."
And I was seeing.
I saw Jesus, clear as day, on His knees with His fingers in rich soft soil. And I knew in an instant that the soil was my heart. There were weeds all around and he was gently combing through the supple dirt and lifting each gnarly root out. When he got to one particularly terrible weed I gasped, because there seemed to be no end to the root system. I started weeping uncontrollably, shaking and crying as she gently stroked my back, all the while jesus was pulling gently and the serpent-like body of the root kept coming up and up without end. Finally I cried out loud, "There is no end to my pain, there is no end... I cannot do this... I hate this... I hate this... I hate this... It will never get better."
Crying even now at the memory - ashamed to confess the home those lies had made for themselves in my soul. But the story goes on... because Jesus kept pulling and eventually the claw-like torn from the earth and cast aside.
There I was, torn apart and empty in the end. But this dear woman didn't let me rest, immediately she asked what I needed to replace the lies with. I started weakly mumbling truth, "I love my children, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, God knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give our family hope and a future. I love my children." My voice grew stronger. "I love my children and I love my husband. And I trust You Lord! You did a good job when you wove me together in my mother's womb!" And stronger still. "I trust You!"
Only a time or two in these past years have I been tempted to let those lies slip back in. But I know whose voice it is now. They are not my thoughts. And so today, let me encourage you to remember what is true. You do not hate your children. You do not hate your life. You are not less than the women to your right or to your left. You are incredible, as a matter of fact! And your husband does love you. And Christ will redeem your brokenness, because that is what He came to do - repair and redeem and restore.
So much wonderful truth to implant in the bare and fertile soil of our hearts, especially if you are fasting through this series with us.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17) "He has not given you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind through Jesus Christ our Lord." (2 Timothy 1:7)
What lies do you need for Jesus, the very gardener of our souls, to pull out by the root? And what seeds of truth should you implant in their stead, so that you are never again enslaved by shame?
Let my heart be sound in your statutes; that I be not ashamed. (Psalm 119:80) I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
Jesus is alive and He came to set us free! Dive into His Word today as you fast and pray, renouncing lies, believing truth!
Pray with me: Dear Lord, we believe, eradicate the weed of our unbelief that we might live the abundant life you came to bring. Amen.
(Link over here for 40 Scriptures for a 40 Day Fast. If you want to receive this post and others directly in your inbox, please sign up to receive email notifications.)