“…..then chances are, you and he are walking in the same direction!” I used that quote very many years ago, whilst speaking at a Youth With A Mission school, in Tema, Ghana, West Africa. The leaders there loved it: if I remember right, they even put it as a sign over their classroom door, even over the office door.
It’s one of those sort of ‘hackneyed’ Christian phrases that is so easy to dismiss, and yet there’s actually a very strong element of truth in it, if we are to be Christians who are ‘frontline’, ‘cutting edge’, outside our comfort zones. If we believe Scripture (and I do, by the way!!), then the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion: he’s on our case, and Jesus said, in a quote it’s hard to misunderstand, ‘In this world you WILL have trouble’….’BUT… don’t be afraid, for I have OVERCOME the world!’. So many Christians seem to live their lives without ever encountering the enemy (‘Satan doesn’t trouble those who don’t trouble him’ – another old-time phrase, with a very real ring of truth!). I put in a blog a little while back some comments made to me by a group of five pastors, one day, as we sat and chatted (well, I chatted with the one who spoke English – Samuel Lamb!) about the revival in China, which was then 40 years without ever stopping: so now more than 65 years without ending). I asked them about the revival: they told me ‘We never have a prayer not answered!’. I have to confess that then – and now, but to a much lesser degree – that was NOT my experience of prayer.
They went on to say, in answer to ‘What will it take for us in the west – in the UK and USA specifically, to reach that point’. Their communal answer was ‘We pray every day that God will bless the west with the precious gift of persecution!’. Men – and women – like them, in their society, constantly face up to, and overcome the enemy. In the letters to the churches, in the early chapters of Revelation, the word is: ‘To him who overcomes….’ If there’s NOTHING -as we see it – to overcome, no enemy to face, where does that leave us?
In Revelation, it says, too, that ‘they overcame by the blood of the lamb, and they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death’. I’ve recently acquired a book by John Piper, ‘Risk is Right’. I bought it because the subtitle is ‘Better to lose your life than waste it’. In fact, Jesus said that very thing, 5 times in the 4 gospels. So it must mean that we face a very real enemy when we do take risks.
These past weeks, I’ve been chatting with a good number of people who are front-liners, risk takers: personally, I don’t want to be anywhere else other than having to be in a position where there’s a very real enemy to beat, with the amazing knowledge that we can’t lose….the people I’ve been talking to are under pressure in countless different ways. Family, finance, somewhere to live, work, illness – things the enemy comes at us with to try to disable us.
In Cali, Colombia, earlier this month, all 5 of us there saw miracles and salvations. The enemy HATES that: so he hates US. Chris & Lee both arrived home with terrible stomach disorders, that required not just countless visits to the loo, but whilst there, changing ends, so to speak! They’d both prayed for countless people in Cali who had stomach disorders, so it did seem a little, er, coincidental! Lee’s still not really right, though I think Chris is ok now….
Before I went away, I said in an earlier blog, that I’d received one of the ‘do-it-yourself’ bowel cancer testing kits….very interesting, as they suggest in their little brochure that you ‘catch’ the necessary ‘sample’ in loo paper in your hand… personally I found clingfilm over the loo a lot less of a trial! When I got home from Colombia, having prayed for a few people to be healed of cancer, I had another – different – ‘kit’, as, in the first test, there was blood where there shouldn’t have been blood…
Completed ‘kit 2’ successfully, sent it off on Monday: Wednesday, a letter saying that I must make an appointment at the hospital (next Tuesday, so no hanging around, huh??!) and then probably, the delight of a colonoscopy….last week, too, I went to see a cardiologist (having prayed for many heart issues in Colombia!) for a follow up to some tests (echo-cardiogram) done a couple of years ago. Apparently, I’m told I have ‘aortic stenosis’, and, of course, POSSIBLY, only possibly, bowel cancer….
Is that the stuff of life? Or could it be an enemy prowling round, stupid enough to assault Chris, Lee, and me with stuff we’ve just seen God miraculously heal? Of course, it COULD be the ‘stuff of life’, but it seems unlikely.
If I’d inherited some of my family heritage, I’d have rushed out to buy a medical encyclopedia – actually, Google makes it much easier these days, I guess! – to find out what to expect. I SUPPOSE I should be concerned. I’m not being careless, or slapdash: I’ve done their tests, I’ll go to the hospital, I also have to see an orthopaedic surgeon about these jolly old knees (for what my GP says ‘need urgent invasive surgery’). Hmmm. I’ve lost count of the number of knees and pairs of knees I’ve seen God heal in the past 10 weeks, so I’ll wait for the scan: then, having been to all these doctors, I’ll know exactly what to pray for, get others to pray for, and what to tell the enemy to leave alone….
Maybe you’ll think I’m (even more) crazy (than you ever thought)!! I’ve had people say to me, ‘YOU shouldn’t be ill! You pray for the sick!’ Personally, I think that makes me a huge (in many ways!!) target for the enemy to have a go at. I used to believe that he attacked people – me especially – at my points of weakness: I don’t believe that anymore. He knows that I know where I’m weak, so he piles in at my strong points, and tries to bring me down that way.
Just wait, Satan…. I’m coming after you, even harder….