My tendency is to forget about what God has done and to find discontentment by looking towards all that is left to be done. I fret and fear about that which has not yet come to pass. When I look at my circumstances instead of keeping my eyes on Him, fear weighs on my heart like a ton of bricks. I physically feel the weight of thoughts not yet surrendered, and they torment me both during times alone and with others.
This year, our church has been working through the book of Acts. A few weeks ago, our pastor gently reminded us of three ways that the enemy seeks to thwart the purpose of the Gospel in our lives.
This perhaps is the sneakiest of tactics used by the enemy. We find ourselves entrapped by lies when we succumb to the thought processes of the world. This often happens when we are not in the Word daily or are feasting on the world through excessive television, social media, and the like. God calls us to live lives that are rooted in His truth.
When I keep my eyes on my circumstances or the circumstances of those around me, I despair. I find it hard to hold on to hope when I constantly focus on the negative situations which surround me, and I frustrate myself by getting caught up in the land of what if- questioning and doubting and over-analyzing to the nth degree.
This tactic is one that is so pervasive in our generation. We have learned to need to be entertained at every moment- whether with our phones or with a television screen. I for one hate silence, listening to music even as I fall asleep, afraid to be alone with my own thoughts.
These three tactics of the enemy have been present and unfortunately, successful in my life in the past couple months. It has been a daily battle to fight against the three and seek to take hold of the abundant life that God promises and desires. How do we fight? How do we find joy in the midst of a world that sometimes seems to crumble all around us?
1. Fight the trap of deception by being rooted in truth.
It isn't enough to just read the Bible every day. We have to meditate on His word, which means that we keep it in the forefront of our minds. One thing that helps me is to write out Scripture on index cards and place them where I know I will see them. Right now I am memorizing Psalm 16, and each week, I just write out a new verse. I also listen to music throughout the day that reminds me of who God is and sets my mind on truth.
2. Fight the trap of discouragement with a grateful heart.
I can find the negative in just about anything if I try. Case in point: I wanted a snow day so so badly. Today, I got a day off, but I was a sourpuss throughout the day because I was bored, my stomach hurt, and I didn't get to see my boyfriend like I thought I would. Mature, I know. Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts that fear and gratitude cannot coexist. So I cannot be afraid or discouraged or annoyed when I take the time to stop and tell the Lord, sometimes out loud, what I'm grateful for instead of counting up the things that I'm annoyed with at the moment.
3. Fight the trap of distraction by disconnecting.
When I choose to believe that I must be "connected" at all times by being glued to my phone, I miss out on what is right in front of me. When I text or check social media while I am with others, I do not fully invest in the moment that God has given me. My mind is often full to the brim with clutter because I often choose not to unplug. A couple action steps I've been trying to take lately are to stop looking at social media or texting after 9 pm or at work and to be careful to not text throughout the day at work unless I'm at lunch or on a break. It is much easier said than done, and I'm not perfect. But progress is better than perfection.
The enemy wants us to be bogged down by fear. He wants us to live in the constant state of worry and doubt that paralyze us. But when we do this, we are robbing ourselves of the life that God has for us. The life He calls us to is so much more than a life of fear. It is life of joy and surrender. And while it is not always easy, it is always worth it. It takes courage to walk in the light and to trust that He is in perfect control of our lives. But when we trust Him, we can rest in His love, knowing that He is more than enough for our every need.