Chapter Twenty Nine: This is a War
Chelsea and I were just trying to endure the newness of sleepless nights and child-rearing as best as any new parents do. The trouble with babies, especially newborns, is that they tend to cry. The crying was like murder in my mind and would send me back to moments of madness when monsters masquerading as men caused little ones to scream in agony. I could not bear it when she would cry; even just the bit that comes with infanthood could send me into a spiral of memories too horrible to speak.
The first few months were the most brutal when the memories were raw and unfiltered. Like a fresh layer of seared skin burning when exposed to the air, so too did our souls blister having only recently experienced this world of life since their conception amidst death.
Chelsea did her best to buffer this, going above and beyond traditional motherhood and relentlessly sacrificing herself to take care of Naomi and keep her content. It was a pouring out of herself, which washed our heart in relief. I don’t know how we could have survived those first few months without her relentless willingness to accommodate our “sensitivity.” These sensitivities were not limited to babies’ crying but also encompassed the rejection of our identity, personalities, and past.
When you are born into the shadowy Underworld, all you know is the blackened lens you are forced to believe is the reality. For so much of your life, you are told that speaking The Secrets and talking about your memories will cause people around you to fear you, hate you, reject you, and ultimately leave you. It is that fear which unfortunately is so readily reinforced by those in your community, family, and friends that overwhelms you when you begin to talk about these types of issues.
It is so vital how we each choose to respond to people when they talk about things they have been so ashamed of, secrets they were once too terrified ever to tell another soul. In that moment of sharing, those wounded ones are opening up a tender piece of their soul and permitting you to help them heal or to cause more egregious harm. Each of us is responsible for how we react and how we either bless or curse them.
Our words have more power than we’ve ever believed. The words we are speaking will always either give life to another or take it away. There is no neutrality in this life; no amount of ignorance, ambivalence, or apathy can keep you from this truth. You can only serve one master, and your words will either fuel the furnaces of hope, restoration and redemption, or they will empower the fear, doubt, despair, and self-hate. How we choose to treat those entrusted to us will bear out fruits of life or will ensure death’s bounty grows among the living.
You must understand that there is a genuine war being waged in the spiritual realm day and night. It has defined boundaries and borders, and fortified strongholds. Two kingdoms, The Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light are battling every day for the souls of the Kingdom of Mankind. It is the Kingdom of Mankind – a sort of middle earth – where we live our lives under the continual influence and impact of both the light and dark sides. It is in the hearts, minds, and souls of humanity that this great contest and battle is waged.
Many of us believe we are soldiers for Jesus, but the reality is that just because you are on the battlefield does not mean you are in the fight. Hundreds of millions of soldiers have gone to war and yet there are many who’ve never fought a battle. Just because you know something about spiritual warfare does not mean you’ve ever waged war on the darkness.
Nearly all of us are guilty of hiding from the front lines where the battle is the thickest. We have been lulled into a slumber, which has kept us off the war-torn sights of chaos and in the trenches instead. It is in these trenches where the highest numbers of losses are suffered. It is from these positions of illusionary peace we surrender our power and sacrifice the true warriors every day. We think the battles are over and the wars have been won just because fiery arrows are no longer reigning down on us. We’d prefer to circle the wagons in our congregations where we can shove our comfortable heads back into the sands of ignorance.
The majority of soldiers have found themselves comfortable in their trench life and see no need to stand up and risk being shot. It is only on the rarest occasions that someone overcomes their fear with courage and rises from the complacent trench. From the tops of the lines they bellow out words of conviction, truth, and hope. It is these precious few overcomers who ignite those beacons of hope, which call to us, who have been trapped on the other side, showing us there is courage in The Kingdom of Light. Those beacons reminder us why we should all want that freedom to be our own.
Those courageous few often suffer the deadliest wounds and heaviest losses. They will be the first ones targeted by The Enemy to be savaged with relentless ferocity. If only those fiery bullets came from The Enemy’s side. The insidious nature of this world is that those who stand up from the trenches will get shot most by soldiers on their side. The Enemy is quick to use friendly fire to destroy the efforts of redemption, freedom, and hope. No matter the source of the fiery arrows, they still help to light the way to those trapped in the darkness making the perilous journey from behind enemy lines.
The spiritual realities of our lives cannot be ignored, and they are most noticeable when someone is making the most harrowing journey of their lives as they enter The No Man’s Land separating The Kingdom of Darkness from the Kingdom of Light. Those of us Survivors who were born behind enemy lines make a harrowing decision when we choose to leave our shackles and run for redemption. When we decide to make that run, the fire comes raining down upon us from both sides.
When a prisoner makes a break for it, enemy fire is always expected. What is not expected is the spotlight of fellow “believers” pointing on our chests, so they can aim for our hurting hearts as they seek to tear us apart. The doctrines of men have driven so much deception into the church at large, and it causes them to see those who are coming out of the darkness as The Enemy instead of as the reason we were all redeemed.
We were made to bring freedom to the captives, not shoot at our wounded. We were made to be a united front of furious forgiveness, passion, and faith who did not run and hide from The Enemy, but instead took prisoner Pan’s Labyrinth, Mt. Hermon and those gates of Hades. (Matt. 16) We are to be Followers of The Way, and The Captain of The Heavenly Host is supposed to be our leader, not the pastors, priests, or seeker-friendly sermons we hear at Sunday morning mass. He did not call us out of the darkness and into the light for us to be passive but instead to allow us time to heal, grow, and mature so that we would go and join our Captain’s fight in The War of The Ages.
Chelsea and I learned quickly the dangers waiting for us in No Man’s Land. We’d expected the spiritual and physical wars waged against us as we left The Family. What we’d never expected was the viciousness of Christians and those who called themselves followers of Jesus. The reality is that each of us is a walking spiritual conduit and our hearts are designed to have a spiritual occupant. Are not our bodies supposed to be tabernacles of The Prince of Peace? If we live our lives by following His ways, the homes of our heart can be filled to overflowing with The Holy Spirit, which will produce in our lives the fruits of His presence. If, however, we have left open the doors of our heart to The Enemy, we can traffic his spirits and ideologies instead.
When we have doors open to The Enemy, we will allow ourselves to be used by The Enemy to wound, hurt, and steal the hope of others. These doors can be opened through secret sins, rebellious acts of pride, bitterness, hatred or un-forgiveness. If we continue to resist The Father’s redemptive work in our life, the Enemy can build up for himself strongholds. Like the Tower of Babel, they are built brick by brick with our rebellious rejection of obedience to The Scriptures and by running from the conviction of The Holy Spirit. In a sense, The Enemy builds his fortresses within our camp. This allows The Enemy to use believers as double agents who strike out at the ones who need The Father’s love, patience, and kindness most. It makes us wound the ones we love and those who need understanding, compassion, and joy. It keeps us from walking in the fullness of our faith. Instead, these strongholds become cancer in our joints, tumors of torment that prevent us from uniting The Body of Messiah into the soldiers for salvation we were made to be. This infiltration of The Enemy allows him to strike out against those who’ve fled his Kingdom from within.
The Prince of Darkness is not omniscient, but his counterfeit to the absolute infinite intelligence of The Creator comes through his supernatural intelligence array. He is fed information from his spidery web of principalities, elementals, thrones, rulers, dominions, devils, and demons who are continually monitoring the Kingdom of Men and their chosen targets. It allows The Enemy to send precise devastating blows against believers should they ever rise from their trenches.
They are already well aware of our insecurities, fears, doubts, and regrets. The specific spirits assigned to us know the ways to craft lures of temptation to entice each of us back to our habitual sins. If we can resist his direct attacks, he will shift tactics to target us from other believers who have doors propped wide open to being under the influence of another spirit. We must not be unaware of our Enemy and his tactics. (1 & 2 Corinthians) Understanding this networked information can help followers of The Way begin to pray for the confusion of The Enemy, a breaking of the power of satanic surveillance and every assignment of The Evil One, or the blinding of the eyes of the Enemy, as the angels did in Genesis 19:11.
Chelsea and I tried spending time with people but even as we did, they would make insensitive comments about us or the situation we were going through. At times they would attack the ways we were choosing to live our lives. People would make inappropriate sexual jokes about rape or incest directed at me or someone else in the room. The comments had direct connections to something we were inwardly struggling with at the time. It was the oddest thing, and Chelsea and I had no frame of reference at first to understand why when we would walk into the room, our warmest people would shift from compassionate to cold and wounding. We would never have thought the people we trusted most could be turned into such vicious persecutors until we stepped into No Man’s Land.
The more Chelsea and I sought after a life lived in total submission to The Father’s will, the greater the frequency of these attacks became. Some were quick to make jabs about our need to “just get over it,” or making sure we knew they never wanted us to talk to them about our past. Those who do not guard their mind and renew it so that it becomes like that of Jesus can be left to be sifted like Peter who renounced The Messiah or to be manipulated by fellow Christians to target the wounded.
Chelsea and I thought we could find safe places where people would be patient with us and not condemn us for the way we’d chosen to separate ties from our Family but our places of refuge grew to be less and less. Even the church we’d been going to at the time, which had so graciously paid for portions of our counseling sessions, became an unsafe place.
My Family, mostly my father, targeted my church with relentless bombarding of the leadership and pastors. He employed other Family-controlled pastors who tried to convince our church to turn us over to them and to cut us off, but thankfully they had discernment enough not to give in to their manipulative demands fully. When this tactic did not work, he began to drive hundreds of miles each week and show up at the church services. His presence there and attempts to re-engage control of me was initially a blow to our peace and a stumbling block for our healing.
His obsession to reactivate and control us again forced us to make a decision. We could continue to try going to church and risk him getting access to Naomi, or we could stay in the safety of our home. Chelsea and I decided it would be best to stay home and start having “church on the pillow” where we could listen to teachings like Dr. Michael Lake’s Biblical Life Seminary: Understanding The Kingdom Series, or watch The Virtual House Church with Rob Skiba, and worship in unabashed joy.
Thankfully, The Father used that which The Enemy intended for significant harm and the destruction of our lives for our salvation instead. If not for those fiery missiles fired from within the church, Chelsea and I would never have become who we were made to be. To find our new identity, we had to leave behind the popular place of worship and head to the desert. Like the Israelites leaving the practices and traditions of Egypt, we too would have to go into The Wilderness to receive the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s revelations, understanding, and explosively powerful Instructions.