On Our Guard

What is the hottest game on the App Store now? What are people raving over?

Pokémon Go. 

It sounds simple enough to me- there are special locations mapped out near where you are. You find those spots, find the Pokémons… 

I never really thought much about Pokémon and what it was about. I remember that when I was a child, my friends played with Pokémon cards, figures, games, and talked about Pokémon all the time. I felt lonely, because my parents had told me that Pokémons were essentially pocket monsters and I was asked not to play with Pokémon.

When the Pokémon Go game rolled out, I watched a video of someone playing the game. It felt eerie, almost like it was introducing another realm to this. Then I read an excerpt of an interview with the creator of Pokémon, and was shocked. I won’t talk about what he said, but it confirmed my fears. 

Pokémon Go is just one example of hidden significances in seemingly innocent things. There are so many more. 

The CERN tunnel launching was one example. I remember when my family watched the video of the opening, I felt an uncanny presence, and mentioned it, but everyone ignored it and we continued watching the video. It didn’t seem very scary, but that evening, as the sun sank into the shadows and it grew dark, I began to feel afraid. I dared not step into any place not fully lighted. Soon, I was paralyzed. Terrified.

The next day, we prayed over the matter as a family, and after several rounds of prayer, I could finally go in and out of my room without fear. 

I once heard a speaker talk about a time when she was at a conference, speaking on the spiritual significance of certain symbols. The system was down, and her slides weren’t projecting, so she drew one of her symbols as she spoke. But as she did so, people in the room began to sense something amiss. Someone started screaming and flying at people in a rage. They realised it was the act of drawing the symbol that had released spirits in the room. All of them joined in a prayer and commanded the spirits to leave in Jesus’ name, and all was well again. 
How many of us are unknowingly unleashing powers of the evil one in our lives? How many? 

I realize that many people will disagree with me on this, and if you don’t agree, it’s all right. I don’t condemn you. 

I do, however, plea with us to reconsider some of our activities. Are they safe? Are they beneficial? Are they of the LORD? If not, I pray that we will be able to seek God for the strength to follow His will. 

But most of all, let us always be aware of what we engage in. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.

Let’s be on our guard. Don’t let the devil take hold of our lives, because we bong to God. Let’s be on our guard. Let God lead.

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Tried and True

This post is a continuation of last week’s post, In the Storm. You can read it here.

That conversation with my friend got me thinking. In order to pray that prayer, “God, let me see You IN the storm,” I need to trust Him and believe that He has His plans for me. 

Growing up in a Christian family, something I’ve always struggled with is having a real relationship with God. My birth certificate says I’m a Christian, but does my life say that I’m a Christian? Does the way I relate to people say that I’m a Christian? Does the way I respond to trials say that I’m a Christian?

For years, I contended with myself over the issue of whether or not I was a real Christian. I went to God when I had problems and didn’t know what to do, and that worked, but when I tried to do my devotions I never had the energy to hold through anything longer than a week.

People said that when they became Christians, they were so full of joy, they were changed, their mindset underwent a paradigm shift, they were energized with wanting to know God better, and sought Him with a hunger and thirst that I never seemed to be able to experience. What was this? I had the desire to know God but my efforts seemed to simply vanish.

Other times, God just felt so inexistent. My prayers seemed to hit the ceiling and fall back down. I would wonder if my prayers went unanswered because everything was just a coincidence, and I would wonder about why Christians seemed to go through more sufferings than others. I wondered about which “religion” was really telling the truth – all religions claim to lead to heaven, so what if I had chosen the wrong way? 

Now, even as I share this with you, I continue to have my questions that have yet to be answered. But something that I have discovered and decided to cling onto is this: Faith is not feeling that something is true. Faith is choosing to believe that something is true.

When it comes to trials and difficulties, I’ve come to realize that they, like the Bible says, are all a part of God’s plan. God is our Father, and like most earthly parents, He wants the best for us. Sometimes, our parents allow us to make mistakes, get into trouble, or experience challenges. Why? It’s not because they couldn’t care less, but it’s because they want us to learn. Likewise, God allows trials in my life because they will teach me lessons that can’t be taught from textbooks and lectures. 

In Psalm 34:18, the Psalmist writes, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” and that’s a comforting thought to me. I often find it hard to believe, that God actually understands what I’m going through. But when I take time to slow down and think, if He created me and all my emotions and everything else in between, why should He not know how I feel? 

In Jeremiah 31:3, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” 

God’s love for me is everlasting – it’s never going to die down. He’s never going to get tired of loving me. 

So, if He’s not going to give up on me, I can trust that He will bring me through my storms. 

Sometimes, I think that when I face storms, it’s God saying, “Hey, girl. I’m here. Your storm is meant to show you that I’m real.”

And I think that’s true. Through the storms I face, God is giving me a way to make my faith real for myself. Love is not a feeling, it’s a decision. So is faith. I don’t need to feel that I’m close to God to be a real Christian. I only need to make the decision to entrust my life to Him and to seek Him as I walk this journey of life. 

It’s easy to seek God and feel close to Him when everything is going well – after all, He’s the One Who provides all that goodness right? But when the storms come, that’s when my faith is tested. And I know, if I can trust Him and seek Him by asking, “God, let me see You IN the storm,” one day, my faith will be found to be tried and true.

In the Storm

Some time ago, I was talking to a friend about life and its challenges. Our discussion continued deep into the night, and when we finally went to bed, it was nearly three, but despite the general fuzziness that ruled my head at the time, I remember what she said.

And I quote:

“Sometimes, the way God works is… He doesn’t change anything about the situation and we battle on wondering what on earth He is doing and cry out for relief in the storm. And our prayer shouldn’t be, “God, take away the storm.” It should be, “God, let me see you IN the storm. Don’t take me out of it – draw me to you IN it.” And that’s what He does! He doesn’t take us out of the storm. Nothing might even change. Like literally nothing. But He changes US in the storm. Into someone we never imagined we could be. I mean, someone with the grace and strength that we could never create on our own… how can we possibly be gracious and strong in [such] situations…? How could they ever be anything but negative?  It’s literally impossible from the human perspective. Literally the only thing that can keep us going is when our hearts have been transformed IN the storm as we are completely and utterly broken before the Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but that spoke a lot to me. Each of us has experienced our fair share of trials and heartbreaks, and it’s no small feat to get through them.

I think back to times when bad things happened to my friends and family, times when I was betrayed by people my heart held dearest, times when misunderstandings turned things upside down, times when I lost people I loved.

And I think of now. I have friends going through the same things, experiencing the same pain, struggling with the same questions…

And I realize that truly, God has a higher plan for me. And for you, too, whether it seems believable or not. I know there were periods of my life when I felt I could no longer trust Him. Days, weeks, and months on end…

But as I take another step in this journey called Life, I have been shown through my friends that He put me through those tough times for a reason- so that I would be able to understand, empathize, and encourage.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

It just reminds me of how God uses hardships in life – yes, even those that make you feel like giving up on life – to turn us to Him, so that we may strengthen our relationship with Him, and that we may find Him a true friend and Father – the only One Who truly understands us and Who can help us through our fiercest storms.

So together, as we journey through life, let us not pray, “God, take me out of this storm.” Instead, let us turn to Him and pray, “God, let me find You IN this storm. Never let me go, because You made me. I am precious in Your sight, and I want to discover a whole new depth of my relationship with You.”

Together, let us look to Him, to find Him IN THE STORM.

Blessings,

Szen