I have heard it said that God gives the hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. And while I am pretty convinced it holds little water theologically, I do know that the enemy does fight. He fights hard and he fights dirty. But I also know that God is the strongest soldier anyone could ever ask for on their team. In fact, if you have God, you don’t need anyone else.
But, sometimes it’s hard to remember that God is on your team because, as I like to say, Satan is a jerk– a loud, obnoxious, lie-filled jerk.
I’ve been struggling recently. I’ve been struggling to know and feel God’s voice, because the enemy has been RELENTLESS in attacking me and attempting to fill my mind with fears, doubts, and comparisons. And, it’s worked. I’ve been convinced that I am making a mistake– not only in my decision to leave, but in my decision to even go into ministry and pursue the study of Scripture. Somehow, I am being convinced both that I have no gifts, talents, and strengths, and that this path I am going down is a complete waste of my gifts, talents, and strengths. Satan, lie-filled jerk he is, has somehow managed to almost completely convince me that I am not wanted, not good at the things I should be good at in order to be an effective pastor, teacher, scholar, or student, and not enough. He has me doubting the truths that God has spent so long trying to remind me are true. Because if you read my last blog post you’d know that I’ve spent a lot of my life believing lies about myself. I have never been able to fully see my own unique gifts, and I have spent a good portion of my life believing I don’t really have any.
I know this doubt isn’t from God. Because all it says, over and over again, is “you can’t do this. No one will ever want you to do this. You should do something else– anything else. You won’t be good at this. You will be burnt out and frustrated. Everyone else around you is so much better than you. All the people who keep saying those nice things about you clearly don’t mean them. Your pastor and mentor is just telling you those things to be nice—he doesn’t really mean them. And he’s only helping you because it’s his job. He would want nothing to do with you if he had the choice. Your friends are only friends with you because they feel bad for you and because you’re around all the time. They always intentionally leave you out of all those things because they don’t like you. Leaving is the wrong decision. You’re just walking away from your frustrations and fears instead of facing them. If you leave, you’re just going to be invisible all over again. You’re not special– you’re not even that good. You’re inadequate, unqualified, and not enough.” And, I know that those words are not from God. Because God says, “I’m doing this with you. I love you. I called you. I will never leave you. I have unimaginably great things in store for you. You’re uniquely qualified and gifted because I made you. I called you because my work needs to be done through you. You’re not qualified, but I am, and all you need is my strength. I put people in your path who will help you, challenge you, and love you. They love you. You are loved. I see you and will never forget about you. You’re special because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” And that is the voice of God– I know that. But, what I often struggle with is believing it. Because God’s voice is often still and small. I know because I have seen it and heard it and experienced it. Every time I begin to believe a lie about myself, a still, small voice whispers a truth so unshakable in my ear. But, it seems like Satan’s voice is loud and large.
I have never been more certain of anything than I am that God is calling me to seminary, to Seattle, to ministry, to the constant pursuit and study of Scripture, and to the teaching of His Word (and if He isn’t, then He certainly has a cruel sense of humor. Because the joy and passion I feel when I study His Word, as well as that full ride to seminary sure seem like a clear call to me). I know these doubts aren’t from God. And yet, every time I start to begin to believe God’s truth again, the enemy comes at me with another lie that seems so much like the truth. And his lies are so sneaky. They creep up when I least expect them, then they become so loud they seem to be truth. And it doesn’t take much. It takes one Instagram post. One text message. One action or reaction. One small thought. It takes one person being asked to do one thing instead of me. And before I know it, I’ve got myself convinced that everyone who likes me is just pretending, I have no strengths, and everyone is wondering why I ever thought I’d be good at the things I feel for sure I am being called to do.
And honestly, I’m tired of fighting his lies. I’ve done all the “right” things. I’ve prayed. I’ve read the Scriptures– multiple times, in multiple languages, hoping something will stick. I’ve reached out to my friends. I’ve made and listened to the Spotify playlists (which I will include a link to. Because this one is Live– all about living knowing who you are in Christ. And just because I am playing it on repeat until I believe it does not mean I am the only one who needs it.). I’ve gone to the places that make me feel closest to God and begged God to speak to me, to show me something, to make me feel something. I genuinely believe that God gave me my intelligence as a way for me to feel close to Him, because every time my brain is stimulated (especially but not only with information about God and His Word) I feel alive. I feel connected to God in ways I don’t otherwise. So, I’ve poured myself into Scripture, articles, word studies, and anything else to make me feel connected. And yet, I still struggle to believe God’s truth and am tired of trying to fight the lies. I’m tired of the same doubts creeping back up into my mind and making me feel like I am less than. And, honestly, sometimes I believe the lies because it is just easier that way.
But, the truth is, those lies I want to believe are just that– lies. They are just ways for the enemy to get me to disobey God’s call for me because he’s scared of what will happen if I do obey. Because, whether we are called to pastoral ministry or not, or whether we think we are a “strong soldier” or not, any person following God’s call for them is someone not following the enemy. So he is going to do anything and everything in his power to make us believe his lies. And this battle I’m tired of fighting doesn’t have to be fought alone. In fact, it doesn’t have to be fought by me. It’s already been fought, and won, by God. All I have to do is be still, know He is God, and let Him fight for me. So, I keep repeating, over and over, “not today, Satan.” Because I keep reminding myself that God will fight for me. Because I am definitely not the strongest soldier. But God is. And God did not give me this battle to fight—the enemy did. But, joke’s on him because God already won it. All I have to do is believe it.