"Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" - Jesus.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."- Paul.
"Be strong, and let your heart take courage all you who wait for the LORD!" - David.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." - Moses.
Maybe it is just my emotive temperament, or maybe all geezers planting churches get waylaid more than their share by bouts with worry and discouragement. From what I have read through the accounts of even the great Kingdom missionaries over the centuries, these two pernicious saboteurs of the heart show up unwanted with frequency. They have to be battled or they can hamstring a mission, even turn it back leaving spiritual bodies everywhere.
What is a saboteur? The simple definition is anyone who commits sabotage.
What is sabotage? It is any underhanded interference or undermining of a cause, mission or enterprise. It is designed to cause so much injury or disruption as to derail the success of its target. It is secretive, and covert.
So a saboteur is someone or some agent dedicated to disrupting and destroying its object, and it tries to do so without detection.
All Christians are the targets of demonic saboteurs who work to obstruct, entrap and destroy them. They can attack subtly or overtly depending on the foothold they have gained in a person's life. Sin is the easiest entrance point for them, especially chronic sin that has serious disruptive or wounding potential. Even if not the case, demonic saboteurs are at work daily to obstruct, frustrate, tempt, lie to, and harass every believer. The goal is to distract, divert and destroy a Christian so he or she gradually walks away from God in despair: believing lies, trapped in sin or convinced there is no God - he gave up on the likes of them.
Harassment, enticement and deceit are key weapons of these saboteurs. The heart is the ultimate battlefield. It is in the heart that the battle is won or lost.
Of late, meaning the last month or so, the saboteurs of worry and discouragement have been whispering lies. It goes something like this:
"You know the money is going to run out again just like it did at the end of 2009.
"Your counseling is drying up, little by little because you are a crappy counselor. No one wants to come and see a loser like you."
"You know how many bills you have to pay each month? How long do you think you can keep doing that?"
"You know God is not going to keep bailing you out. He is frustrated and angry with how inept you are. Imagine/Northampton is going to fizzle and die. Everyone will see your shame because of the fool's errand you have been on. He never asked you to come up to Northampton."
"Look at how few people want to be involved with imagine. They came and went because they saw how lame you are. You guys couldn't do this if your lives depended on it. You just don't have it. God is abandoning you to your failure. Accept it."
"Admit it . . .it's over. What a joke. And all the people who trusted you are ruined because of you. They believed in what you said, and you let them down."I could go on and on, but those thoughts were also accompanied by deep feeling of heaviness and emptiness showing up at night and at times when it feels we are dead in the water.The feeling were palpable and draining, both emotionally and physically.
I need to say, however, that people I know and love have been telling us God is having them pray more and more for us. To a person, they send words of encouragement, from God and from their own hearts. And, my own prayer life has been deepened and restored by the true adversity we have faced here in Northampton. I am getting stronger in prayer. Knowing other people have been summoned by God to pray and give witness to his love and mission for us has been water in the desert - treasures of life and spiritual sustaining. I have actually felt the physical sensation of some sort of darkness lifted off me twice early in the morning, a loosening and freeing. Quite extraordinary because I did not expect it, It happened all of a sudden.
I am realizing worry and discouragement are powerful saboteurs of the heart. They obstruct and work to inhibit the sustained enlivening of faith and hope. They work to undermine courage and plant cancerous doubt in the heart of Jesus-followers who are stepping out in faith to fulfill the Kingdom mission God has summoned them to.
Worry steals faith; discouragement turns us away from hope. Both wear down and exhaust our hearts until we are numb and weary. We become lulled into impotence and sterile submission.
God commands: "HAVE NONE OF IT! DO NOT LISTEN. DO NOT AGREE. DO NOT SUBMIT. DO NOT STAY SILENT IN THE FACE OF HEART-SABOTAGING WHISPERINGS FROM LYING SPIRITS!"
The Truth is . . .
Jesus exhorts us not to worry at all. He avers that our lives are so much more than our daily needs which the Father already knows and will provide.
Paul says worry over nothing, and pray all the time for our need. He says if we persist, peace will guard our hearts against lying saboteurs.
David tells us to stand strong and let our hearts hold fast to courage while we wait for God who will be faithful.
Moses asserts God Almighty is with you and me; he's never left nor will he. In fact, he goes with us into the places and amongst the people we dread. Why be afraid?
So where are the spiritual saboteurs in your Kingdom mission these days? What are you doing about it? Where to you need to be healed or restored?
Cry out to God and tell others to cry for you.
God is near and he is not worried or discouraged.