Ever feel like you have a "personal enemy" just lurking at your back? You know, that eerie feeling that you just cannot escape some sense of doom and gloom that hangs heavy over your head? Yep, we all go through that on occasion - no matter how "spiritual" we are! Guess what - we DO have a personal enemy - he is called Satan. His mission in life is to make our life miserable as much as possible - especially if we have committed to living by the principles laid out in scripture and entered into the grace God extends through the life of Christ. He makes it his point to muster his forces to attempt to dissuade us from that pursuit. Here's the good news - you'd not be the object of his attacks if you weren't living the way Jesus wants you to!
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. (I Peter 5:8-11 MSG)
So, in the midst of realizing we have a personal enemy, here's what scripture tells us - keep a cool head! Don't get overwhelmed by the attack - but see it for what it is! It is a cleverly manipulated scheme designed to get us off track with Jesus - plain and simple! Something you may not have considered is the attacks from our "personal enemy" will not stop! They may lessen from time to time, but they don't stop. Why? He wants company in eternity!
Four things come to mind as excellent opportunities for our "personal enemy" to overwhelm us - those times or seasons in our lives when it makes it just a little easier for him to get an inroad into our lives. What are they? The times when we are hungry, lonely, angry, or tired.
- Hungry for the wrong stuff. Our "personal enemy" plays on our emotions - he wants us to develop wrong appetites in life. Not so much for the foods we eat, but for the stuff which will whittle away our time, sap us of our energies, and the like. He wants us to misdirect our attentions to those things which really don't amount to much in the end. If he can get our eyes off of Jesus and onto ANYTHING or ANYONE else, he has succeeded in taking us from a place of being satisfied in Jesus and being hungry for something else instead.
- Lonely seasons are the toughest seasons to navigate through. Why? Isolated people make good targets. If you have ever watched the nature shows, you know the lion doesn't hunt the herd, he hunts the one who stands apart, who wanders out into the open. This is a hunting tactic used by those who take their prey from the beginning of time. If you think Satan is any different in his "hunting" tactics, he isn't! He looks for the isolated because they make easy prey. The work of separating them from the herd is already done! So, to counter this attack, we need to be aware of our surroundings - know when we are getting on the fringes of the "herd" and in danger of pulling away from those who actually act to keep us in a place of safety.
- Anger is probably one of our toughest struggles in life - it is an emotion which is hard to understand sometimes. We don't always "break down" our anger to see what is at the root of it, so it keeps emerging when we least expect it. The result of anger is further relationship breakdown, the result of the further breakdown is the chance for isolation, or at least being surrounded by a crowd who may not help you be hungry for the right things! The sad part of anger is its destructiveness - not just of others - but of us. It eats at us until it forms a cavernous "ulceration" which just bleeds and festers all the time. So, if our enemy can get us focused on what we see as something we might just want to get a bit miffed about from time to time, he gets us working on the responses which lead us to form more frequent bouts of anger. It is cyclic. If he can get us angry with God - he scores extra points on that one!
- Weariness or being continuously tired is probably the hardest one of these to counter. You see, our personal enemy begins with our focus. If he gets us distracted, he can get us to wander a bit. If he gets us wandering outside of protection in our lives, he can get us to feeling isolated and isolated people find it easier to get angry when things don't go their way in life. Distracted, isolated, and angry people don't rest well! In fact, we drive harder, trying to outdo ourselves and others - eventually succumbing to the fatigue which acts as a shadow or cloud over our lives. The fatigue makes us vulnerable to attack! See it for what it is - his tool to make it easier for him to take us down!
I don't know about you, but recognizing what it is our "personal enemy" may be up to in our lives seems like a good idea to me. If you know the plan of attack ahead of time, you can counter the attack. Just sayin!