Several years ago, I had an a very negative experience.
The church I attended was experiencing some big changes and although these were good, an enemy had an agenda too.
Difficulties began to emerge relationally, a number of people were confused, hurt and communication began to break down. People’s minds and hearts were under assault. It became clear that there was more at work than human souls.
I assumed the affects were localized to people directly involved in some of the conflicts. Therefore, My experience seemed bizzare and unrelated to praying about these issues.
I began to have mental flashes, intrusive mental pictures and short movie type scenes playing in my mind that no one would want. They seemed intermittent at first and were disturbing. Then the frequency increased and occurred both at night and in the day.
At this point of such an experience, many people begin to wonder, “Am I going crazy? Am I losing it?” or assume that this can be the only plausible answer. Sometimes, maybe most times, it’s psychological warfare.
Because I didn’t understand what was occuring and didn’t seem to know how to completely block these images from my mind, I began to feel distressed and anxious. My present experience seemed to outweigh my spiritual training–my understanding needed upgraded, but not the way I expected.
When we encounter new things, or the unknown, we are in learning mode. We Don’t feel we have all the info needed for the present. We have past experience and victories to guide our responses, but more so, we pay close attention to our commander for more Intel and directions.
On Ground level, such experiences may feel chaotic. It’s hard to see what’s actually taking place, and Friendly Fire may occur. What we experience at ground zero may feel intense, confusing, painful.
At some point, I shared with someone that I was experiencing some unusual things and found out that many others were as well. In this situation, trying to figure out what spirit is creating the trouble is often typical protocol for spiritual warfare.
Many, if not most of us, have been taught in both the natural world and the spiritual, we need to trace the source of the enemy attack in order to be free, to find out how the enemy found a door or legal right. This typical response is so opposite of what Holy Spirit began to teach me.
Often we are taught things that sound spiritual but aren’t necessary to our freedom and may even cause us to feel more bound up. When we honestly desire truth, He will lead us into it.
Eventually the trouble all stopped, and in the aftermath I could see so clearly what I couldn’t in the midst of the experience. Because it had seemed so real, I was afraid that somehow I might be at fault for what I was experiencing, or that I might be losing the ground I had previously gained-even though my whole heart was resisting and I just wanted it to end.
I’ve learned so much since that experience about a new kind of weapon. A type of “warfare” that consists of a state of Rest.
Sometimes people describe contending for something and yet as I listen to them it sounds more like they are praying from a place of fear, or trying to shadow box (which is what I’d been experiencing with those mental flashes).
True contending comes from a place of standing firm in confidence, knowing that we have the upper hand in authority and power, convinced that we are already triumphant.
As I thought about that past experience, I found myself wishing that someone could have identified the real issue and told me:
The fact is you Are Free, and no attempt to affect you changes that. Nothing has changed in reality; you are experiencing a ruse.
All I really needed was to know that it was merely smoke and mirrors; it wasn’t me and wasn’t mine and I didn’t need to react as though it was. I could have simply rested and known I was just fine, ignoring the mind tricks. Any tactic the enemy was using was simply that-a tactic. Nothing had actually changed.
None of it was real.
Like in the Divergent series, when Tris is in the water tank and seems about to drown (which felt very real to her in the moment) but suddenly she saw and knew the truth:
“This isn’t real.”
The experience was a phenomena of the mind that felt very real, like a dream might, but when she realized it was merely a psychological phenomena, she was free that instant-actually she had been free the whole time. She simply came to that awareness. Test over.
The experience I had was one of the worst types of torment I’d ever experienced. But now I know something I didn’t understand then:
If it’s not His, it’s not mine.
I am one spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17). I don’t have to shadow box a defeated enemy. I don’t need to wear myself out resisting, repeatedly declaring, binding, and trying to block the enemy from messing with my head, sparring until I’m exhausted, only to start all over again the next day or time.
Here’s a fact. Our spiritual enemies are narcissists. They love for the focus to be on them. The more you spar the more egomanic they behave. That’s why Rest is an amazing weapon. It’s function is much like the imagery in Psalm 23.
THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head withoil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
I can dismiss whatever isn’t good, pure, noble or trustworthy because the Strong Man (Holy Spirit) lives in me. This house is filled. I can set my gaze on the One who loves me and gave himself for me.
Experientially we learn to live in our dominion too. When we know the truth, we experience and live the Helmet of Salvation, the mind of Christ. Our mind becomes a fortress of peace when we understand the truth.
We don’t have to feel vulnerable, we can be confident in trust, and enter His rest.
See TheologyMom for another testimony.