"for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~ephesians 6:12
i've been back in minnesota for a little over 2 weeks now. of the past 16 days, 4 of them have been consumed with intense spiritual warfare. i suppose it was foolish of me to assume that i could lolly-gag my way into minnesota, a direction orchestrated by the gracious father, and not experience encounters with the army of the evil one. when i first began the journey of following christ 7 years ago, i was introduced to the truth that the world in which we live is a giant battle ground. the heavenly realms are jealously pursuing the throne room of the human heart so that we may embrace and experience the atoning love of christ. and for all of the strength and passion god exudes in his pursuit towards us, so too satan is vehemently slithering through the lives of men leaving his poisonous residue of deceit, strongholds, and hatred. but it has only been in the last 3 years that i have personally tasted, fought, and endured the crimson vibrancy of this bloody warfare.
a couple friend of mine went out of town to a cabin in northern minnesota this week and so i had the privilege of house/dog sitting while they were away. a few days prior to this i had filled out somewhere around 20 job applications so i thought that i would spend my time house sitting to search for more jobs and call the managers to all of the 20 placed i applied to. day one was filled with phone calls and sitting in front of the computer typing in my educational background and work experience. by the end of it all i could complete an entire application in 2.4 minutes without breaking a sweat. that evening i spent some time in quiet solitude with the lord. during our communion i heard him say; "wait on me." i have to be honest, i hate those words. i know i have done everything i can do up to this point. now i just have to wait.
with those restful and frustrating words god spoke, i decided to embrace the remainder of my house sitting time as a spiritual retreat. through the hours god spoke tenderly to my heart, by the guiding of his spirit powerful times of intercession were formed. i finished a brilliant book by brennan manning, a colorful read on intercessory prayer, and the commencing of a third book that immediately demanded my attention. in addition to all this satisfying goodness, i was also blessed with the space to pray for the week of summer camp that my former solana beach kiddos are enjoying, for four of my dearest sisters in christ that are spread all over the world; and for the marriages of countless friends, the restoration of strong families, and even for god to provide my own life with a place to live, a job, and a church community to call home. yes, it was a priceless retreat to be sure. the flip side to this time i intentionally committed to god is the ugly presence of satan. again, why should i not have anticipated the, pardon my tongue, dirty mother freaking bastard to sly his way in? and all i can say is duuuuude, the snake fought hard.
one of the facets of this new life direction i am in is the necessity of a church family. i am actually deeply excited about the entire process of searching for a place where i can belong. a place where i can not only be fed, but also a place where i can serve and pour out the love that god has lavished upon me. my personality's dna is a tightly knit thread of glamorous independence. i long to venture out and find a church all on my own. i want to try out different communities all on my own. i want to be challenged and uncomfortable all on my own. i suppose this is my peculiar fondness of having "my own" things, i like to know that i am capable of doing things "on my own". a few lovely friends of mine invited me to try the church communities they have been adopted into. some of them i legitimately want to experience, but the desire to first set out, you guessed it, "on my own" overrules the invitations.
this morning was the first of many sundays i would spend trying on different communities. first on my list was woodland hills church. i was excited to go and enter into a worship service that i did not have to work at. for the first time in two years, i was simply an attender. the night before i looked up service times and directions so i was set to go. once all my bags were packed from my long week of house sitting, i said goodbye to my couple friend and hopped in my car. my anticipation was immediately crushed when it wouldn't start. my car had never before given me any problems what-so-ever. i take excellent care of maizey (rule #1, you have to name your car) and she takes care of me. looking out the window my friends extended a confused glance. they came out and handed me the keys to there car so that i could still attend church. quickly i transferred by bags and before too long i was on the road. trying not to let the set-back of a disabled vehicle ruin my day, i started to pray for the worship service; that god would let me know if this is the place and the community he has for me. following the directions closely i started to realize that this church is a lot further than i thought. the minutes passed as quickly as a hummingbird flaps its wings and it felt as though i had been driving for eternity. before i knew it i was already late for worship. thinking to myself; "5 minutes late is not horrible." and still, driving, driving, and more driving. "ok," i thought, "15 minutes late, that's still acceptable." and then all of the sudden, the road that google maps directed me to came to a complete dead end. there was no street for me to turn on. google maps had failed me. by now i was half an hour late for service and had no clue where the church was located. stupid google.
i lost it. tears of frustration ran down my face and swear words sputtered from my lips like the powerful force of a fire hose. i was so discouraged, and as much as i hate to admit it, i was angry at god. i mouthed off to him (and it felt amazing) exposing the pains in my heart, the exhaustion i felt over always being in a season of waiting, and the frustration trying to trust him as my provider. the joy i had just minutes ago regarding doing everything "on my own" vanished and all i wanted was an already established church community... and a job... and an apartment... ugh. even as i type this colossal tattered rendezvous of finding a church, my soul boils over with weariness. dirty mother freaking bastard.
what am i to do? i look a little further into the letter paul wrote to the book of ephesus for my answer.
"therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground..." ~ephesians 6:13
i ask the lord to give me the strength to dress in his armor and fight. and when i feel like i can't fight any longer - which if i am to be completely real - is exactly where i find myself; i ask the lord to fight for me. this is what i am to do as i clumsily attempt to stand on the rock of trust and obey the word of the lord when he commanded me to "wait".