Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Heart above the Head

I’ve received some concerned emails over the past couple of months, wondering where I’ve been and why I hadn’t posted anything since November 27th, 2005. First of all, I’m sorry – but no, I didn’t get put in the hospital or get married or renounce my faith or anything crazy like that... I was in a different season of my walk with Jesus. It was not a time for theology or reflection. It was not an easy time and was not always fun. It was a time of warfare. And it wasn’t the strategy side of warfare either. I was deep in the muddy trenches.

Let me explain. We’re in the middle of a war, right? You hear preachers talk about this all the time. But, it’s not a war against the abortionists or the Terrorists or the neighbor that steals your paper.... It’s not a war against other people at all – it’s just not. A lot of us need to let go of that idea – we’re not in a holy war against other races, against people who speak other languages or even those who believe other things about God or god or gods. It’s a war alright, but against “the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12) And our enemy is intelligent, deceptive and absolutely ruthless. Over the past two months, I have seen a darker force ruling this earth than I had ever imagined. A force that conceals himself – so that, like a black hole, you only know he’s there by the absence of Light. And you only know he’s gone when the Light breaks through, by the name of Jesus and the power of faithful prayer.

If you’ve ever read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis or This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, you at least have an idea of what I’m talking about. He is set on disrupting the plans of our Father. He will stop at nothing –your finances, your health, your logic, your mind, your emotions, your doctrine, your family, your job… all open to attack. He will make you feel sick for three weeks straight. He will give you headaches you can’t explain. You’ll wreck your truck. He’ll try to pull you from community. Your greatest temptations will be laid before your face. Most of all, he’ll whisper disobedience into your mind.

This whole story began when I was drawn into prayer beginning early December of last year – I didn’t know why, but I spent every night for a week and a half, coming home from work and praying and worshipping God for hours. During that time, I sensed the Lord’s Spirit (which I will write more about later) was preparing me for a difficult time. Shortly afterward, my friend offered me a job in which I would leave GE to work in an agriculture start-up business in East Texas. I began praying that God would lead me – and that, if it was His will, He would confirm it at least three times. Over the next two weeks, God confirmed this path almost two dozen times. My family, my friends, everyone seemed to support this as well… which is crazy, since it is definitely not a “logical, stable career move.” There was a lot going into this decision, which I can also write about later, but I sensed very early that this was going to stir a lot of warfare from the evil one. The enemy resists you when you become a threat.

I could write the full story of all the attacks I faced – in which I felt like Marlow in Heart of Darkness. Instead, I’ll talk about the most difficult, surprising and potentially damaging trick the enemy tried… he tried to get me to be disobedient by appealing to my ‘sense of decency.’ I made my decision to leave, prayed about the date I would give my notice – and it came up February 6th. A Monday. Shortly after I made that decision, I found out our company’s annual three-day leadership meeting would be held the Tuesday-Thursday of the week before – and I was going. About a week later, two weeks before the leadership meeting, an executive at one of our large customers emails my region manager to tell him they “refuse to work with [GE employee name here] any more – he is not our man, give us someone else.” So, my branch manager, ops manager and region manager call me into their office, paint the grim story of this troubled account and say, “Brad, we have no one else to take this customer – will you handle it until we can find a permanent replacement?” It was the first time I had ever hesitated at accepting an opportunity – in a matter of 5 seconds I had to decide which was better: telling them “no,” leading them to ask ‘why not’ and having to explain, well, I was quitting… or, saying “yes,” taking the account and doing my best for the couple of weeks I had it… I wanted to say no, but my gut told me to say yes. I did. I left feeling like I was not being fair to GE, that I should not shoulder that responsibility for only four weeks, only to turn it over again… I felt like crap inside, honestly. Now, fast forward to the leadership meeting… Take a guess at what the primary topic of the week was -- that’s right: employee retention! For three days I got to talk about how to retain our employees, when I was in fact quitting on Monday. I even sat next to the HR manager for all of GE Supply at dinner one night. Awesome. Again, I felt like scum. This entire time, from the moment I heard about the dates of the leadership meeting until late January, I felt like abandoning my chosen date and telling them early. It seemed like the only decent and responsible thing to do.

In making that decision, I spent an entire Saturday in prayer and fasting – seeking God’s will in all of this. It was a hard day. The enemy was warring against me. I was distracted, I couldn’t think straight, I felt tired… but there was a moment in prayer, when suddenly God clearly told me: ‘Brad, you’re under attack -- Stick to your path.’ So I did. I’m not going to pretend to know why Feb 6th was the date – but I do know that God brought forth a mighty victory because I was obedient. Not only did I get to share my heart for over 30 minutes with five of my key bosses, but at the end of the discussions, the president of the business told me that he ‘respected what I was doing’ and that if ‘I ever needed a job, you have my cell phone – just call me up.’ Additionally, he left the door open for me to return to the program if the company goes under. Is God good or what?

I chose to write about this as my first entry since coming out of this tough time because I truly believe that knowing the reality of who we are fighting against is the first step to being able to effectively fight and claim the victory God has already won. Calling on Jesus, staying close to Him and following in humility is the whole of the strategy to take… I thought about titling this entry “wisdom is not enough,” because, in battle, its only one of the tools you need for victory – along with the word of God, the Spirit of God and a community of support and prayer. Instead, I called it “heart above the head” because a lot of the two months were spent on my knees in prayer, bent over with my head physically lower than my heart – asking for simple things, like strength for the day, light for my path, God’s protection and offering worship to a holy God. That is where true spiritual warfare is done (prayer), simply because of the nature of your true enemy (ephesians 6:12). Praying in that position was a way of reminding me that I am to live primarily from my heart in obedience to God, not my logical head or emotions alone.

Lord, help us to see this is not a war against people. Teach us, through Him, the Holy Spirit, who teaches all things, how to fight against the darkness who rule this world. Lord, I am weak because I have seen the power of the darkness – but you are my rod and my staff. Father, You command the demons and they shutter at your precious Name. You, Lord, are my shepherd and I shall not fear. Lord, I will bow in humility, with my heart above my head.


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