Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Dark Shadow

                                                                                   photo by Luke Goodway

In a pleasant clearing, cushioned with a carpet of soft grass and  bathed in sunshine, sat a group of friends around a table.  Leaning toward one another, they  were focused intently on the conversation that completely absorbed their attention.
They were unaware of the Dark Shadow that lurked at the edge of the wastelands just beyond the grassy knoll on which they sat.  He seemed very interested in the group and was straining to hear what they were talking about.

One person, who seemed to be the leader, said, "Last month when we were together we spoke about how we needed to simplify our lives for the purpose of not giving the enemy room to distract us or take us away from our whole-hearted commitment to our Lord. So, what have you done?"

One person said, "We sold our large home and downsized. Now the financial pressures are so much less and my wife and I are more relaxed and free to help others."
Another said," I sold my motorcycle."   A gasp went up from one or two of the others around the table and one exclaimed,"Your motorcycle?  You love your motorcycle, I thought nothing would ever separate you from it !"
But with a smile he replied,"Yes, you are right. I did love my motorcycle, I loved it too much.  It was too tempting to go on road trips with my motorcycle friends, and I neglected my family.  Now, I  enjoy doing things we can all do together and I have noticed how much my boys' behavior has changed! And my wife is happier, I'm home to do those honey-do things and she no longer worries when I am out racing my motorcycle."
Another said, "I cut up my credit card .. life is so much easier living by the rule, 'If I don't have the cash, I can't afford it'. "
Another said, "I cancelled my club membership ... now I have time to go to the neighborhood bible study with my wife."
The leader smiled, "Very good !"

The Dark Shadow had crept closer to the group around the table, but when he, in anger, reached out to strike one of the people, he scowled and pulled back his arm as though he had hit a solid wall.  One person, glanced up and asked the others, "Did you feel something?"   They looked around, but saw nothing to alarm them. They returned to their conversation.
The leader continued ... "You have done well, in 'stopping the waters' so the enemy will not find ammunition to use against you.  But we must do more."
Eagerly, the group pressed forward ..."And what is that?"
The leader explained,"We must be diligent in our bible study, in prayer, in times of devotional quiet listening for what the Lord would say to us. Also, we must not neglect our meeting together, to strengthen, encourage one another and point one another to that 'tower' to which we can flee and find refuge.  If we stand together we need not fear the darkness nor the enemy that rules it. We stand in the Power of our Lord, and in His Strength we put our trust!  He has given us armor to wear so that we are at all times protected! We need to keep that armor polished and in good repair!"

Thoughtful heads nodded around the table, as they considered the wise words spoken.

The Dark Shadow was pacing, obviously angered, his fists clenched yet he had given up trying to strike them.  Another way - there must be another way !

If the group had been aware of the Dark Shadow, they would have been relieved to see him glide back into the wastelands surrounding them.   But the Dark Shadow was not giving up.

Not long after, an attractive young man approached the table and without greeting them said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. Do you realize how foolish it is to put your trust in something/someone who can't help you, someone you can't even see?   Do you not know how powerful the Dark Shadow is and have you not heard how many have been destroyed  by his hand? "
The young man suddenly changed before them, and with his disguise stripped from him, they recognized him as the Dark Shadow himself.  While their hearts began to pound, and their eyes grew large, they did not waver.  "Ignore him!"  they said to one another.

Furious, the Dark Shadow called in his demons to bring influence to bear in high places, and letters were drafted - letters of intent: threats of a job loss, a difficult medical diagnosis, a called in loan, a false accusation, a relational crisis.
But all these did not cause anyone around the table to waver.

The rage of the Dark Shadow was escalating and he called in his armies to cause the table-group bodily harm.
The group rose from the table, their meeting ended, and they began to walk along the path that led to their individual homes.
The escalating roar of a motor alerted them, and even as they looked left and right to see where the vehicle was coming from,  they were suddenly frozen by fear as they saw a large military -type vehicle coming straight for them!
The leader called out for divine help!
And Divine Intervention was immediately sent .. The hand of an angel turned the vehicle just before it would have struck the group, and it lost control, crashing into a tree and tumbling over the edge of a cliff.  All was silent.
A cheer went up from the group, with words of thanksgiving to the Lord, in whom they trusted - to whom they belonged.
They went forth to be a witness wherever they went in their daily lives, causing the name of their Lord to be exalted and praised.

Hopefully, the above story sounded familiar to you, dear reader, because it is my paraphrase of II Chronicles. 32:1-23 in a more modern setting. While I took literary license, I believe that the Old Testament story is a picture for us today.  Satan cannot harm a believer ... we have a wall around us.  All he can do is deceive us,
 cause us to fear,
 or be confused.
 He is only a Dark Shadow.   If we have strengthened ourselves spiritually, we will recognize him and not be moved by 'his devices'. We will stand strong and unmovable in the Light of our Lord!

Just to show you how applicable this Old Testament story is to the life of a believer, look at the meaning of the names in the story.

King Hezekiah - means Yahweh Strengthens --  Jesus is our King and He strengthens His followers to be strong IN Him !

Lachish - where Hezekiah and his people were gathered.   Lachish means, impregnable or obstinate - What a safe place we have in the kingdom of God.  It is 'impregnable' by the enemy, and we can stand obstinate in not giving in to his shouts or threats.

The Milo -  was a tower or fortress in the city of David.  This reminds me of the verse in Prov. 18:10 that says, "The name of the Lord is a high tower, the righteous run to it and are safe!"  How safe we are when we abide in His Presence!

Sennacherib - means Sin , or Sin-god,  or Sin sends many brothers -- all descriptive of Satan, the god of this world, the god of sin, and the one who pulls others into his darkness.

Hezekiah and his people were of the tribe of Judah. Judah means 'praise' and are we not all called to live in praise and thanksgiving to the One to whom belongs all praise?

Be encouraged, my fellow-believers !  We need not fear the dark forces, nor the prince of darkness .. he is but a Shadow ...  Our Lord had/has victory over him !

"....The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil !" I John 3:8

And because Jesus had victory, we also have victory IN Him !

".....  I have written unto you young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one." I John 3:8


Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

So glad that He is my 'strong tower'! You definitely re-told the OT story in modern day setting. Our God is the same...yesterday, today and forever. We are safe if we abide in Him!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

The image of a vehicle being used to run them down is particularly poignant today after the Nice France massacre. Evil has been unleashed at a time when too much of the world has abandoned God. How utterly vulnerable are the societies and people who chose to reject God.

Thanks for your personal note to me Julie. It is a hard season for me right now. On June 10th we learned my father- in-law had a massive stroke one hour after we learned my dad had gone into stage 4 cancer. FIL died a few days later in hospice in San Digo and my own father entered hospice care here in SLC the day before I had to go be with my husband to attend to his father's passing. God seems both near and far; the results of physical,emotional and mental stresses seep into our lives even as we stay focused on God. Please pray for us. Dad whose dementia means he does not comprehend that his life is short now...at 92 he still tells everyone what good shape he is in and thinks he'll live to 95. It has and continues to be a long good bye that can never be said. My mom at 90 is serene in her faith and God has enabled her to care for Dad with great patience.
Please keep this message private...we are undergoing heartbreak on many fronts on top of our parent's situation. I am relieved to know such trials will resolve in God's timing, either here or in heaven. This is but a season.