“Satan dines upon what we withhold from God.” Francis Frangipane
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5
There are moments in our lives when we realize that the cocoons of comfort we’ve woven around ourselves to protect us from the threats we thought were “out there” have become more like death rags, wrapping us up and binding us to the even greater danger that lurks within.
It’s a scary thing to not feel safe within yourself.
To realize that your biggest enemy may just be the person staring back at you in the mirror. And to realize with sickening horror that the infestation that’s been eating away at you your whole life is coming from the one place you can’t escape, your own heart.
As the lyrics of a popular song state, “where do you run to escape from yourself?” (Switchfoot).
This realization started for me not far into my Christian walk. Up until then, I had lived a life of chaos, I didn’t realize it, but the constant drama and activity always around me had become my favorite hiding place, my cocoon. But, once I came to Jesus, the chaos that I had once kept myself cloaked in, did not fit anymore. I was learning to be brave, to risk my first steps outside of the cloud of my own debris that had kept me enveloped my whole life. I knew that to stay in the chaos was to reject the peace that Jesus was offering me, and Heaven knows I needed His peace.
But an odd thing happened once my heart became still enough to catch up to myself, I began to FEEL! And it was terrifying! It was as if all the pent-up anger, fear, guilt, shame, abandonment and insecurity as well as feelings and emotions too strong to ever find words for began to chase after me and wrestle me down into a powerless heap.
There is a story in Genesis 32 that depicts what this season was like better than I can ever describe. It is where Jacob, a man who had been a deceiver and a hider his whole life, is finally called by God (after 20 years) to return home. Only, to return home means that he must face his greatest fear, the confrontation with his brother, Esau, whom he had stolen a birth right from. On the night before Jacob is about to enter the land where he is sure to meet confrontation with his brother, God allows a strange event to happen. I will let the scriptures tell what happens next,
“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24-28
Sometimes God will allow us to catch up with the Truth about ourselves so that we can watch Him wrestle it off us.
For Jacob, it was a one-night wrestling match that had taken 20 years to build up to. My wrestling match has lasted years, and I am only now beginning to really walk in to my identity as one who has striven with God and men and is prevailing. And I would be lying if I said that my old identity didn’t come looking for a “re-match” from time to time.
Now, when those old familiar feelings come back and stare me down in the mirror, threatening to reclaim the territory of my heart, there is only one response I can offer to escape my sure defeat and secure the boundaries of my conquered territory. That is to refer them to God’s TRUTH about me. His identity for me is everlasting and stands. It’s stronger than any of my defenses and it’s the only one that secures life, not only for me, but for those whose life I am in care for.