Monday, November 6, 2017

Giants in the Valley

"You come against me with sword and spear... I come
against you in the name of the Lord, God Almighty..."
(I Samuel 17:45)
Giants have been favorite characters of mine for most of my life!  From the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk read as a child; to the true account of David and Goliath heard often in sermons, Sunday school and Bible study.

Never once however, did I think that I would encounter giants in my own life. Or find them lurking in the shadows of my bedroom! Especially at this late date!

 Recently, as I prepared to retire for the night, out of nowhere they appeared.  A flash from my young adult past! A past that has taken me years to recover from.  I was caught completely off guard, which was exactly the Enemy's intent.  For a few hours I revisited that dark, miserable place.  Surprised at the tremendous power it still held over me!

Decades ago before I learned to walk confidently in the righteousness of Christ, my life was filled with foolishness and regrettable decisions. By the grace of God I learned from them and was able to survive it all so it was natural for me to ask my giants: Why now after all these years are you showing up?   You see it was the Giant of Guilt and its twin Shame trying to haunt me and steal my joy!  Why?  Because the Evil One never gives up, even on an older Saint.  He has to try to win a few more battles even if he can't win the war! 

As a Christian, I know this will not be my last encounter with Spiritual Giants. They will show up again, and again and usually when I'm most vulnerable.  During those times when in self-pity, I saunter into the valley of depression, discontentment, or despondency.  Praise the Lord, I now know a God Who does His best work in the Valley!

All I need to do is remind myself of the life of David. In the Valley of Elah where he slew Goliath, a human giant, I Samuel 17:1-4  and went on to defeat the Giant of Fear, Psalm 23:4 ; the Giants of Guilt and Shame, my old foes, Psalm 51:1-3, and the Giant of Apathy concerning his family woes, 2 Samuel 13.

The Prophet Ezekiel knew about giants as well.  In Ezekiel 37, God gave him a vision of  Dry Bones in a valley.  These bones symbolized God's people at a spiritual low.  Dead and lifeless, desperate for a purpose; scattered from their homeland.  Everything they knew and loved had been taken from them.  They faced the Giant of Hopelessness.  There seemed to be no solution for their current situation. 

BUT GOD never left them.  Just as He will never leave us in our valleys!  We will stay there as long as He deems necessary for us to feel His presence but we do not have to linger there. Although our Enemy comes with powerful weapons, David in the Valley of ELAH said, we come in the name of the Lord, God Almighty (I Samuel 17:45).  Perhaps these strategies may prove helpful when your Giant shows up!

1.  Refuse to Engage! Even though taunted, teased, and tempted by those who continue to bring up your past, don't defend yourself. Don't try to justify or explain your actions.  It is Satan's pleasure to accuse Christians (Rev. 12:10).  It is God's pleasure to forgive! (I John 1:9)

2.   If Forced into Battle Confront Giants with God's Word! Jesus used this strategy in the gospels and it is a sure fire way to turn the Devil on his heels. (Matthew 4:1-11).  If you've never done so start memorizing scriptures that you can recall and draw from at a moment's notice. (Ps. 119:11)

3.  Refuse to Dwell in the Past! For every painful thought replace with God's promise (Isaiah 43:18; 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8).

4.  Embrace Your New Identity! You are no longer that person in your past. You have a new ID with a new name and a passport bound for heaven! While here on earth you have Spiritual Immunity against sins committed in your past and they cannot be held against you.  (Romans 8:1, 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:13)

5. Choose Not to Remember Your Past! This is different than simply forgetting. (Although perhaps psychologically one can forget past trauma at some level.) This is taking a cue from our omniscient Father when He chooses to forget our sins (Psalm 103:12). In His dealings with us our past never enters the picture. We must learn to do the same thing - See ourselves as God sees us!  

When Your Giants Show Up Lead them to the Shores
of Forgetfulness and then Wait for God to Show up!
 (Micah 7:19)


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