Don't Throw in the Towel

Satan would have had me throw in the towel. I needed spiritual therapy, possibly CPR.

My spirit was sprained, almost broken. I felt injured, offended, rejected. My worship lost its power, my prayers were weak, and my faith was faltering. The hope I inhaled was hot and instead of praising God, I choked on my words.

On the day of Pentecost I stood upward when I should have been on the ground; I spoke sharp when I should have babbled joyfully. I was stone cold when I should have been drenched in tears of Living Water. Why couldn’t I hear the voice of God? Where was the Holy Spirit when I needed Him? Was I so far out in the wilderness He couldn’t find me? The devil would have liked me to think so.

Satan hissed, “You don’t belong. Go back behind your nice quiet walls. You don’t fit in here.”

That was where I was in the spiritual realm, and in the physical world it was how I felt this week when I had to go back to physical therapy. Satan had his grip on me there, too.

Have you been in a battle on uneven ground so low the darkness pressed hard and you could only hear the cackling voices of the enemy on all sides?

Sometimes we forget where the real battle is being fought.

“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 had once been agile, mobile, and energetic, and had not needed therapy to keep fit or to keep up. All body parts worked well as I reveled in my ability to run, jump, and dance while I preached the mantra of fitness, “No pain, no gain!” I thought I was invincible.

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, Satan sneered at the cruel joke. My body caved in, my faith faltered. What had been strong got weak, what could stretch became brittle, what had moved so easily broke down, and what kept me fit hurt. It was all pain. I often got mad at God. He loved me through it, nevertheless. I felt war-weary with life, but my battle was being fought in heaven.

Satan had a hey day with me in physical therapy. At one time or another I scooted around in a wheelchair, wore therapeutic boots, and had my fingers splayed in splints. Meanwhile, Satan cunningly used pride and self-pity as very effective weapons.

Most Physical Therapists have bodies that advertise “I read life’s Warning Signs – what about you?’’ and are extremely knowledgeable about how well the properly working anatomy is suppose to function. Their job is to teach the malfunctioning bones, joints, and tissues to work again as well as possible, not to mend broken hearts or feelings that got hurt.

I wanted to be strong again; the Physical Therapists wanted to help me manage with weakness. Satan wanted me to give up. But God knew the truth. I was made perfect in His image – perhaps not whole, but holy. Physically and spiritually, I am His Beloved. He would never leave me out in the wilderness.

God reminded me of this during one of those dull, repetitive PT sessions when the exercises are mildly aggravating and excruciatingly boring. A retired doctor, who had treated me for several years after I had been diagnosed with RA, showed up in the clinic. We recognized each other and, hoping he would not notice my advanced deformities, I started to pull away. He smiled, disarming me with the warmth of friendship, and we chatted about our families. After a few minutes, he patted my crooked hand and said,  “You know, it was patients like you who made my job as a physician worth it all!” Taking in a deep breath of fresh air, I smiled back.

Just like that, God had defeated Satan’s attack on me. In fact, before I even knew I needed it, He had already won the battle years before by giving me grace when I had been so sick. The doctor’s kind words reminded me that I have always been God’s reflection, never His broken toy or failing superstar.

    The truth of who we are in God is not in how we perform, how our bodies look or function, or how we worship in church. We are here to carry out Christ’s mission to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. We may not be in stellar shape physically or spiritually, do things as well as we once had, or the way other people do, but we are in perfect form this moment for whatever it is that God calls us. When the battles rage in Satan’s garb of strongholds, we always have the weapons to win over them.  Dressed in the full armor of God, our true identity is in Him, and the victory is ours.  The sides chosen, our battle has been won.

Take THAT, Satan.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (II Corinthians 10:4)