If the years in which I struggled with chronic Lyme disease were a challenge, the past two years have been a nightmare, as I have weaned off two sleep medications that sustained me during the seven years that I endured grueling antimicrobial therapy. No bones about it, the withdrawal symptoms from getting off these brain-damaging drugs have been severe enough to throw me off the blog map, as my productivity has taken a nose dive.
Interestingly, at the same time that I have awakened at 4 am and screamed at God from my bed more times than I can count, He has increased my authority and discernment in the spiritual realm, and honored me in my prayers for others' healing. Beneath my dysfunctional brain chemistry, I'm guessing I have more faith and a deeper consecration to my Lord than outward appearances would suggest. I think He has mercy and grace upon me because He knows the intense garbage I've gone through over the past 39 years of life.
Does that encourage anyone? I hope so.
I still have a lot to learn- including how to shut my mouth and curse Satan instead of God when I haven't slept in six nights. Indeed, as a dear friend said to me, "You need to know who your enemy is, Connie, and it's not God". Yup, I know we live in a world of spiritual laws and declaring the enemy's lies isn't the best way to overcome insomnia and despair. Do I ever know that!
Yet I think the demons are packing their bags. I see evidence of this every time I thank God for the people He's put into my life to help me; every time I enjoy a deep, restful night of sleep, and through revelation, witness my body, soul and spirit gaining victory over the lies that have held me captive.
My relationship with God is strong and it's real, if at times contentious. And He's showing me the ever-increasing amount of anointing and power that He's placed within me, and not because I'm a saint, but because the parts of me that aren't fractured and broken really do love Him and want to serve Him.
So despite my stuggles, I sense God urging me to crawl out from under my cold blanket and share again with others my life experiences, because somehow, I know it will speak to others who are enduring similar hardships.
I'm about as strong as they come, but over the past couple of years, I've wanted to give up at times. God eliminated the Lyme disease but the enemy has kept throwing the punches. Yet He who is in me is more powerful than he who is in the world, (1 John 4:4) and stronger than the power of my flesh, so I keep standing. As I do, the favor and power of God come at me in new and more powerful ways, and my heart does a little dance at the blessings He's bestowed upon me. Because I know that while the spiritual hosts of wickedness would like to keep me out of the game, God is greater and in the end it is His will that will prevail in my life.
So with the help of a few warriors that God has placed in my path of late, I'm learning to lose the intimidation over my problems, knowing that God knows the way out of this mess and has something amazing on the other side of it. Glimpses of the amazing are already happening, because, like the Apostle Paul on the island of Patmos, though I am in chains, He is using me to heal others.
I believe that the tears and the joy that I see in others' eyes when I pray for them is just a foretaste of what God has planned for me in the days ahead. And I know that the magnitude of the challenges I have faced are a reflection of the magnitude of the good things that await me on the other side, as I learn to wield the sword He's given me.
Over the years, I have asked God why He doesn't just heal me with an instantaneous miracle, as I've seen Him do so many times with others. The answer is always the same. "I need you to learn to pick up your sword." The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and which releases power for healing and breakthrough.
"But God, it's so heavy! I don't know how to use this thing." I sometimes say.
He tells me that if I'll just pick that sword up, with practice, I will grow stronger and more proficient in its use. As long as I remember to put on the other parts of the armor, as spoken of in Ephesians 6: 10-17:
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I'm tempted at times to blame all the brain damage and resultant insomnia I've suffered on Lyme disease and drugs. Much of it is a result of that. But in the end, the war Christians wage in this world is not against the natural realm or the flesh. It is against spiritual forces of darkness; against Satan, and what at times may appear a simple biological fau paux; the result of living in a polluted world, often becomes a playground for darkness, and is what really binds us. Yet God, in His mercy, sent Jesus Christ, His son, into this world, that we might have power over the evil one, our flesh, and everything else that conspires against the life of God in us.
The Bible states that He has given us "all things that we need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). When God lives within us, no demonic entity has a legal right or ability to reign over us. The more we embrace this and know our identity in Jesus Christ, and who He is for us, the more the powers of darkness flee at His name.
Sometimes, a simple prayer will do the trick. At other times, we need to contend and persevere, continually, for the prize that God has promised us. And as I pick up my sword yet again, I am enabled to press forward, knowing that it is "He who works in me to will and to do all things" (Phil 2:13). It is He who strengthens my arms for battle; He who teaches me to wield the sword and wear the armor; He who will bring me out of the wilderness, and into victory.