“I AM first.
I AM. I go before you–ahead of you. Wherever you go, I AM already there. I AM in the darkest of places ready to hold you and carry you through to the light. I AM before you, behind you, above you, and below you. I lead you, protect you, shelter you, and hold you up. You don’t have to beckon me to appear in the dark of night. I AM already with you.
Satan knows how to get to me. When he does it, he hits hard. Really hard. It always follows the same pattern. I will be working harder than normal, giving it my all, more tired than normal, more stressed than normal, juggling work, home, church obligations, finances, unexpected trials, and—- Discouraging whispers turn into booming shouts reminding me of how inadequate, fat, ugly, stupid, incapable, and annoying I am. I’ve always really struggled with self-confidence, so that one is easy for him. But if that weren’t enough, he starts to tell me that because I am so inadequate and stupid, that I’m worthless. “God can’t use you. You are a failure. You made too many mistakes in college–just look at all of the un-Christian things you did. You are an impostor. Look at how stupid you are. You can’t do anything right. Don’t even try to call someone to talk with, because they don’t care. They don’t want to be bothered with you, and neither does God. God forgives other people, and maybe He forgave you, but He is going to punish you forever. Why do you think you don’t have children yet? Why do you think things are like they are? It’s your fault, you worthless piece of trash.”
I used to be better at reaching out. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made a conscious effort to not talk about what bothers me deep down. Any time I do open up, I feel incredibly guilty after I’ve done it. Now, truthfully, I needed to learn to hold it in better. I was a typical artsy, sensitive girl who lived life on the Texas Giant of emotional roller coasters, and let the whole world know it. That was a little much. I mean…yikes. God calls us to have self-control, and I needed some emotional self control, but I think sometimes, Satan grabs a hold of our efforts and tries to make us go too far–so far that we don’t reach out to a sister in Christ. Or even to our husbands. That we internalize and spiral down so far that we are drowning so quickly we almost can’t reach up.
I’m treading in deep stuff, I know. But I don’t think I’m the only one who experiences Satan trying to keep us from what God has planned for us. Maybe if we talked about our struggles like this sometimes, so many young people wouldn’t be convinced to take their own lives. The last few weeks have been some of the hardest of my adult life. I won’t go into it here, but trust me, they have been really hard. Partly because of things that have happened and things I had to deal with, but also because in the midst of it, Satan was playing dirty with me, and I didn’t fight back at first.
I know spiritual warfare is real. It is very real. I also know that God was fighting for me the entire time I wasn’t fighting for myself. When I finally cried out, God spoke. He spoke those words I quoted at the top of the page, right there in the cab of my husband’s truck, in the dark, as I was driving to pick him up from work. “I AM…” Sometimes He speaks in quiet whispers and feelings, but this time, it was like He spoke with a bold, loving, booming voice that covered me with its power and love. God always IS. He was, and he will be, but He IS. Right now, with me, with you, and He goes before us in every situation we pass through. I envisioned this picture of me having to walk into the dark, knowing I had to, but seeing God standing before me, holding out His hand, beckoning me to take hold.
I think a lot of times, we look at dark situations as a place where we are all alone, trying to fend off Satan by ourselves until we call out to God to swoop us up out of them. I was reminded that we are not alone, and rarely are we swooped out of difficult situations, but that God goes before us into every tunnel. He will lead the way and hold us up, if we will only take His hand. We have to be the ones to accept the Hand, and we have to be the ones to keep hold of the Hand.
” 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39