Can we talk about intimidation?
The night armed thieves broke into our carport and used kitchen knives to pull out the electrics, we lost $2500 of electrics and gained the most expensive kitchen knife we have ever owned. Another undesired gain was the harassing fear of going to the bathroom at night and being out after dark, after confronting those men who thankfully did leave promptly, heads hung low, when I politely asked them to ‘leave, please!’. That fear overshadowed me until I left Peru after 4.5 years of an unused passport to visit Australia for my sister’s wedding. Staying in a relatively safe suburb of Sydney, I unconsciously stopped being on edge all the time in the streets and at night. When I landed back in Peru it dawned on me after a few days that a change of spiritual atmosphere, living without fear for two weeks, had totally shifted my mindset. I realized that my fear was nothing to do with the neighbourhood I lived in, but the spirit I was living under. Although I am still cautious, from that time on I was no longer paralysed by fear walking in the streets, taking taxis or living in Lima.
In September we will have lived in Peru for 10 years. A whole decade and most of my adult life. Frontline missionary life is a rollercoaster life of resistance and breakthrough. Battle and beauty. From financial struggles, relational difficulties, miscarriages, loss, trauma and discouragement we have seen the seeds of death and disappointment blossom into glorious golden harvests time after time. There is always a harvest, but sometimes the battle to get there seems overwhelming. In the midst of it, when I listen to fear, I wonder if it is really worth it. Sometimes I am afraid to dream because I don’t want to have to go through the battle to get there - comfort cries out: ‘take the easy route - settle for less!’.
Those fears were exposed this week in a dream I had where house after house in our neighbourhood (in the dream) was overtaken by a van-load of raiding terrorist thieves. In the dream the police were powerless - they would arrive afterwards to access the damage and to write up reports, but they did nothing to prevent further attacks and seemed unable (or unwilling for fear?) to try and catch the thieves who were too intimidating. In the dream I was with a group of discouraged, weary and anxious people, all resigned to their fate that sooner or later, their house would be the next one to be raided and ransacked. I told them that the police were of no help - the only thing we could do was pray and shift the spiritual atmosphere - it was the only thing that would make a difference. But I, too, felt totally powerless against the ‘inevitable’ raids. I was on high alert and waiting hopelessly, praying that something would be done, but not feeling filled with faith.
When I woke up and thought through the dream it reminded me of the story of Gideon and the Midianite raiders on Israel. Year after year for seven years, Israel lived in fear as their livestock and harvests were continually raided and stolen. They had to flee and live in caves and dens to hide from the Midianites. Gideon had taken to crushing wheat in a winepress to hide the little harvest they did have from the enemy. It was there that the angel of the Lord met with him and told him that he would lead Israel to victory against the enemy. Israel had lived under these big bullies for long enough and when they cried out to God, He chose the weakest, least-likely man to be in charge of the resistance, an army whittled down from 32,000 to 300. That is less than 1% of the puny Israelite army left against an army of over 120,000! That would be 1 of Gideon’s army against more than 400 of the Midianite army! Humanly speaking their victory was impossible and futile! But Gideon refused to let himself be intimidated by the enemy’s army and trusted God would do what He said He would do. The enemy army turned against itself and 120,000 were killed that day. Israel is delivered from years of oppression and intimidation!
For too long I have owned fear. I have felt it and presumed it was mine. I have allowed it to dictate and influence how I step into my calling or step towards my dreams. I have welcomed it into my home, made it a cup of tea and entertained it, listening quietly and closely to its sly, bullying tactics and its undermining of the dreams God has given me, and not even recognized what it was trying to do. I don’t think I ever realized that I was being intimidated.
Last night I was reading Michal Ann Goll’s testimony of overcoming intimidation in God Encounters Today and I began thinking intimidation was not something I struggled with personally. I’m sure the Holy Spirit snorted loudly before revealing to me that it was actually one of the greatest things holding me back from stepping into the dreams God has given me!
You see, every time God gives me a big dream, I believe Him that it is possible, but I want to get into that river and swim without making the slightest ripple in the water. I want to slip in ever so slowly and quietly that I won’t be noticed and then the enemy will perhaps leave me alone. I will be faithful and persistent, yes, but bold and unabashed, no. I will settle for a reduced harvest ground into flour in a winepress, hidden in a cave rather than dance and shout at harvest time. Nothing that might call attention to the enemy and invite him to come and carry off that harvest.
Which of course is ridiculous because the enemy sees our faith and sees our faithfulness and trembles at our progress. He is happy to intimidate us and fool us into thinking that keeping quiet about what God is doing is wise, and declaring in faith and beginning to build an ark is hopelessly stupid when no one has even heard of rain in these parts let alone a lake big enough for that wooden frame.
Which of course is ridiculous because I am putting way more trust in the enemy’s power to plunder than the Lord’s desire and dynamite to deliver.
So now intimidation has been exposed, I don’t want to be held back by it and it’s right-hand man fear anymore. I want to walk audaciously and unashamed towards my destiny because I believe that My God is greater. Not just a little bit greater, but infinitely, humungously greater - like a microwave oven vs. all the electricity in the universe. Jim Carrey says: ‘Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much’ and I want to decide right now that ‘that much’ is not much at all.
I don’t want to settle for a minute harvest hidden in the hills when God has called me to a heavenly harvest of an abundance of spiritual children - thousands of them.
So when fear and intimidation come knocking and offer me a kitchen knife in return for what is rightfully mine because God has given it to me, I am going to learn to say, with God’s help: ‘No way, José. Get out now. And never come back!’
Thank you for taking the time to read this post today. If you are a regular reader you may be suddenly realizing I haven't posted for a while! Life has been busy with ministry and travelling, hard with loss and grief and on top of that writers' block stuck in for a while... I have also been working on some offline projects (like a book!). I don't know how regularly I will be posting on here in the next few months, but I do plan on getting some posts up. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook- what would you like to hear more about? I'm open to some fresh ideas! Also, if you are new around here, welcome!