Those wringer washing machines. With some memories, you know precisely where you were and how old you were. With other memories, time wears away precise location and time, while intensifying details At some point in my latter preschool days, I saw either my Mother or an aunt using a wringer washer. She fed a towel into the wringer and, curiously, it emerged from the tiny gap between the two wringer arms not only flat but stiff, so stiff that it stood up like crumpled cardboard when it fell into the catch bucket on the floor. Going through that wringer surely changed that towel!
Developmental discipline? These last few weeks, life felt like going through a wringer washing machine over and over. I got another degree from UTD, the University of Trials and Discipline! I have written about trials, and I know the basic facts:
- Trials are good for us, and
- we have them because of the world, our flesh, the devil, and God’s loving discipline, which can be instructive or corrective.
The wringer experience taught me much about another aspect of God’s loving discipline, developmental discipline. By that I mean when God prunes us so that we may be even more fruitful (John 15:2-6).
I thought I was handling life, by God’s grace, fairly well through the many cycles of trials God and I had walked through since He healed depression and fear. But God used the hardships of the last few weeks to wring out more of self-confidence and to provoke me into growth, like an eagle removes the feathers from the nest to urge the eaglets to move to the edge and learn to fly. What happened? God caused me to become aggressive in spiritual matters.
Aggressive in spiritual matters? By that, I mean to confront and battle against the works of the devil rather than having a defensive attitude. Meditating on God’s Word healed deep-rooted depression and fear, but in that season of healing and maturing I was usually in a defensive posture.
Yes, we are to seek God as our refuge and hide in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 91). However, after God’s season of heart healing, He is calling me to learn to operate consciously, deliberately as the spiritual warrior He made us all to be. From our abiding place under the sheltering Shadow of His wings, we must learn to fight aggressively, to advance and occupy the territory God has promised us as our individual destiny, our own promised land!
Fighting aggressively? By fighting aggressively, I mean:
- to pray and trust God for discernment when I am being attacked (as opposed to when I just need to gird up my loins for things of daily life, like regular exercise, eating and sleeping healthfully, working to regain my good attitude, etc.)
- to confidently declare, out loud, my God-given authority over Satan,
- to bind the works of darkness and loose the things of His kingdom,
- to wield my sword of the Spirit, to fight back by speaking Bible truths that apply to the need of the moment,
- then to go on with the next thing to be done that day, actively praising God, actively meditating on His Word, and keeping my mind fixed on God and good things (Philippians 4:8),
- and when not under attack, which is most of the time, to use the same spiritual weapons to take back stolen territory and to take new territory.
This most recent wringing out experience. While going through this latest wringer experience, I struggled and seemed to sink deeper each day into the mire of negative thoughts and feelings. The day that I, by God’s grace, stood up and fought, I felt nearly as bad as when deeply depressed more than two years earlier. It felt like something pressing down on my mind and on my head physically, from the outside. The burden of oppression had become that heavy. I could not think clearly enough to repeat my verses. Negative thoughts and feelings flooded in and stayed, no matter what I tried. I believe the attack had affected my brain chemistry at that point.
I knew, from much experience with depression, that our own negative thoughts and feelings can cause that feeling of heaviness and utter discouragement, but I also knew that sometimes that feeling comes from an attack of Satan.
Two days earlier and each day since, I had prayed, “Lord, I think this current struggle with negative thoughts and feelings and discouragement and all that old mess involves a chemical imbalance in my brain. I cannot seem to think clearly and I cannot remember to keep thinking on the Word. This is a legitimate real need I cannot fix for myself and I am asking for healing on the authority of the Word and by right of necessity as You say in Lamentations 3:25. I have tried for three days, Lord, and I cannot keep my mind on the Word. I truly need You, Lord. Please help me!”
I awoke that Saturday with heavier than ever depressing thoughts, having slept very late again as I had been doing due to increasing fatigue. Skipping gym several days had caused much stiffness so, after my best, although weak, effort with devotions, I packed my gym bag and walked to the car, carrying my frayed bunch of papers on which I had typed and hand-written my personalized arsenal of Scriptures.
I kept trying to use the Word and to say it out loud. On the way to the car, I repeated out loud, to myself, Lamentations 3:19-23.
(19) O Lord] remember [earnestly] my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wormwood and the gall. (20) My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me. (21) But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
(22) It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.”
Then I said out loud as I drove, praying the Word back to God. “Lord it has truly been hard lately and I do ask You to earnestly think about this. I have been thinking about how hard things are and my soul has been cast down. But this I recall and therefore I have hope and expectation. “It is because of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed. Great and abundant is Your faithfulness.” Then I began repeating those two phrases over and over. “It is because of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed. Great and abundant is Your faithfulness. . . ”
As I kept driving and speaking those two verses out loud, I began thinking about God’s faithfulness. Into my mind popped a verse I had memorized early in this latest discipline process, several days earlier when I could still think a bit clearly.
“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. (Psalm 37:3, AMPC)
Now, as I drove down Interstate 90, I said, out loud, “Lord, Your faithfulness is truly abundant. You are taking care of all my needs so well, just like always. I am being fed and You say truly I shall be fed. I trust that verse, Lord, even though I do not feel like it right now. I am sorry, Lord. ‘I believe. Help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24, NIV)’. And forgive my weaknesses.”
Persisting in speaking the Word and meditating. I walked into the gym carrying my stack of verses in my free hand, checked in, then went to the weight room and put my verses on the edge of the weight rack, resuming my recitation of Lamentations 3:19-26 with verses 24-26. As I stretched, I had to keep looking at the paper, which was frustrating. I had thoroughly memorized the passage weeks ago.
(24) The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore, will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.
(25) The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word].
(26) It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.
I repeated those three verses over and over as I lifted weights for 30 minutes, carrying the stack of papers with me from the free weights to the weight benches to the Precor machines.
A desperate plea. As I finished the last of the weights, I put Psalm 9:10 on top of the stack of weights and read.
And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity]. (AMPC)
Silently, as I walked upstairs to the stationary bicycles, I said “Yes, Lord, I do seek You, and in fact I really require You. Oh, Father! Let me not be presumptuous, but respectfully, I say You have to help because I truly cannot fix this by myself. I know You will help with this because I cannot go on without You healing this, and I cannot do it myself.”
Divine serendipity. Upstairs, as I pedaled, I skimmed through a book I studied during the depression season—“Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life” by Jasmin Lee Cori, MS, LPC). She explained that after trauma, certain circumstances can trigger thoughts and feelings that accompanied the original trauma. When that happens, the person may experience the same thoughts and feelings all over again. When triggered like that into “trauma thinking”, you often feel helpless and hopeless because that is how trauma feels—helpless and hopeless.
I paused my feet a moment and stared straight ahead as truth well up from within. “I had indeed lost hope the last several days, perhaps even before that.” I was shocked.
“No!” I thought immediately and indignantly and loudly. “That is NOT true at all! I do have hope because I know what God has done before, for me and others and everything recorded in the Bible and more! I know God works. Absolutely no situation is too hard for Him. I do have hope! I do trust Him! I do have faith in Him, great faith! The lying, thieving enemy must have blinded my mind and my heart for a while. I do have hope and lots of it!”
All the while, as I finished cycling, and then as I walked out to my car, palpable relief started. The feeling of something heavy on top of my head began to lessen.
“That is why I felt so bad! Isn’t it, Lord? I had lost hope again, just as I lost hope when I was so deeply depressed. Sometime these last few days, I stopped believing I would ever feel right and balanced and normal again. No wonder life had become such a dread and drudgery each day. No wonder I felt so bad and the fatigue was like walking through molasses. Thank You for Your grace in not letting it get any worse.”
As I drove home, I talked to God non-stop, “Oh Father! Forgive me! I did not realize I had been doubting You! You have always, always, always met my needs, all my life so faithfully, just like You provided for the Israelites over and over and over again, in spite of their sin and weaknesses. You have done the same for me. You have poured out so many blessings. You have picked me up so many times after failures and problems and hurts and everything else we’ve been through together.
I admit it still feels impossible for You to once again fix my mind and my feelings because this time it is so messed up. I cannot get the wonderful things You taught me to do before to work this time, but I do trust You! I do have hope in You! I do have confidence in You! You are indeed good and merciful and kind and loving and faithful. . . “
God gives light to fight (Isaiah 30:26). Back at home, I tossed my gym bag in the corner and flopped into the rocker, staring blankly out the window. Then I found myself saying, as I had said a few times in the previous two or so days, only this time with strength: “Satan, I am submitting myself to God, and the Word says if I do that and resist you, that God will restore me after I have suffered a little while (I Peter 5:6-11). Well, I am resisting you and doing my part of this verse so you have to flee! In the name of Jesus, I plead the Blood of the Lamb over my mind and my life. I take authority over you and command you to leave!”
I got up, opened the door, yelled “Leave!” and slammed the door. Then I sat down in the rocker and began telling God every good thing I knew about Him and thanking Him for everything I could think of, over and over, and I prayed in the tongues when my mind snagged and I could not think. Each time I prayed in tongues a few moments, another of God’s innumerable good qualities came to mind.
After a long time, I noticed I felt better. I just sat quietly, silently this time, just telling God thank You and loving Him – and letting Him love me.
IT WAS HARD TO PERSIST! Dear friend, I want you to know that in those moments—as I drove to the gym and kept trying to repeat the Word, and especially right before the fog started to lift after I was home again, it took so much effort to speak the Word out loud and to try and believe. I honestly did not think I could do it. It must have been simply, purely God’s loving grace that enabled me to keep speaking and to think clearly enough to perceive God speaking to my spirit, telling me what to say and do.
For days before that, I had often flopped on the couch, trying to pray, trying to repeat the Word—I had really tried—but my resources had become depleted and I don’t think I made a sincere, all-out effort.
However, that Saturday, I remember deciding when I left for the gym: “I am going to struggle, I am going to fight to believe, one minute at a time, just like when the depression was so bad. I am going to choose to believe, God will help me, He promises . . . ”
The importance of memorizing, meditating, and speaking the Word. This certainly reinforces that I must continue memorizing the Word! It also reminds me it is essential to repeat the Word over and over and over, constantly, hundreds of times, to get the Word memorized and to let it root down deep into your spirit, into the bedrock of your inmost being. When the Word has filtered down into your spirit and subconscious mind, to the root level of what you truly believe, from there God will work. (Romans 12:2, Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:45)
Constant repetition, often over a period of days, is necessary to hide the Word in your heart (Proverbs 119:11). It is also necessary to constantly repeat the Word, for minutes, hours or even days when you are under attack, even though it feels nothing is happening. This constant repetition is one way of obeying God’s command to meditate on His Word from the time we wake up to when we fall asleep (Deuteronomy 6:7) and to think about His Word “day and night” (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2).
Joyce Meyer tells the story of a man who was having a terrible time with his thoughts, though he kept repeating the Word. Just when he considered giving up, God let the man see that every time he spoke the Word, a sword came out of his mouth. And so, he persisted speaking the Word, with renewed faith, until breakthrough came.
The good fruit of all that struggle. About four hours ago, I left for the gym, desperately praying and quoting the Word. Nothing changed externally, not one thing, but now? Now, I feel life is on track again. Inside, I am totally different. Furthermore, I am outlining this blog post even though writing was impossible all last week.
To sum up: Through permitting life to back me into a corner and wring out more of that toxic self-confidence, God has trained me to be more aggressive spiritually,
- To take new ground and regain lost ground,
- To fight back when under attack rather than being passive and retreating,
- To intensify my work in memorizing Scripture in my areas of need and the needs of others,
- To speak the Word out loud more often than before and,
- To pray in tongues more often than before.
I will write more about these things as I study more–and no doubt, spin around on the potter’s wheel some more! (Jeremiah 18)
It has been a week and a half since that wonderfully awful Saturday, when I outlined this blog post. The days have been busy but productive in many ways. I finished this and other pieces of writing, the peace God gave that day has only deepened, and He is solidifying the lessons I learned. I am grateful!
Others are being wrung out, too—for their good! Two friends had similar experiences about the same time, and perhaps you have, too. In the middle of the world’s craziness in this summer of 2021, God is teaching His children about spiritual warfare. I think God is awakening many in the Body of Christ to explosive spiritual growth, which is part of the great awakening He has begun in our nation and our world.
We will see outpourings of His Spirit such as has never been seen before, as God causes “justice to roll on like a river, and righteousness as a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
Are you in step with what God is doing and getting ready to do in America and our world? I encourage you to listen to three short podcasts by Dutch Sheets. They are another confirmation about God urging us toward more spiritual power. Go to www.givehim15.com and see the three podcasts entitled “Releasing the Roar (June 15, 2021) and “Lions, to Your Feet” (June 16, 2021) and “Turn It Up” (June 17, 2021).
Fight for your families and loved ones! Dear friend, I think God is telling us what He told the Israelites through Nehemiah when the former slaves were rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. How we live as believers powerfully affects our family and everyone with whom we come in contact. The more light we shine into the world, the more we help those around us, so:
“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14b, NLT)
And, as the AMPC phrases it:
Do not be afraid of the enemy; [earnestly] remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes. (AMPC) (emphasis added)
Is there any motivation greater? We may, if sore pressed, give up when we are the only ones endangered, but when our loved ones are threatened, as they are now by things we see happening, let us be like “a bear robbed of her cubs” (Proverbs 17:12, NIV).
Let love motivate you! “Many waters cannot quench love; waters cannot sweep it away.” (Song of Solomon 8:7, NIV). We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, (Romans 5:5), and we have God Himself living in us and working in us (John 14:23, I Corinthians 3:16, Philippians 2:13). We have all we need to fight, for ourselves, for all our loved ones, and the world! Beloved, let us stand up and fight! Let us press on to maturity ((Hebrews 6:1-3) so that God may shine more of His light through us into the darkness of this world.
If Jesus lives in us, then, beloved, by and in and through Jesus, we also ARE the light of the world (John 8:12). We have within us, because of God in us, the truth and power and the Word of God that overcomes all darkness (John 1:5). So, I say, with Dutch and Tim Sheets:
- let us release the roar,
- let us stand to our feet, and
- let us turn up the power of God in us!