“Be Careful What You Pray For.” —The Wisdom of God
Few things are more grievous than discovering something you’ve worked on for God ended up advancing Satan’s work instead, at least in the short run. The Apostle Paul reminds us that “God causes all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28), but it sometimes requires strange and painful circumstances before they end up doing so.
Several decades ago, the Holy Spirit said to me out of nowhere, “Dennis, you don’t know yet how to protect what you’re building.” What an encouraging word! Actually, what I said to Him was, “Gee, thanks a lot.” I was neither in prayer nor regularly meditating on God or my work with Him when this “joyous” word came to me. I do wonder how many of you, my readers, have ever had God challenge you on your conscious skill sets of guarding what He is doing with and through you? Every serious disciple of Christ wants to build things and support the growth of others, but have you ever had lessons on building a strong defense and not just a strong offense? I have never heard a message on this other than what I began to share some time after this experience in the early 1990s.
Defense and offense… It might seem strange to apply these terms to your spiritual walk. We usually use this kind of language in the context of sports strategy or military operations. I’m very sure God lives in that reality, though I understand if you think I am a little strange (as both my wife and some critics have occasionally called to my attention). So, here is a challenge to all who would test me on this: Read the Lord’s Prayer over very slowly a number of times looking for the words and requests dealing with offense and defense in our Christian living. Here’s a tip: The more you’re into living and making disciples, the more of this reality you will see.
Following are some concepts highlighting the importance of the awareness of offense and defense that I have seen and tried to assimilate in my journey, and which grew as a result of the Holy Spirit’s “kind words of encouragement” to me:
- Recognizing a need or knowing how to address it is not the same as receiving a word from God to do it. Insight is an asset to the wise and often a trap to the naïve but eager servant.
- When Satan’s forces can’t stop you, they can get behind you and help push you into your “successful” missions for God. This, in football, is called “outrunning your blockers.” I was both a running back in college and an eager type-A believer in the Kingdom. Are you catching my drift?
- Real warfare, depending on your skill sets, can be both offensive and defensive at the same time. Ask the Holy Spirit how this works and for examples in your spiritual life where you have “won” and where you have “lost.”
- Assessing people’s true skill sets and callings is hugely important—almost as important as accurately assessing your own.
- “Agreeing with your vision” is not reason enough to deploy someone who wants to build with you. What has the Holy Spirit shown you, by experience, about what else is needed?
The number of situations we encounter that relate to offense and defense could go on and on, as could the list of supporting Bible verses, but my goal is to provoke, not do the work for you. I suspect some of you are groaning as you look back on lessons learned and how expensive it is to learn this stuff. Selah.
What does this have to do with “dancing with the enemy?” Just this: If what you’re doing really matters, Satan’s players will be interested and ready to either stop you or push you further when you have miscalculated timing and resources. As we show up for work, so to speak, wisdom tells us that the closer we get to God, the more we draw the enemy’s attention. That is a fact. It shouldn’t scare us, rather it should teach us. This game is played on offense and defense; friends may become for you…