Monday, December 29, 2014

Living Into My Calling

Earlier this year I mentioned that during a time of prayer I heard from the Lord, "It is time to live into your calling." Recently someone asked me, "So what does that mean, then? How have you been living into your calling?" These are good questions!

The Ever-Elusive "Call" 

It would be an understatement to say that from a pretty young age I've been more or less obsessed with the idea of "calling," that God has a particular *thing* in mind for me to do while I am here on earth. When I was in high school I read an anthology of Christian writings on "call" which ranged from 100 C.E. to 1967. I wanted to know so badly what specific "good works" God had "prepared in advance" for me to do (Ephesians 2:10), but just couldn't seem to figure it out.

I'm not going to lie; it's been a lot of "hit and miss" and "trial and error" when it comes to discerning my call, though I have been in conversation with God about this for awhile now. At first I thought I was going to be a social worker, but that proved to be far too emotionally intense and overwhelming. Then I thought I might try my hand at public administration and policy-making, but that turned out to be a pretty discouraging venture as well. Rather than discovering the one thing that I loved and felt passionate about, it’s been mostly a lot of closed doors, and realizing that there are many things which I simply cannot handle/do. Yes, this process of elimination may have been helpful for a time, but I definitely wondered to myself, “Am I ever going to find something that actually fits?” All the dead ends and red lights made me question if God had something specific in mind for my life after all, or if I was destined to be on an endless chase for a “call” that I would never fully lay ahold of in my lifetime. 

To me, “call” and vocation have been pretty much the same thing. I believed that my job had to be a fundamental way that I express my faith in the world. So no, a job never was "just" a job; I needed to know how it fit into the bigger picture of God's purposes. Imagine my surprise this year finding out that after all that, my job is actually not exactly as crucial I had thought to gauging how deeply I am involved in what God is doing around me and in my community.

Power≠God's Will/Favor (Necessarily)

I've learned a fair amount of things regarding God's call for my life this year. First of all, God has shown me that call doesn't necessarily have to do with professional achievements and status. God has not seemed to be especially concerned about me going to graduate school, or working my way up in a company. This has been a gigantic load off of my shoulders, because for awhile I was really feeling the pressure to "put my potential [read: intelligence] to good use [read: don't waste it]." I'm done feeling guilty about that.

I've also learned that God's call for me does not necessarily involve undue strain and striving. By this I mean, it seems to me that God is inviting me to begin to move deeper in the (spiritual) gifts that are already deeply ingrained in who I am. I don't have to force things and struggle a bunch, but can play to my strengths. I marvel that it's permissible, nay encouraged, to play to my strengths. "Each one should use whatever gifts he has been given to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10). This has meant moving deeper in the prophetic gift.


I had an inkling that God had gifted me prophetically somehow, but then heard this year that I definitely had a "prophetic anointing," which got me motivated to start digging deeper into what that meant. It was so mysterious to me because it's not like I grew up around people claiming to be prophetic. Actually, it was kind of implied to me that the gift of prophecy doesn't exist anymore (which is not true). What, then,  does it even mean to be prophetic? Here's what I've discovered.

Characteristics of the Prophetic Gift

  1. Deep sensitivity to justice-see and perceive injustice and feel compelled to act. Anger is often a bi-product.
  2. Deep sensitivity to the supernatural (good and evil)-can sense when things are "wrong," gut feelings may usually indicate an ability to discern between spirits.
  3. Knowledge and revelation regarding the will of God-sense God's movements and what he would like to do in situations/individuals' lives. Connection with the mind/heart of God.
  4. Hear from God-via dreams, audible words, visions in prayer, etc. These can be future or present-oriented.
  5. Deliver truthful messages at the right time-may have extemporaneous words to share (from scripture or other revealed things) which speak specifically to what God is doing in a person/community. Often packs a powerful punch; may be received with long reflective silences.
  6. Intercession-many with the prophetic gifting feel acutely the discrepancy between the way things are and the way that God intends things to be, and so may spend a significant amount of time praying for his kingdom to come on earth.
(If any of these are hitting home for you, first of all, I am so excited! Please contact me if you want to explore your giftings further. Meeting prophetically gifted people makes me really, really happy. For further reading I highly suggest Primal Fire by Neil Cole.)

I believe that calling is deeply tied to spiritual gifting, and that as I am moving more in my spiritual gifts, I am also moving into my calling! By moving in my spiritual gifts I mean: praying for others, sharing visions I get with people (WHEN APPROPRIATE), sharing words of encouragement, praying in the Spirit ("Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18). I've got to tell you, it's been really, really good, and I'm only just starting! I make mistakes, of course, and at times find myself out of my depth, but life is making so much more sense now that I am doing what God has created me to do. It's awesome! I am still learning so much. 

Did I answer the question?

Okay, now it's time to tie everything together! This year, "living into my calling" has meant letting go of my own guesses to where the Lord was going to take me, and focusing more on being who he's already made me to be! Does that make sense? I'm not so preoccupied anymore with the specifics of what I do (vocation). I believe that God will bring the right thing for me at the right time, like he did with my current job and new community in Greenwood. When it's time for me to move onto the next thing, he'll let me know and will bring that new job/place before me. I am confident in his provision. Calling, what is it? It's being responsive to God and letting him do his work in me. Everything else will be taken care of.
You're gonna be IMPORTANT and you're gonna do a LOT, but it's not about what you do.
You, you're awesome. You're made that way! You're made from love to be love to SPREAD love!
For now, remember this: You're awake; you're awesome. Live like it.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Rise up; it's time.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while,
'He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.'
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Hebrews 10:32-39

Up until now I haven't felt it was appropriate to write about Ferguson and the subsequent deaths of other black males at the hands of white police officers, because it was much more important to make space for black voices to be heard (some articles here: 1, 2, 3). However, as a person who is not black, I think it's time for me to write to speak to my fellow Christians who are also not black, but wondering what to do. What does it mean to stand "side by side" with our black brothers and sisters as they endure such aggravated trials and tribulation?

Before we begin to build a straw man, talking about whether Michael Brown or other men who have been killed were "innocent," I have to say up front that it's not about that. Michael Brown is dead. Eric Garner is dead. This notwithstanding at the hands of another fellow human being. This is not a time to be discussing the ethics and "necessity" of corporal punishment, and trying to "justify" police officers using physical violence against "criminals." These men are dead, and it's a big fucking deal. I'm not sure how I can emphasize this enough.

A week and a half ago I participated in a march organized by several local black pastors in partnership with the NAACP and Garfield High School. This was one day after the ruling on Darren Wilson (not to indict him for the shooting of Michael Brown). As we headed west along Union, a group of 200 people or so, I was ultra-aware of the fact that when we would chant "Hands up, Don't shoot," for the black males walking alongside me, this was a lived reality. And I started to cry. For these men, being in public, unarmed and vulnerable (literally with their hands raised in surrender) knowing their peers have been gunned down and choked to death by men wearing uniforms very similar to the ones donned by SPD officers 'escorting' and observing us along the way, was quite honestly, eerie.

When we arrived at the U.S. District Court, we stood on and around the steps of the building listening to several speakers from the black community who expressed extreme frustration, anger and at times, despondency. At one point, a pastor assumed the mic, saying, "I just want to first of all thank those of you who are not a part of the black community for showing up today and being a part of this." By this time our group had grown to probably 400 or more people, and I had noticed (with great relief) during the march that yes, there were indeed white hipsters and white older adults and mixed kids and male Latinos and young Asian Americans throughout the crowd. This is good, though I don't think the black community should necessarily have to thank us for being there.

It has been written of the Body of Christ: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26a). What does it mean to stand "side by side with those who were so treated"? Listen. Care. Pray. Show up. 

For it has also been written:
"Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
     the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. 
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
     in secure homes,
          in undisturbed places of rest" (Isaiah 32:16-17).
 May we cry out to God until this is fulfilled on earth for all his people.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remembering Grandpa

"I miss that old guy."
-Grandpa's best friend

Sometimes grief robs me of words. I'm full of sorrow, and yet the ability to articulate that sorrow completely escapes me. It's not a constant sort of despair that I feel, but an intense sadness that will hit me at certain moments causing the tears to flow.

In his last days, Grandpa's only reservation about leaving Earth was his concern for the well-being of the family. "I just want to make sure that you will be okay," he kept repeating with labored breaths from his nursing home bed, as the oxygen machine nearby chugged along. "We're going to be okay, Grandpa," I would reply, even though tears were falling on my face. I held his hand. "Don't worry. We'll be okay."

I know that we all are going to be okay, but in the meantime, it's been tough. My major frustration is not being able to talk to Grandpa anymore. Talking with him was the best. "God, I just want to talk to Grandpa!" is a frequent prayer of late, even though I know praying these words will not magically bring Grandpa back in his bodily form like some sort fairy godmother. And yet, while he was alive, Grandpa was like a fairy godmother to me, always willing to listen and to love. Gosh, I miss him!

Mourning is an ache and a longing for that which I can't have. I just wish that I could simply hear his voice saying, "How's things?" as he was wont to do. I wish that I could correspond with him in letters, even... tie up an envelope to a string hanging from the sky that will be lifted into the heavenly realms for Grandpa to open up and then reply to in his methodical, slightly rightward leaning script. I wish that in my dreams I could go to a cafe that's halfway between heaven and earth, so I can have coffee with Grandpa. Oh, what I would give for just 10 minutes of conversation with him!

God has promised provision for those who grieve: to "bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isaiah 61:3). I eagerly await the fulfillment of these promises in my life as I experience all of the discomfort, ups and downs that come with loss. I know that it's a matter of "fix[ing] [my] eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). In enduring this temporary pain of grief, I look forward to the day when I will be joyfully reunited with my dear Grandpa in heaven, when I can tell him everything and he won't ever go away.

"I want nothing but the best for you," he managed to say on that Friday night at Kline Galland. He needn't have verbalized it because he spoke this over all of us granddaughters with every act of love, service and sacrifice he did while he was with us on earth. I know that Grandpa would have laid down his very life for us (1 John 3:16b) if need be. And in many ways, he did.

Shirt reads: "Lifetime Achievement in Grandfathering"

I miss you, old guy. Can't wait to see you again someday.

Friday, September 26, 2014


I wanted to call you today
And maybe just sit and watch the game.
I wanna tell you about the books I'm reading
And pray with you.
Maybe if I open the door to your room
You'll be there waiting for me.
But all I see is your white leather armchair
And hate that you're not in it anymore.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dumbledore can't live forever.

In July 2005 three of my friends and I camped out on the floor of our local Barnes & Noble for the midnight release of the novel Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. When the clock struck 12:00AM, we got our copies of the book, my mom drove me home, I sat down on the couch, opened the book and did not move from that place until I'd finished it. Thankfully my friends and I were not one of the many disappointed fans who (like us) had waited hours in line in anticipation for The Half-Blood Prince, only to have a mean-spirited spoilsport run by them screaming "Dumbledore dies!" before they'd even gotten their hands on a copy!

I remember that many Harry Potter fans were distraught that Dumbledore did, in fact, die in The Half-Blood Prince, because the headmaster was a loved and respected character, and especially dear to the protagonist, Harry Potter. However, J.K. Rowling issued a statement more or less deeming Dumbledore's death as necessary, because in the absence of his go-to mentors (Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore), Harry would have to learn to stand on his own.

I am currently in the process of losing my own Dumbledore, my grandpa Don. I've had a really special, dear connection to my grandpa since about high school when, seemingly out of the blue, he called me one summer to see if I'd be interested in doing Bible study with him once a week. Together we worked through the book of Matthew using questions he'd copy for me out of his study Bible. At first it was kind of awkward since up until that time me and my grandpa weren't especially "close." Yet I grew to love the one-on-one time with him and treasured hearing his thoughts and reflections on the ways God had been faithful to him in his life.

Grandpa seemed to really "get" me and became my go-to person in the event of crisis. I think because he shared so openly with me about his past pain and anguish, I felt safe telling him about mine. One year I asked my Grandpa to coffee to get his advice about a big decision regarding a romantic relationship. His younger brother, Ty, was visiting from San Mateo, CA, and remarked, "Gee, I wish my grandkids asked me out for coffee!" as we walked out the door.

I'd like to think that I "got" Grandpa pretty well, too. "You're able to put my thoughts into words," he said to me several times, when he would be stumbling to articulate his struggles with faith and doubt. Grandpa liked to grapple with hard questions (Who is Jesus? Are other religions valid? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?). It was fun to talk to him about theological and political issues because he was never one to put-down your ideas or opinions, just dialogue about them so that everyone participating in the conversation might arrive a little closer to the truth by the end of it, including himself.

Grandpa had a brilliant mind. He was very sensitive to others and reached out when he could tell that people were in the midst of great turmoil. I remember that during one of the darkest seasons of my life he called me on the phone. "How are you doing?" he stated simply, and I began to sob because I knew that he really did want to know. He said, "You know, your grandma and I love you very much, and I think God does, too."

Lately Grandpa's mounting health issues have sapped him of his brilliant mind and sensitive heart. He has trouble staying awake, can't carry on a continuous conversation and sometimes says deluded or irrational things. I pray to God wondering how much of Grandpa is still in there, in that frail body.

I can't just sit with him and shoot the breeze about global politics, his past work at Boeing and the great unanswered cosmic questions of our time anymore. It's simply not an option. My grandpa is still alive but a huge part of who he was to me (sage, counselor and guide) has been lost.

How do I move forward when someone so important in my life has vacated that position? How do I pray for someone whose mind is clearly not all there anymore? And where is all of this headed?

Mostly, when I think about my grandpa as he is today I just get pretty sad. My whole family is grieving. I don't presume to claim that I've unlocked all the mysteries of life and death and mourning. I'm right in the thick of it, so I don't have easy answers to vacuum up the pain of losing who my grandpa once was to me.

I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to lose a best friend like this. I'm mostly feeling and praying my way along, trusting God to lead me and comfort me through this season of grief.

Dumbledore can't live forever.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rethinking Utilitarianism

Something's been bugging me about the middle class Christian values taught to me growing up. You see, I was raised to make my life count, to "make a difference in the world." My Sunday school teachers in high school advised that since my classmates and I belonged to the richest 1% in the world, we should use our opportunities and privilege to create justice for the poor (Isaiah 58 was blowing up like no other back then). The gist of their teaching was, "If you're going to be a lawyer, be a lawyer for the marginalized. If you're going to be a doctor, work in public health with the uninsured." The implicit argument was use your influence for good.

That's all fine and dandy. I'm not saying that wanting to live a life of service to others is for dreamers and fools. Yes, if you have a burning passion to reach out to those that society has thrown away and forgotten, I think that's so cool!

My problem is with the Christians that think they know the *best* (subtext: only acceptable) way to engage in social justice. Utilitarian influences are pervasive if not unquestioned in Christian thought--post-modern, middle class, 'progressive,' American, Pacific Northwest Christian thought, especially. This is not good! Let's unpack this a little.

To put it roughly, utilitarianism values getting 'the best bang for your buck.' Jon Stuart Mill, the 'father' of utilitarianism, was interested in the question: How can we maximize happiness (on the societal leval) and minimize unhappiness? It's about creating the greatest total impact of happiness using the limited resources available--optimization and efficiency are key in Mill's take on 'best' social policy.

So what does this have to do with my Sunday school teachers telling me to 'make a difference' with my educational and career choices? Well, kind of everything.

There's no denying that injustice is rampant around us. What's unfair in the world today? Uhhh, a ton of things. That's a big "duh." (See: racism, sexism, class difference, physical/emotional abuse) It's not hard to see what's wrong. And for those already on the social justice bandwagon (I include myself in this!), it's pretty obvious that there's much to be done.

However, it seems to me that progressive American Christianity's answer to social injustice has been get as much worldly power as you can, and exert it to benefit the poor.

"What's wrong with that?" you may ask. "Why shouldn't we help the largest amount of people possible by attaining the largest amount of political/financial power possible?" Again, the implicit statement is I'm going to use my power for good!!!

Let me put it to you this way: would you consider Jesus' actions during his life to be utilitarian in nature? Did Jesus 'work his way up' in Jewish society so that he could 'change the system from within' from a position of power? NO! In fact, he was reviled and rejected by those in power, Jewish and Roman alike. Rather than rise up in the ranks and use political power to effect a cultural change, he preferred to go from village to village with "no place to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20). "[H]e made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). He knew that the political systems of his time were corrupt (e.g. crooked tax collectors, hypocritical Pharisees), but rather than creating a complete institutional overhaul by force (i.e. taking up worldly power/kingship and exerting influence), he was in fact, victimized by the unjust justice system. Does this not blow your mind?!

Utilitarianism posits that top-down reform is (supposedly) the "best" because it affects the largest amount of people, therefore maximizing positive impact.

How does this manifest in the church? Have you ever met someone who's so well-versed in the ways of "correct" social justice that they "pooh-pooh" "handouts" and "band-aid solutions" such as soup kitchens and emergency shelters? A person like that might say, "Oh, meals for the homeless? You know that only addresses symptoms, not the cause, right? True structural change has to come before THAT can be fixed." To the well-meaning believer engaged in charity work, a social justice snob would deem said work utterly inadequate.

I do not mean to be ranting and rude--trust me, I used to be a social justice snob. I applied to get my MPA at UW, for goodness sake! I was convinced that I need to use my power for good.

However, this utilitarian "policy-level-change-or-bust" mentality is severely restricting. More important, though, is to question of how it agrees with or comes against the will of God. What does the Lord think about this?

On a personal level, I have been reflecting deeply and praying about how God desires to use my life to effect justice in the world, to bring his kingdom to earth. And he's been breaking down my utilitarian mindset.

I am "smart." I can talk to other "smart" people and excel in the world of politically powerful, "smart" people (i.e. when I worked for King County). I'm sure I could exert plenty of influence on behalf of the disenfranchised on the policy level if I wanted to go that route.

But the most important question is: Is that what God is calling me to?

In May I received a word from God that due to the immensity of my giftings (i.e. being "smart"), there was a pressure for me to achieve much. The Lord said, "That is not my way for you. I have shoes for you that fit just right." Well, I just started crying when I heard that. What a relief! God was releasing me from the pressure to 'make it big' in the world to 'make the biggest difference possible.' He was releasing me from utilitarian ways of thinking and inviting me into kingdom ways of thinking.

I am convinced that God is aware of social justice in an intimate, nuanced way that only an omniscient God can. I am thus also convinced that he knows exactly how he is going to address it--and more specifically, how he would like us as individual believers to address it.

Let's not confuse the world's ways of dealing with social injustice with God's specific call for us to engage it. One-size-fits-all approaches to social justice work is total malarkey. And for those who buy into and perpetuate the culture of Christian utilitarianism--be careful!

For God has said,
"[M]y thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
May God reveal his ways for you to address social injustice today!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thanks, God!!

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).

A few months ago, I was sobbing due to the enormous pressure I felt from people at my church constantly asking me if I had found a job yet (I hadn't). After church service one Sunday, I went up to ask for prayer and explained my situation. "That pressure is not from God," my uncle assured me. I nodded, mopping up my falling tears.

I begged the Lord for instructions and direction--if I should go back to school or look for a specific kind of job, etc. I was so frustrated when I didn't receive a clear-cut response! "Lord, I will do anything for you," I would pray. "Just give me the word."

It was once said to me, "April, jobs don't just fall out of the sky." I think that may be the world's way of thinking, but for me, it's been a different story. I am a pretty hardcore and literal believer of "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). So basically since I've been back from Mexico I've been spending a lot of time seeking the Lord, keeping my eyes open, and believing in his imminent provision.

I've been so hell-bent on taking the stronghold of fear lately (see my last post) that when out of the blue two friends contacted me with two different job opportunities, I had to laugh. Of course, it was God at work on my behalf. I received an offer to interview for one of the positions, and before going to bed one night I prayed, "Lord, is this job a gift from you that I am to receive?" The answer came strong and clear: "Yes." "Hm," I replied, smiling, "Okay." I prayed. "Okay."

So when I went in for the first interview on Thursday and the second interview on Friday, it was so easy and effortless. When you know God is giving you something and it's already yours, you can live with a lot of boldness, peace and rest. Yesterday when I was offered the job it was such a surreal moment of receiving that which the Lord had already promised to me. It was the icing on the cake. After I hung up the phone, all I could say was, "Thank you, Jesus! Wow."

Jobs really do fall out of the sky.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth  through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created" (James 1:17-18). 

Monday, June 09, 2014

On the war path

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
-John 5:1-6
Whew! What a journey it has been since returning from Mexico in March! In many ways it has felt like wandering in the desert with all of the detours, starts and stops and stumbling along the way. When I came back, I was just so broken, very deeply broken. And all I had was a prophetic word that I'd be "moving in different regions with apostolic teams" and the confirmation from God that "It is time to live into your calling." Other than that, I hadn't a clue what to do! "What does it mean?" I wondered to the Lord.

I won't lie, it was tough showing my face after coming back early from Mexico. What a (perceived) failure! Yikes. I mean, the embarrassment and disgrace I felt having to explain to people again and again that I was 'back-back' and didn't have another job immediately lined up...whew. Truly a cringe-worthy experience. Yet in all of this, God was faithfully moving on my behalf.

The thing about trials is that they expose my need for God. It becomes so clear that I need him BAD. I'm not talking about falling into self-deprecating, self-condemning attitudes of "Oh, I'm worthless" or "Oh, I'm a terrible person." It's so different. It's like, "Man, I am jacked up!!! Jesus, come quickly to help!"

You see, much of my life has been marked by fear. Fear has taken so many different forms in my life, you don't even know. Fear of rejection, fear of physical harm/pain, fear or failure, fear of God's abandonment, fear of God not being real, fear of God's call for me--I mean, talk about a pile-up! I just got used to being in a low-grade fearful state constantly. And there have been significant flare-ups a few times in my life where the fear just presses in and threatens to swallow me whole. It paralyzes me, makes me cry and makes me think, "Okay, wow. This is literally going to end me."

The month leading up to my departure from Mexico was another one of those flare-ups. I was struggling with physical pain in my left knee and it almost did me in. Gosh, I was crying so much!!! I felt awful, just absolutely tormented. I prayed, I read the Bible and just did my best to hold on for dear life.

I struggled with the following thoughts:
  • The future is dreadful.
    • 'God has called you to suffer, to share in the sufferings of Christ, and suffer you will!!'
  • Future suffering will destroy, kill and defeat me.
    • 'You will be overcome by pain and all life will be taken from you.'
  • It is futile to fight against pain and darkness.
    • 'Pain will come back again and again until you are defeated.'
    • 'The assaults will get worse and worse until you're finally completely flattened.'
  • You will go from weakness to weakness and God will leave you to the wolves to be consumed.
    • 'God will allow you to be crushed and will leave you that way.'
    • 'He will give you pain beyond what you can bear.'
  • You will not know healing or life on this earth.
    • 'God will continue to allow you to be stripped and beaten and emptied so that you can share fellowship with Christ, so he can keep you close, but you will not experience relief.'
  • Your experience of pain is a confirmation of God protecting you only partially.
    • 'Would a good God allow you to go through such agony?'
  • God has tricked and manipulated you into following him. He has taken advantage of you.
    • 'You labor in vain. You suffer in vain.'
    • God has promised all these good things for you only to lead you to more suffering and pain.'
  • The cost of following Jesus is not worth the 'rewards,' which you won't receive for years to come anyway.
    • 'Your misery and anguish are way more than what God will give you, either in this life or in the future. And are you even sure you'll receive that which he's promised?'
  • You draw additional pain and persecution upon yourself my following God.
    • 'You make yourself a target.'
  • God is a paternalistic, punishing Father.
    • 'He puts you through trials because 'it's for your own good' so you're going to take it and you're going to be thankful for it.'
  • Is Christ enough?
    • 'You're going to lose everything for his sake. Are you sure you want to do that? What's so great about him that you're willing to give up everything and even be destroyed yourself?'
As you can see, I was just being assaulted and pummeled with lies. Basically put, it was terrible! I was miserable. 

But you know, a couple of weeks ago I was driving in the car and began to feel that familiar sensation of fear rising up within me, along with all the familiar fearful thoughts that cause me to get even more agitated. As I was driving, I began to cry. "Help me, Jesus!" I prayed out loud in between sobs.

He did! After that prayer, something switched in me. Instead of being so sorrowful and scared, I started to get mad. I became fed up with being a victim to fear. I became determined to stand up and fight it. I started on the war path to confront fear.

If Jesus were with me in the car that day and had asked me, "April, do you want to get well?" I would have replied, "Yes, I do, *expletive*! *Expletive*! I will not be satisfied until I am!" 

So that's where I'm at. I am on the war path to confront fear.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
     I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
     they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for the battle;
     you made my adversaries  bow at my feet.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
     and I destroyed my foes.
-Psalm 18:37-39
Did you know that Jesus has given us everything we need to overcome Satan? He says, "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you" (Luke 10:19).

Have you seen the movie Pacific Rim? Mako Mori is a woman marked by one terrible, fearful memory from her childhood. It continues to torment her and threatens her future as a jaeger pilot:
Her partner tries to reason with her. "Mako, this is just a memory. None of this is real." Can you relate to her continued terror at the memory despite others speaking the truth? I can.

But Mako's story doesn't end there. She is called to face the same sort of monsters that held her in fear for years and years. You guys, just watch the clip.

!!!!!!!!!!!! Get it? She uses a sword! "Take the...sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Jesus has given me that sword, and boy am I going to use it!
Today we face the monsters at our door, and bring the fight to them! 
-Marshal Stacker Pentecost, Pacific Rim
Whatever monsters you may be facing, you can overcome them, for you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Know that I, too, am standing with you in the fight.