You Have a Rival

Published on 18 August 2023 at 21:39

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -James 4:7

The baby monitors are humming with white noise, and I am postured in a space of decompression and, as much as I hate to admit it, mindless scrolling through social media. However, this night, I reluctantly put my phone to the side table and pick up my book gathering dust, envious of my attention elsewhere. And, might I add, attention placed on things much less vital to my spirit. I'm reading Without Rival by Lisa Bevere. So much wisdom and life-giving biblical truths for a heart hungering for its misplaced identity. However, much of what I had read so far I struggled to relate to, mostly because I've never considered myself to be a rival toward anyone, and I certainly couldn't think of anybody who I considered a rival. I realized this when Bevere defines rival as someone who not simply wants you defeated, but wants you out of the game entirely. First of all, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm imagining someone who wakes up each and day makes decisions based on, "how can I make sure I don't only one up this person, but make sure they never have the will to fight for what they believe in every again".  I know that I have ruffled some feathers with proclaiming my beliefs and love of Christ like I do, but not to THAT extent. I mean, my goodness. 

But then, the Lord. I know it was his still, small voice, because when the thought entered my head, it made sense only in that moment amongst confusion and frustration of not feeling like I was getting much from the point Lisa was making. 

"You have a rival, and his name is Satan."

Floored. Absolutely floored. 

Who is the one being who not only despises God, but who's desire is to completely eradicate all willpower and courage in his children to praise His name? Exactly. You have a rival, and he wants you out of the game completely. He was an Angel of Worship who relinquished his high place and chose to never worship Yahweh ever again. He knows He cannot defeat the Lord of Lords. So, what is the next best thing? Going after his children to ensure none of us ever worship Him again either. For my fellow moms, when someone wants to hurt you, and I mean disgustingly and lowly hurt you, where do they attack? Not you, but your children. We see it in movies, in media, the prevalent momma bear theme. You can come at me with everything you've got, but don't you dare come near my children. Satan does exactly this, who did God send His only son to die for? His children. It only makes sense that this is where the enemy would prowl. 

You have a rival, 

and his name is Satan.

Praise God that we have a father who gives His holy spirit to protect and shield us from these attacks, but it is not without invitation. God promises that His holy spirit will not forsake us and that He will always be with us, undefeatable, helping us fight battles that He has already won. But we have to make the first move. We have to invite Him into our hearts, into our lives, into dark places that we want to keep hidden. Without calling on the holy spirit, we are out of the game. When we live in a state of autopilot, we allow the enemy to take over the controls. 

One of the places I have seen this hard truth unfold in my life is in my marriage. Remember those dark places that I mentioned; the ones we want to keep hidden? Well, even the most Godly, loving marriage is made up of two people. Two broken, human beings. Let the trouble stir. God bless my husband though. The man endures all of me and my unresolved issues that creep into our relationship like a weed. The Lord has done a WORK in me, but it is ongoing, so I would be lying if I said my own bad habits don't interfere in our working together. Ever since becoming a wife and mother, I have struggled with identity loss. The Lord has delivered me to a much brighter and more hopeful place, but every now and then old habits rise up. Most recently, I got into a low place over a period of just a few days. This came from an almost three year old in a seemingly impossible stage, a ten month old who has become like my personal Velcro patch, and a husband who I adore and only want to give my all to. Well, as you can probably guess or have experienced yourself, I cannot give my all to everyone and everything, all the time. I felt like somebody or someone, whether it was my children, my husband, or the housework, was drawing the short straw. This brought me to a place of defeat and despair feeling like I was not the mom and wife my family deserved. Consistent with my pattern of behavior, I draw inward and away from my husband and now he is left to mindlessly wonder what is wrong with his wife and if she is even happy. Communication dwindles, and his wife may as well be in another state when we're sitting together on the couch. I look around and see what is happening around me, and I come to the Lord on my knees in complete desperation. "Please God, breathe life back into me that pours over into my family, into my marriage, because I don't have it in me right now and it's tearing me down to scraps hanging on by a thread". 

When we live in a state of autopilot,

we allow the enemy to take over the controls.

And then, I remember who my rival is. The archangel of worship who exists to snuff out the most miniscule spark of hope in the Lord, and subsequent worship of His goodness. So, I put it into context. My marriage is a direct reflection of Christ's love for the church; an outward act of worship of the Lord and all that He designed. If I am allowing myself to run on autopilot, it only makes sense that the enemy will sneak his way in to disrupt my marriage, God's marriage of his children. Wives, single women, women aspiring to or in the works of establishing a marriage, please take away one thing from this: Satan will remain in a fighting stance against your marriage until death do you part. If you do not fight for your marriage, he will continue his fight without an opponent, and he will prevail. What did this look like? It looked like me humbling myself, sitting my husband down to talk, and apologizing for allowing distance to come between us because of my refusal to communicate what I was struggling with. And you know what happened in that moment? The enemy had no choice but to retreat. If we are not waking up and attacking our marriages, or positions in whatever role you play like warriors storming the gates of hell, then who are we allowing to take over for us in our place? 

We have a rival, and His name is Satan. But you're not just some child of a parent to be used as a pawn in an attack strategy. You are a chosen and called daughter of the Most High King who already defeated these battles for you. All we have to do is team up with Him and fight to our promised victory. 

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