It’s not my first battle. Not your first, either. We’ve stood, you and me, in all-out spiritual battlefields and seen the power of life over death. My eyes have seen dead daughters walking and your ears have heard dead men singing praise to the One who raised them. We have raised victory cries and we have walked through the Arches of Triumph with death shackled and shame-faced behind us.
But it’s a different kind of battle today.
We’ve heard the deafening roar of death, but this battle is full of a thousand roars and a thousand groans and a thousand whirling whispers. The sound is less deafening than disorientating, and we’re fighting a strange kind of ‘ebbing’, a weakening, a bleeding-out, and I'm not sure I know how to go on.
It’s the wave after wave of bad reports and each time I remember to catch my breath I am reminded of the dangers of ‘washing-machine’ currents that trap swimmers in rivers… and then I’m pulled down underwater again. There is so much noise and so much confusion and so little clarity and stability. I’m not sure what to take a swing at, and settle for survival as life churns me around and around.
In this muddled state of muddied confusion, barbed lies are not easily detected as they worry their way deep into the mind.
Do you feel a little hopeless? You are not alone.
Forgotten which way’s up? You are not alone.
Wondering if it’s worth it? You are not alone.
The enemy’s plan is to isolate and separate and then drip feed lies mixed up with truth. You’re taking in dirty water with each breath, and I know you’re tired because I’ve been tired, too, but the washing-machine current's not going to swallow you today. No, not today. Take my hand, cause I’ve found the surface, and there is hope in this muddy madness.
You don’t even have to look, but I’m telling you that the enemy behind you that you think has wrapped himself around you is a Legless Liar. That’s right. He’s lost his arms and legs and his only power is in his big mouth and he’s loving the whirling whispers that make it hard to recognise his poison. Kick out, hard, and leave the lies behind. The isolation and separation that have spread through the church like the Real Pandemic are giving the Lies an illusion of power.
Lean in, come close, and take my hand, because the Light is this way. It’s finding your friends and your way back into community. The tunnel that leads to the Light looks like individuals leaning into families for relationships, and families pressing into groups for accountability and life, and small groups coming back to local churches for equipping and encouraging and gospel-effectiveness. (Oh yes, that’s why we do it!) It looks like local churches joining hands across multiple contexts, giving courage and sharing gifts with each other. Yes, this is the Life of the Church world-wide, and this is how we win our battles.
'Cause there’s life in me, and it ignites life in you, and, when we come together, the Life in us is One Spirit and it has the power to overcome lies and break down walls and strengthen bones until dead men are walking again. The Legless Liar doesn’t win today, no, not on my watch, and not on your life. Come closer.