In the garden of our life, in the garden of your soul…there are enemies. We live with them every day. They take all shapes and forms and unfortunately, we sometimes get so used to them, we forget they’re there.
We all battle things that drain us and diminish our joy, our peace and our higher purposes…things like:
- unnecessary events we go to anyway
- new get-rich ideas we chase
- pressures to perform a certain way that are based on false guilt
- the idea of staying busy all the time
- temptations that hit our hot button
- hidden hatred and anger
- false expectations and
- side attractions that take our eye off what is important.
Some of us, including me, are sometimes attracted to new things that, in the end, seem to always waste valuable time and energy. Others get sidetracked with self doubt that often comes from our enemy – the self doubt can confuse our goals, delay our faith progress and discourage our sharing of God’s goodness. The self doubt makes many of us forget or wonder if God will come through. Our enemy can even use mundane things like an overtaxed schedule to keep us off balance…..think of all the meetings we really could have skipped, friendships we hang on to that are unhealthy or shiny new toys that take our eye off what is important….all these things tend to take away from us….like thieves…they strip our time, our energy, our deep passions and our peace. These enemies of our soul are not friendly nor are they good for us.
These enemies remind me of the perpetually-growing weeds in our backyard that take sunlight, water and nutrients away from the young flowers and growing shrubs.
Many weeds, I’ve noticed, have broad leaves or tend to reach out fast with runners. These weeds are quite effective at slowing the growth of the good plants because they spread out these large leaves and block the sunlight from the plants around them. What enemy tactic is blocking God’s sunlight in your life? It is fun things like TV or sports or is it excessive work? Is is the distraction of an fascinating man or beautiful woman at work? Is it hobbies that take too much time and keep us from what’s most important?
In order for weeds to be effective they have to be near us. Oftentimes our enemies are things that are right next to us and we get so used to them we forgot are there…but over time they slowly zap life from us. Maybe it’s worry, maybe it’s a lingering hatred for someone, perhaps it’s an unwarranted fear, maybe it’s lust or envy or bitterness or an unrestrained desire for money, fame or some untold dark desire.
While it’s not healthy to obsess over our enemy, we must realize and remember that we do, in fact, have an enemy who wants to keep us from God and from good. Like a weed, he wants to kill, steal and destroy. He wants to sit nearby and take the nutrients from the soil we rely on, he wants to block the sunlight we need so badly and he wants to take the water that supports our growth. This is the force of evil, guided by Satan, the prince of darkness. Without awareness of evil and protection from evil, we can get swallowed up pretty fast by harmful, negative destructive things.
In the ancient culture of shepherding, the shepherd would gather the sheep each night and keep them safe by corralling them in a confined area (perhaps where two large rock formations join together) and the shepherd would lay across the opening to the area similar to a door or gate. This would keep the sheep safe as nothing could pass through to get the sheep unless it entered the gate. Jesus said he is the gate. We can find protection from evil and from the thieves of our life as we enter into the true safety offered to us by Christ.
I pray you will seek God’s heart on this matter (as I have) to ask Him what may be blocking His sunlight, what may be taking your water and nourishment. Then, in faith, step away from those things and walk toward God…to the gate of protection and into His care.
John 10: 7-15
(7)Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (8) All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(11) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (12) The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. (13) The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
(14) “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— (15) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.