5But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes,he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18So they were saying, “What does he mean by‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech.The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”29His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:5-33
Have you ever noticed that the closer you draw to Jesus, the harder you pursue him, the greater the Resistance you hit?
I’m not talking about mild pushback. I’m not talking about feeling torn between spending time with Jesus versus doing the dishes or folding the laundry.
I’m talking about true Resistance. I’m talking about straight out, no-hold-barred spiritual warfare. The kind of Resistance that only the Enemy is capable of bringing against a follower of Jesus. The kind of struggle that wears you down. The kind of battle that brings you to your knees. To prayer.
That is where I am right now.
Since starting this journey with Jesus, since following Jesus to Jerusalem this Lent, I have noticed that some days feel like walking under water. Some days require incredible effort to defeat the Enemy’s efforts to derail me, to drive me into the darkness of doubt or despair.
And, honestly, sometimes I not only falter, I fall. I fall for his lies. I fall into his traps. I fall into the despair to which he lures me. I not only give him a foothold, I throw open the door. Without realizing it, I give him carte blanche to trip me up, one angry thought, one angry word at a time.
It was the anger, the angry words, that finally woke me up to the battle today. Anger bubbles and boils beneath the surface. Too close to the surface. It caused me finally to pause. To ask my husband, what is going on with me?
Without missing a beat, he replied, It’s spiritual.
And as I stared at him blankly, not because I didn’t believe him or think that this was a real possibility, but because I hadn’t considered it, he continued with conviction, It means we need a whole lot more prayer.
It’s one of the biggest weapons we have against the Enemy.
And during this journey with him, Jesus has reminded me of this. Often. In fact, he has told his disciples, he has told Peter, he has told me, that because of the threat of the Enemy, he prays for his followers. He intercedes for us. He intercedes for me.
But more importantly, Jesus tells us again and again, Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
I remember when I first encountered those words. I thought, really? Anything I ask in Jesus’ name, God will give to me? Granted, I was much younger. Less wise. But it was enticing to say the least.
I’ve grown a lot since then. I realize that God is not a genie standing by to grant my wishes. But he is a refuge and a mighty fortress. And he is the one who does battle on my behalf. If I ask.
If I ask.
If I come to him and ask him to fight this battle for me, in Jesus’ name.
The Enemy is wily. But God is mighty.
The Enemy is a liar. But God is truth.
The Enemy is desperate. But God is divine. He is all-knowing and ever-present and all-powerful.
And sometimes, I forget that these characteristics apply only to him. Only to God. Only to the great I Am. Sometimes, I forget that the Enemy does not know my heart. He does not know my mind. He does not know my purpose in this world. Yes, he knows my mistakes and my tendencies. And he will use those to his gain. But no matter what the Enemy can do, he is not God. He is not equal to God.
He is not equal to God.
In fact, he has been defeated by God. He has been beaten by Jesus.
And I can defeat him. Through prayer. In Christ. With God.
That is why today I paused. And I prayed.
Intimate, pleading prayers. Asking Jesus to be my refuge and to fight this battle for me.
Contrite, confessional prayers. Admitting to Jesus that I have lost sight of him in my day-to-day. That I’ve gotten too comfortable.
Desperate, heart-felt, intentional prayers. Seeking God’s power and asking God’s protection.
Is this skirmish over?
Even so, I continue this journey with Jesus. I follow him to Jerusalem and I heed his words. I absorb them. I apply them. Especially the ones that repeatedly remind me that whatever I ask of God in Jesus’ name, I will receive.
And so I pray. And I ask. And I pray some more.
And in the name of Jesus, the mighty, powerful, victorious name of Jesus, I bid the Enemy go. To leave me. To go back from whence he came. I pray.
And I walk with Jesus.
I follow him through the streets of Jerusalem.
I listen to his words.
And I refuse to let the Enemy to insert himself in between me and Jesus.
Instead, I take heart.
I take heart and know that Jesus has overcome this world.
And I know that I am his.
And so I take my heart and I give it to Jesus. I let him defend it. I let him protect it.
Because I am his.