The Pain Of Denial (Part 1)

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P.S. I will be sharing in parts as it will be too much to share at one time. I was prompted to share my convictions, and hope by sharing this entry in my own spiritual journal, it will bring illumination in a new light.

“If any man will come after me, let him (a) DENY himself, and (b) take up his cross DAILY, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 KJV. 

We all have heard this verse far too many times. If we are honest, we also switch off many times. This has been the mandate of my previous cell at one time till a time it became alive to me– I went through a very difficult transition in my life two years ago when I was impacted with a physical condition, although not life-threatening, that a surgery could not fix and a healing miracle seemed implausible — Dashed dreams. Crushed hope. Wretched self. Menacing fears.

The first few weeks upon receiving the check-up report, I wasn’t able to worship in church– I was incapacitated to sing nor clap along. All in my mind was, “Why??” and “God, where are you?” My ex-G12 cell and my mentor had showered me with inordinate amount of concern, but I wasn’t grateful. I just wanted to be left alone as I justified the rights to my disappointments and lamely to confess my anger with God too. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend the weekly G12 meetings, and I even withdrew myself from the cell. But to my surprise, I couldn’t abandon my open cell that I had to lead every Friday. I still fulfilled my duty, shared the Word, and put on smiles (though I was struggling very badly as if a hypocrite).

Was I wearing a mask with my open cell? No. It was one method that helped me- “Deny myself.”

I couldn’t count the number of times “I didn’t FEEL up to it or FEEL like to”, “I didn’t WANT to…”, “I hate to be forced to…”, “I have the RIGHTS to…” I merely trying to cook up excuses as justified reasons. Till I came to a point that I realised I was actually very self-centered, very consumed with “I, me, myself” and very inwards-looking, focusing on myself only. I put my feelings and emotions before God as how I feel and what I want is more important than Him. It was a constant battle to deny, deny, deny, deny myself in the pit. It was even a scarier experience when I was enshrouded with darkness, alone, and found myself drifting away spiritually over six months. I was aware of such a downwards spiral, but I refused to yield as I was wrestling with God like Jacob. What really jolted me was- I began to lose myself while threading on a very thin tightrope, and any moment longer, I think I had tipped to the other side. That was unthinkably scary.

So how did I climb out of the pit, and back to the Cross? I have to simply keep denying myself daily, yes, EVERY DAY- deny my mood for the day, deny my emotions, deny my rights, deny my will, even to denying my convenience (my own time, my own pace, my own freedom…), and surrender to the Cross.

If we are honest with ourselves, it is by NATURE we follow what our flesh leads us. It is unnatural for us to contradict our flesh and that takes SUPERNATURAL intervention with the help of the Spirit. Aside to taking action to deny the self, we can draw reinforced strength from these verses:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. – Galatians 5:16-17

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:7-8

There is no change in my physical condition, but I had stopped asking all the whys because there will never be any answer- and who am I to question the Sovereignty? It was a decision whether to continue rotting by being my own god or to let go of all and let God be God. And letting go doesn’t mean to remain status quo. Just like bible says, “Faith without action is dead”, so I had to force myself since it is unnaturally of me to crucify my flesh to weaken its desires. It is simply to put to action in denying myself.

No doubt it is an uphill task because our flesh gets stronger when our Spirit is quenched by sins. It is a humbling experience to call upon God for help in this area.

So first thing first, get right with God. Face it honestly- Overcome it with God far easier and better than letting what consumed you and lose yourself.

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Under Siege

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Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

I ever wondered, since God has given us His divine authority over everything with His keys of the kingdom of Heaven, that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loose in Heaven, reinforced with all His promises of providence, deliverance and victory, why do we still struggle or wrestle with defeat from time to time, or we have yet to experience a breakthrough?

I observed that there are four areas which we may be under siege:

  1. We fell prey to the Devil’s schemes. 

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. – John 10:10A NLT

Satan is a master strategist, having live thousands of years, he has been honing his skills- he has the dexterity to steal our peace and joy; kills our hope and destroy our faith in God. Before we know it, we have been ensnared by his deceit. We can never outsmart him with our finite wisdom, we will need the living power of God’s Truths to combat his lies and send his demons helter-skelter. If we are not well-guarded in our heart and mind, we will fall prey easily to the devil’s schemes.

  1. We get entangled in our own sins that we are immobilised

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. – Colossians 2:13A MSG

When we are caught up in our sins, our spiritual antenna is not sensitive, which result in a loss of spiritual discernment, where we can no longer discern the Voice of God. Our mind will also be darkened and our understanding about God will be dimmed, we will then be easily susceptible to distortion of truth and deception from the devil. And once we give the devil a foothold in any area of our lives, we will be incapacitated under his yoke of slavery.

  1. We have not been training for war.

May the Lord, my rock, be praised, who trains my hands for battle and my fingers for warfare. – Psalm 144:1

All athletes competing in any race have to undergo strict training almost daily. We will lag behind if we rest on our laurels any time. The devil is always hungry, ready to pounce on his victims and devour them (1 Peter 5:8) without mercy. So without training, we will be feeble;  and without regular training, we will not be as effective.

  1. We have not been putting on the full Armour of God properly for 24/7, 365 days.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:11-12

The Armour of God (read Ephesians 6:10-20 to understand what consists in the full suit) is actually indestructible, but we can be susceptible to attacks if we do not arm ourselves properly. As read in Ephesians 6:11, we are exhorted to put on the full suit of the Armour of God where each part protects us in different aspect. In other word, we cannot pick and choose which we would like to put on, since if any part of the Armour is missing, then we will be guaranteed to attacks easily. Consider that when an army goes to war, the soldiers cannot afford to be flippant about putting on the full set of proper gears, for we do not know how the enemy strategises to attack. The soldiers even sleep with their gears on 24/7. How much more the battle with Satan and his demons which require spiritual weapons to fight against them, any time any day.

We can be sure that Satan knows our weaknesses, and what cause us to crumble easily, in the area which we have exposed to him. Therefore, we need to take a proactive stand, having done our part, and standing firm on our faith, we can then command Satan to get lost, and the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20A)

Courtesy photo (P1040340: Stone Garden) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.