Let me begin by saying that, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have had to overcome my own struggles with these three spiritual adversaries and the havoc they can cause in pursuing a contented and prosperous life. It didn't matter that I knew all the Scriptures that told me that Jesus had not given me a spirit of fear, or that the Bible tells us we will endure sorrows and sufferings so that we might follow in the steps of our Savior, overcoming as He did. They did not defeat the thoughts that continued to repeat themselves over and over, keeping me in a state of instability and what the Bible calls "an unsound mind".
It wasn't until I was 40 years old, and spending some time caring for my father after his multiple bypass surgery that I understood the "spiritual mechanics" of my inability to find peace and a deeper measure of faith. As I laid in my bed, I could hear my father moaning in anxiety and worry over his health and the absence of my mother, who had passed away a few years before. At a very minimal level, I began to see where my own fears and worry about the future had originated. I was able to see his pattern throughout my childhood, and into adulthood, of worrying about finances and the unforeseen battles of life. I was just like my dad!
But I also realized that I had accepted Christ as my Savior and Deliverer, while he had not. And I recognized that other members of our family -- aunts, uncles, and cousins -- also struggled with worry and anxiety, brought on by fear. Some were believers, some were not; but I didn't want to be like them! It would be years until I understood the Biblical concept of iniquity. And it was through my pursuit of a more intimate relationship with Jesus that I would hear the voice of my Heavenly Father which changed the course of my life. I can also look back now, and see the narrow path He led me and my husband on; a path He had carefully laid out since the foundations of the world.
Ever since we made the decision, early in our marriage, that my husband would follow the unconventional path of a professional artist, using the talents we acknowledged came from God, Mark never doubted or worried. Even during the years of "paying his dues" and building his career -- the years of wondering if we could pay our monthly bills -- he always [simply and resolutely] trusted God for everything. Me, not so much! I was still struggling with the trifecta of my old adversaries: worry, anxiety, and fear. It wasn't until I found myself in what I call my "seven years in the wilderness", that I submitted to God and asked Him to help me trust Him. These were the years where I found myself isolated on 129 acres, about 90 miles west of San Antonio. Without the distractions of our lives in Austin and Houston, I was faced with lots of time for meditation and contemplation. They were the years when our struggles were the most difficult, and the years my fears were the most prominent, yet they were the years that I made the most forward progress in my faith.
As I said, I had had enough of living in the shadow of the spirit of fear, and I knew my constant worrying had to be getting tiresome to my husband, although he always patiently pointed me towards trusting Jesus. Then one day, I had this profound thought. It wasn't the audible voice of the Lord, but what I had begun to recognize as His thoughts that He revealed to my mind. I heard, "If you will be faithful to Me, I will be faithful to you". Wow! What a promise! Did I have enough faith to trust Him to fulfill that vow? Could I finally let go of my earthly father's voice in my head telling me that I had to work hard to control my finances; that it was all up to me?
I'm not going to tell you that it was easy. There were many times in the ensuing years that the Enemy tried to shake my confidence in Jesus and the Father; times of struggle, wondering where the next art sale would come from to pay the looming bills. And you know what? Every time God delivered on His promise! With each divine testimony He gave me, I was learning to trust Him and not succumb to the doubt and unbelief that the devil so desperately wanted me to pick back up. I was building a history of trust with God! Even to this day, the one who got thrown out of Heaven tries to convince me that I can't trust the One who has so faithfully provided all that I need in this life.
And as I trusted God for my earthly essentials, He showed me that my husband and I could be trusted to receive greater revelations of His sovereignty in the world. And He anointed us with a ministry that has allowed us to share how He overcame our own wounds and insecurities. Because we became yoked together in trusting Him to guide us to the purpose for which we were created, we are able to see the ways that the Enemy disrupts the lives of others and builds obstacles to the discovery of their purposes for His Kingdom here on earth. One of the biggest is that iniquity in family lines that I mentioned was so prominent in my own. And I want to give you a quick synopsis on its effects, so you can break it off yourself and your family.
I want to point out both Exodus 20:5-6 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10. [Whenever God confirms His commandments again, we know this is an important precept that He wants us to get!]. They both read: You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those [generations] who love Me and keep My commandments. It is important that the body of Christ understands this spiritual principle. INIQUITY is when a sin [as in my family's case; worry and not trusting God], moves beyond a one-time occurrence, which can be confessed and repented for, and it ends. When that sin then moves into open rebellion [knowing it's a sin, but it is continued to be practiced], and is still not confessed and repented and stopped -- then it becomes embedded in the actual DNA of the family line.
You can apply any sin to iniquity ... think of families who will say, "we're just a family of alcoholics'. Substitute any sin in that sentence -- adultery, molestation, pornography, pedophilia, lying, greed -- you get the picture. And interestingly enough, it will go three or four generations, until a righteous member of the family declares, "It stops with me"! In my case, I was the third generation, and recognized the sin of worry and stopped it. But I see it in some of my nieces and nephews, the fourth generation, because my siblings are still blinded to the iniquity in our family bloodline. And if it doesn't get stopped, it will continue unimpeded.
So, I want to summarize my testimony and speak my heart ... Don't let "Gloom, Despair, and Agony" become your theme song. Yes, the world is exhibiting lots of reasons to give in to these corresponding spirits of worry, anxiety, and fear. But if nothing else, I hope you heard how I overcame them with the help of the Lord. If, like me, you have become tired of living in a constant state of instability and not trusting the Lord, submit to Him; surrender and tell Him you are ready to be faithful to Him, choosing to believe [even in the midst of your doubt and unbelief] that He will be faithful to you.
Take it from me, you CAN TRUST HIM! Never forget that Jesus tells us, "In Me, you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world". And that word tribulation encompasses all your trials; all your struggles, all the injustices perpetrated against you; anything that you worry about or are tempted by. And you "may" have the peace you long for -- it's up to you. But will you trust Him to be faithful to you? Start building that trust today, as you take the first step in being faithful to Him. It will change your life and set you on the path you are destined for!
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His...