I do want to warn you though, this is written to the Church and may not really make much sense if you aren’t a part of it. I’m referring to the capital “C” Church that is in all the world under the name of God’s Son Jesus Christ the Lord. I am being careful to source the Scriptures that I use. Please, please look them up and read them in context. Be like the Bereans from Acts 17:11 (NLT) who “searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” Please private message me if you find anything that does not line up with Scripture, so that I may correct it.
As a little girl my daddy was my absolute hero and that is still true today. I remember back in the 70’s and 80’s, he would talk about how things in the world were going to change. To be honest, I didn’t like the things he said, and they scared me a lot, but I told myself those things were so different they could never actually happen. I was wrong. As history plays it’s self out even today, I still find my jaw dropped to the floor as things happen just the way he said. If I’m honest, it ties my stomach into knots. He would never call himself a prophet and I won’t either, but he has always seen himself as a watchman on the wall as referred to in Ezekiel 33. He has spent a lifetime watching the news and reading the Word and checking sources and reading many different opinions to remain alert to any dangers that may befall his family or anyone who will listen. He takes this very seriously and it has given me comfort to be able to raise my family and focus on them, all the while knowing he will warn me if needed. For a bit now he has had a gravity to his voice as he has said, “There are some things coming, Misty. Things you wouldn’t believe. Things I wasn’t sure I’d ever see in my lifetime, but they are close. These are interesting times. Keep praying.”
About 6ish years ago, I was faced with a decision that caused me much fear and was literally making me want to throw up in worry. As I researched, I found there were two very opposite sides, and both were unwavering. In fact, one side didn’t pull any punches about its utter disdain for the other and there were underlying if not spoken threats against anyone who dared to oppose them. Yet, the opposing side made more sense to me and didn’t rely on emotions but instead quietly stated their experiences and research. If I’ve learned anything from raising 9 children, typically the one yelling the loudest is wrong. Yet, I took the threats underlying or otherwise to heart and was very afraid to not comply. But the experiences, my own included, were impossible to ignore. There was a tug of war going on inside of me and both sides took turns winning. We are in a similar kind of place today but with a different issue.
I prayed and agonized for weeks about what to do in that situation. I begged God to show me His way, but He didn’t seem to be hearing or answering. When I sought the wise counsel of others, I found people I loved and respected deeply on both sides of the issue. There was no middle ground and I felt absolutely vulnerable. No matter what choice I would make there was heavy risk. Finally, one morning I woke up with this phrase going through my mind and it’s one I know you will recognize. “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” Over and over it repeated in my head, until I realized, I had no clue what that even meant. Honestly, I’d heard it my whole life and knew it was in the Bible, but I didn’t even know what the context was, so I looked it up. It came from Matthew 10 and it was not encouraging. In fact, it frightened me even more. The exact verse was 16, which says, (NKJV) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Apparently, God had no intention of bringing comfort only stirring the fires of fear that threatened to consume me. This was of no use. I got up and attended to the housework that is always calling my name, but that phrase just kept playing so loud in my head it was almost audible.
I decided to figure out why serpents were wise or doves were harmless and since they were all in the same thought, I would, also, figure out what it means to be a sheep among wolves, though I pretty much knew the violent end to that picture. I argued with God that he was not bringing peace or comfort and I was a bit angry with him for preying on my fears, but he gently persisted, and I was inclined to continue to research. It is in that research that I found the peace, I was seeking, as God knew would be true. I want to share it with you in hopes of bringing peace and encouragement in the midst of some very scary and uncertain times.
I started with the sheep among wolves to get it over with. What I learned, surprised me. When a flock of sheep are attacked by a pack of wolves, it isn’t the wolves who do the most damage. It is the sheep themselves. In their fear, the sheep will panic and actually trample each other! Though the enemy may kill a few, it is the flock who will destroy themselves by responding irrationally in fear. I don’t have to remind you that Jesus often calls us His sheep. Are we responding in fear and attacking each other? May I suggest that as I watch social media, we are. May I also remind you of Matthew 7:15 (NLT), “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” We must be ever aware of who we are allowing into our flocks or at least who we are listening to.
I wanted to see how a wolf attacks, so against my better judgement I went to YouTube and found a video of a wolf attack on a mother and her two lambs. My heart pounded wildly as my mouse hovered over the play button. I didn’t want to see this, but I had to know in order to prepare. Click. A mother sheep walked down a trail with a lamb on each side. Out of the shadows came a wolf. I wanted to look away, but I was glued. The wolf tried to creep behind her, but she kept her face to him, and her lambs stuck to her side so they moved as one. No matter how the wolf tried to get behind her she moved with her lambs to keep him directly in front of her. He tried to charge her, and she charged right back. He backed off but came back. She was alert and ready. He charged and she charged right back. He tried to slink around her, but she didn’t take her eyes off him for a second. The wolf ran away with his tail between his legs and it was then that I felt the hot tears streaming down my face. She won! That helpless lamb chased the vicious wolf away from her lambs! For the first time in a long time, I felt a surge of empowerment rush through my soul.
How did she do it? She kept her eyes on the enemy and she didn’t let him sneak behind. She didn’t charge him unless he charged but then she didn’t back down. She didn’t panic and run leaving her lambs to be dinner. She didn’t trample them in fear. They stayed close. They moved as one and they won!
Dear Church, we must stick together and there is only one way to do that. It isn’t by listening to the media whether it be social media or paid professionals. It isn’t even by listening to each other. In John 10 particularly verse 27 (NLT), Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” We must learn to hear the voice of our Shepherd. I was recently listening to a message and the teacher shared something interesting about sheep that is only true today not in the days when Jesus was walking the earth. Shepherds today use technology. They have cameras and helicopters and devices to track their sheep and it has put such distance between the shepherd and the sheep that they no longer hear or know the shepherd. What a contradiction to the video I watched not long ago. A shepherd in an undeveloped society was telling a group of strangers what words to call out to a group of sheep grazing in a nearby field. These people tried and tried to get the sheep to react in any way, but they simply continued to graze. Finally, the shepherd stepped into the same place every other person had stood and he called out the very same words. Immediately the sheep raised their heads and began to look around. The shepherd called out again and the entire flock trotted over to him bleating as they went. They followed him away.
Now before you think I’m anti-technology, know that I am not but I am very aware of how easy it is to fall into the convenience of it and let it consume our lives. I have realized that before I had a phone sized computer always at my fingertips, I acted differently. When I waited for my kids to come out of practice I would pray or ponder things in the quiet. When I went to bed at night I would pray in the quiet until sleep overtook me. When kids were at school and littles napped, I would listen in the quiet. Today I am so quick to grab that phone and fill every second catching up with what happened in the 10 minutes since I looked at it last. My thoughts are easily filled with every emotion and care possible. It is not possible to process the speed at which I am being asked to process emotions ranging from a funeral to a wedding to a birth to a death to a silly cat or a cute dog or a perfect family, so in order to survive, I shut down just a little bit. I wasn’t created to be able to handle so much and so my heart gets a little harder as I quickly move from one story to another never allowing myself to actually feel with my friends, only to pick it up again 20 minutes later and do it all over again. All the while I wonder why I feel so lonely and so busy all at the same time. Maybe it is time that I set that little computer at my fingertips out of reach more often and stop allowing it to dictate my thoughts and emotions so I can hear the still small voice (I Kings 19:11-13 KJV)) of my Shepherd.
We must learn to not only hear it but obey it – follow it. You know that time when your rushing to your plans and a still small voice says to do something else and you don’t listen, and you always regret it. It’s in the simplest of things. I remember being new to a neighborhood. A thought kept bugging me to make too much supper and give some to the neighbor. I fought it all day. I barely had enough to feed my army and I didn’t know that neighbor at all. They might not even like it or need it. I finally listened and obeyed. She became my sanity during a really exhausting time when my husband worked countless hours leaving me to raise our many small ones. Another time I was unloading items into my trunk with keys in my hand. I set them down and a prod told me not to leave them there because I would lock them in. I argued that I would remember. I did remember…as the trunk was slamming shut. Help was 2 hours away. These are not life altering things. They seem silly and we often refer to them as talking to ourselves but I think it is the still small voice of our Shepherd teaching us to listen in the small things so we can be faithful with the big things. (Luke 16:10a) Learn to hear His voice. Your life depends on it.
We live in unprecedented times. We must know how to respond rightly. I can’t tell you exactly what that is for you. Sometimes the Shepherd sees fit to lead one beside still waters while another walks through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23). Sometimes he tells one to be bold (Acts 14:3) while telling another be still (Psalm 46:10). He alone knows what is best for us and for those around us who will be affected by our actions.
If we go back to Genesis 2-3, in the Garden, there were two trees. One brought Life and one brought death. If we look ahead to the New Testament, we are told in Romans 8:1-8, that we are to live by the Spirit for it brings life, but the law brings death. Christian, we must learn to walk in the Spirit, which cannot happen if we don’t know how to listen to and obey the Shepherd who gives us the Spirit. Adam and Eve had a choice and it wasn’t simply to eat fruit. They were choosing whether to continue to walk in the Spirit, who would guide them into all righteousness, or they could be made like God and decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. Since that fateful day man has been trying to decide right from wrong. We set up laws and morals and guidelines that must fit every person in every situation and that is impossible. The Bible is filled with examples of how man has messed up deciding what is right and wrong. And there is the ever-popular question: was it a sin for Rahab to lie about the spies? That forces us into choosing by our standards what is right and what is wrong based on our knowledge of good and evil. But if we live by the Spirit, we are no longer bound by the limits of our understanding but set free to obey the will of our Shepherd who is Love (I John 4:8) and who lays down his life for others (John 10:11), in him is no darkness (I John 1:5). As long as we are walking in the Spirit, we can’t go wrong but what you are called to do may not mimic what another is called to do and that is not only ok, it is good. We are all one body and though all the parts are different and have different roles, it is all for the good of us all (I Corinthians 12).
I went on to learn about a serpent in the Middle East because that is where Jesus was when He told His parables. I learned that it can move into a territory and not even be detected for months. It blends in and is ever alert to all that is happening. It learns the patterns of its prey and when it gets hungry it moves silently into position. It’s prey never knows what hit it. You will never even know you are near a serpent unless it becomes cornered. What I got from that is that it is not necessary for me to start shouting my position from the roof tops. It isn’t necessary or even wise for me to announce to everyone around me that I am here with such and such a position. I should be quiet and alert. I should be ever aware of what is happening around me. What are the patterns of the enemy? I don’t need to be obnoxious though there may come a time when it becomes necessary to be known. Do it quickly and then be gone. I think of Jesus in the Temple with a whip (Luke 19 & John 2). He did what he needed to do and then he left. He didn’t stick around and make sure his point was made. He didn’t keep rehashing it. He said it and He moved on to the next thing. Maybe we are too busy making sure our opinion is known and rehashing it? It makes us a target so we continuously become cornered and we cannot watch and learn.
Then, I looked up what it is to be a dove in the Middle East. It said it is the same thing as a pigeon and what I could find about pigeons pointed out their critical use in past wars. They were used to deliver messages. Again, they didn’t announce their presence or arrival. They silently crossed the enemy lines and delivered the message to a specific place. Then just as silently as they came in, they went back out. It wasn’t their own message or opinion it was simply the message that was given to them by the sender. In our case, if we were a dove, we wait until the Spirit sends us then in obedience, we quietly deliver the message to the one who is ready and waiting at the time that is right. We will cross enemy lines, but it is not our place to attack or confront. We are to simply deliver the message and return to our place.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I am as confused as anyone about what is happening to our world. I see things that frighten me. I see enormous strides toward the one world system that is prophesied. As a child these things would break me into a cold sweat and absolutely freak me out. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it still upsets me, but it should. Jesus didn’t tell us it was coming because it was a really great thing to look forward to, but to warn us and prepare us because it would not be good. We must learn to walk in the Spirit, so we will not be led astray. Only by Him will we know what to do in such uncertain times.
Ephesians 6:10-18, “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Remember, even though we may not all have the same role, Jesus prayed for our unity, so if we all do what He leads, we will be acting unified even if we don’t know how it all fits together in the end (John 17:20-23), but we must be careful not to panic and trample each other. We need to keep our eye on the Enemy (Ephesians 6:12) and be alert. We don’t need to be loud and obnoxious with our opinions but ready always to deliver the message of Hope that is within us (I Peter 3:15).
Finally, keep our leaders and officials in prayer (I Timothy 2:1-4). Maybe you could set a timer on your phone and every hour pray for a different part of the issue at hand. For example: at noon pray for our president and other governing officials; at 1:00 pray for those who have become sick; at 2:00 pray for those who have lost loved ones; at 3:00 pray for those who have lost jobs…I think you get the idea. In high school I had a sweet friend who would draw a funny faced blob with the quote, “George the Worry Wart says, ‘Why worry? Pray!’” We need to take all our anxious thoughts and throw them away from us onto the Shepherd (I Peter 5:7). When you catch your mind worrying turn it into a prayer.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.