We are old friends here in Book Club, yes? You know when you just meet someone and they ask you a question that seems too deep too early? Well, three years ago if we had discussed our January book, it might have been too deep, too early. But now? Now we can talk about Beautiful Battle by Mary DeMuth and together have meaningful discussion about Spiritual Warfare.
I know we come from a variety of traditions, home countries, and host countries. So, we are going to come to this subject from different angles. Instead of being threatened by the complexities, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to share and learn from each other. I’m especially curious what the spiritual warfare climate is like where you serve (or served) and how this has challenged or grown (or confused) you in your own spiritual life.
Today we are looking at Part one: Foundations. Part of the reason I chose this book is because of the way Mary talks about this very subject. Take the title, for instance. Instead of using inflammatory language that puts too much emphasis on all bad or inconvenient things being the work of the devil OR going to the other extreme of saying that spiritual warfare doesn’t exist today, she describes it as the Beautiful Battle.
I appreciated that Mary said the goal of spiritual warfare is changed lives (kindle reference 170) and she starts with us. How we have been changed. Love that. She wrote, “Because our raw roundedness is the primary opening the enemy uses to attack our souls. Our own bent toward filling the gaping hole will continue to lead us to darker and more insidious situations as we claw at significance.” (222) Goodness, even just today, I bet you have seen holes at work in yourself, your marriage, your family, your team, your organization, you home country, your host country . . . or in all of them!
She listed lies we might start to believe (232). I’m not sure I had before thought of those types of lies as spiritual warfare, but I can now see how it is.
In Chapter 2 Mary pointed out another three areas we might experience attack: pleasure, stuff, and achievement. Satan can “woo, entice, deceive. His tactic becomes deceptions and lies.” (484) Later in the chapter she shares that one of Satan’s names is destroyer. Maybe because of social media and being able to see bits of life all over the world, it seems like a lot of destroying is going on. From visas that have become increasingly hard to get in parts of the world, to actual attacks on buildings and cities, to ministries or ministry teams that are being destroyed.
Loved when she played with the language and said that Satan wants to de-story us. He wants to take the story that God is writing, and bring evil, not good to it. But Mary is also quick to point out that Satan is not God’s equal. He is finite. He cannot be in all places at all times.
Oh man, the title of Chapter three? Convicting. The Right Story: God’s Sovereignty. The Wrong Story: Our Comfort. This line stood out to me: “The beauty of the cross is not that Jesus relinquised all suffering there, but that He opened the door to redemption through our suffering.” (776) Suffering isn’t always because we have sinned and suffering in and of itself isn’t to be celebrated. But God can redeem anything and even suffering is not beyond his redemption.
“Our suffering, even if it is endured completely alone, matters.” (851) Maybe you need to hear that today. Your suffering matters. You matter to God.
“Praising God while the tumult swirls is true spiritual warfare. And wait in anticipation for the day you see God more clearly.” (867) Isn’t this beautiful? Praising God in the midst of the swirls, matters. You are “doing battle.” Love this. I could relate to many of the lessons Mary learned while on the field (876). Were there any in particular that stood out to you?
But later in that chapter? “Though I’m not one to subscribe to the property gospel, I realize I have a smidgen of that theology resting dormant in my heart. When the stress level in France reached a pinnacle, my reasoning went something like this: Lord, we followed You around the world to serve You. Why is this happening? Can’t You fix this? But heaven fell silent.” (909)
I bet you saw yourself reflected in this a bit more than you’d like. I know I did. Wow, and then she described being addicted to happiness and not normal, but at tyranny. I need to think about this some more. Am I addicted to happiness? Is it tyranny I’m not recognizing?
This is getting long and I haven’t even touched on Chapters 4 or 5! So, let’s talk about them (and anything from 1-3 you want!) in the comments. Also, if you haven’t gotten the book, it’s not too late!
Happy Epiphany friends,
Next week we’ll read part 2, the week after that part 3, and finish up with part 4 and Mary visiting with us. So, read with an eye to any questions for her you might have :).
February 7th: Kimberlee Conway Ireton continuing with Circle of Seasons.
February 14th, 21st, and 28th: Shiloh by Helena Sorensen and recommended by Elizabeth Trotter. Free on kindle! You can get the app and read on your computer or device.