Rain. It can be such a blessing. It can bring refreshing, washing everything down, making everything feel clean and vibrant again. Softening the soil, giving life to seed and helping to yield crops that will feed many for months. But when it comes as a violent storm, it can also be one of the most destructive forces known to man. Unyielding and relentless, it pounds its way through, forging new pathways and dragging along everything it comes in contact with.
So can be the storms of life.
Last night, I had a dream which carries a simple, but important message to it. Often, I’ll have dreams that carry messages just for me. Other times, I’ll have dreams that are for friends, or family member. But then other times, there are dreams I feel led to share at large because they carry a broader message meant to encourage and strengthen a greater group of people. I believe this is one of those dreams. And if you happen to be someone who has recently gone through a storm in life or may even be in the midst of one right now, well, this may be for you.
In this dream, I was with a friend observing an area where a great storm had just come through. The clouds had cleared, the skies were now blue and there was cleaning and reconstruction efforts taking place all around. The place was busy, as people were picking up the broken pieces of their lives and putting them back together again. But as I looked down at the ground, I noticed something that no one else seemed to be paying attention to. For the most part, the waters had receded. But there was still a low level of muddied water remaining on the ground, maybe about a foot deep. And in the midst of this mud, I could see tons of snakes and alligators, swimming along, fighting for survival and trying desperately to blend in with the mud. They were looking for new places to hide.
There was more to the dream, but here’s what I want to leave with you. In dreams, snakes and alligators represent lies, deception and/or fabrications of the truth. And after living in Florida for a long period of time, I know that after big storms push through and waters rise above normal levels, weather commentators will often tell people to watch out for snakes.
Now think of this in spiritual terms. The storms of life will come. Sometimes they’re quick, and like a tornado, they leave their distinguishable mark. Other times, the storms linger for longer periods of time, causing the waters around us to rise above normal levels. But one of the dangers of the storms of life is that they can create a vulnerability in us that makes us susceptible to believing and/or coming into agreement with lies, deception, and/or fabrications of the truth. Lies about God and His nature. Lies about ourselves. Lies about our future.
Make no mistake, some of the storms that are hurled at you are simply for the purpose of stealing, killing, and destroying what is rightfully yours. This is the very nature of a ruthless adversary that hates to see the goodness of God on your life. But an even greater purpose of storms is to change how we think and what we think. It is to change what we believe. And many times, when the enemy can’t change our thinking suddenly, he will use the longterm volatile, erratic distractions of storms to hide deception and chip away at us, one rising inch of water at a time. In fact, if you want to refer to it in military terms, it’s what is known as “military deception”. A quick internet search provided this definition (emphasis mine):
Military deception refers to attempts to mislead enemy forces during warfare. This is usually achieved by creating or amplifying an artificial fog of war via psychological operations, information warfare, visual deception and other methods…… To the degree that any enemy that falls for the deception will lose confidence when it is revealed, he may hesitate when confronted with the truth.
Do you see that? Military deception. Either in our souls (our thoughts, our will, our emotions.) Or perhaps in false information that is sent our way, meaning messages or comments other people say to us. Or messages we internalize and start to believe about ourselves. Or through visual deception – attempting to change what we see and how we see it. All for the purpose of breaking us down in an effort to overtake us.
The good news? There is a place of protection and safety we can find in God. There is a power available to us where we can take rule over our emotions, our thoughts, our will and guard against lies and deception.
“These things I [Jesus] have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV
Jesus has made a way for us to access and abide in the peace of God – not just during the storms, but at all times. Through the abiding, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we have been given the ability to know and recognize truth so that we don’t fall to deception (John 14:16 and John 16:13). And God has also given us authority to “trample over” serpents and scorpions (representing sneaky deception and stinging lies). And just in case we’ve left anything out, the Bible also says He’s given us authority over all the power – in any form or fashion – that the enemy could ever hurl at us. (Luke 10:19)
So, if you’re facing a storm, I want to urge you – guard your heart above all else. Give your best energy to grounding yourself even deeper in the truth of who He is, and who you are in light of Him. Fight to find and remain in that place of His peace. “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.” Or as other translations put it, “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 MSG). Exercise what you have been given, the weapons of worship and prayer. And stand firm, dear friend. Keeping your eyes focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He hasn’t brought you this far to leave you. He never has and He never will.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing lovefor you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
-Isaiah 54:10 NIV
Thanks for reading,
Linda G. Riddle